Spells Gone Rite:

BY : VladimirHarkonnen
Category: Comics > The Sandman (Vertigo Comics) > The Sandman (Vertigo Comics)
Dragon prints: 192
Disclaimer: I do not own Death of the Endless, nor the rest of the Endless, nor their father Time, nor any characters associated with the Sandman franchise. No profit is intended to be made by this story.

PROLOGUE, THE FORTRESS OF ETERNITY:

Life, reflected Deborah bat Aphar with an old cliche that was well worn but nonetheless all she could think of after the preparations for the rite were complete, could go down very strange paths. In her own past, she had been constructed in another cliche of the literal dust of the ground, dirt and clay mixed into the form of a human body, outwardly and in the wake of her animation with organs within (and she did not appreciate certain...elements....nor the pain that came with them but that too was life). The entity that had done this had done this casual display of truly divine power, unlike others of her kin, and then given her complete freedom.

She had chosen to become her familiar and her servitor, and yet if she un-chose this it was within her power and the being had other entities that fit the definition in a truer and a more real sense than she would. She was much a daughter as a creation. To be forged as life from the hands of one who could Unmake all that was or would ever be was to grant power in the liminal spaces where greater Magick dwelt. It granted insight and things that were and are beyond the walls of space and time, to perceive the ways that Magick worked.

As this was a ritual she wore a dress, one thinner and closer to the flesh for convenience, even if she could phase herself out of clothes as her mistress did she relished the idea of taking them off. She was bare beneath it, as a part of the ritual symbolism her mistress's non-human ancestry indulged in. In the exposure of the flesh there was purity, in a rite such as this one. The dress was simple by the standards of her creator's kind, with interwoven symbolism in turn, fringes marked with tassels that were short and yet gave her garments a fluffier element. She had a hood over her face, her skin pale, in an area between grey and white, her eyes black within black, pools of darkness in that otherwise-white face. Her silver-blue hair was bound in a bun, to keep it out of her face and her mouth. In her left hand there was an athame, one of her own making akin to that of her creator's kind, a dagger worked of metal from Urhalzan, iron and obsidian, the blade an alloy strengthened by spells that granted it a power to sever portions of atoms. It was a thing wielded here in a space of magick and meant to perform ritual ends, though in a battle it could be wielded as well to quite literally produce cuts of air that exploded with nuclear force from the sheer devastating power required to sunder atomic spheres.

Nothing of value lacked power to it, nor did power come easily as blinking or crossing streets. It was her gift from her creator to see the various types of energy that wove together into an ornate pattern, those of science and of magick and other things besides. She could see with greater perception to the deep truths, too, and knew how to wield what it was that she saw.

With that sight she had built a ritual space, taking time to construct a full ritual circle, marking it in the ground here in the Fortress where the metal was plastic and able to flow and to mould itself to an anathame. A set of symbols interlocked, some of her creator's origin (and among those was the ankh, the life-cross, a symbol worn in defiance of an aspect of her being and in adherence to it from another means of sight). Most were not, an interweaving element of Hebrew and Urhalzantrani and Arabic and Ottoman Turkish scripts in a calligraphic fashion, with the scripts within a pattern of flowing and interweaving bulbous shapes.

The circle gleamed, she had made sure that her mind was balanced. Even one shaped by those for whom the Stars Were Right dared not to call upon such forces beyond the veil without a great deal of caution, for to those to whom greater power was give came greater consequences of error.

Too, this was a distinct kind of rite, she was pondering a mystic pregnancy with her own love, her girlfriend accepting of the idea in theory if somewhat uncertain how a golem who fought and slew monsters and served as the willing eyes and ears of a being around whom Existence itself was anchored, one of many tens of thousands of such entities, and one such as she could achieve such a feat. Deborah snorted. Baseline humans were such strange creatures. Willing to entertain ideas so long as they were stories but make them real and the ideas suddenly became this eldritch and terrifying concept.

She took a deep breath and steepled her hands, her eyes closed as she began to draw upon the power that surged with her and through her, and a low droning sound echoed in the air, the very molecules seeming to vibrate and split, light sparking from her eyes and in the veins along her arms, and then into the blood vessels of her hands. Her pale flesh, white as snow, was illuminated with a brilliant golden-greenish light that shone more brilliantly than true light, and did not bend nor arc with time and space, seeming more akin to stabbing it.

The vibrations and the droning increased as she spoke words of a tongue of power, that which is known in some worlds as Enochian and in others as Enuncia and in still others as the Tongue of Heaven. To the children of Urhalzan, of whom one had created her as the God of her people had made her own ancestors from dust and clay and life's breath, it was called the Tongue of the Heavenly Kings, though its words were not as those pronounced by a mouth that was human, or as hers was, one that seemed to be. The words were spoken with a guttural reptilian aspect, slamming into the air with a brutish power. She envisioned the kind of entity she wished to draw to her rite, a being of perfect beauty, one that strode the elements of life and death, love and hate.

One of the kinds of beings that was fairest of them all, a deity of love and understanding and compassion. She had never entertained this kind of concept before, to summon a goddess of love, and to seek such a pact as this but it would be one pursued with greater delight, not lesser.

The words of power echoed with a terrific sound that smote the world around it, light growing and then pulsing in a pattern of brilliant white and the interlocked Nothingness around and within and through it. A last word of command and then the light and the nothingness flashed into the greatest brilliance and a being walked out into the circle or fell from the energy summoned at the same time, finding herself on her knees.

She wore a formal skirt that was all the same sheer, long stockings going up to her upper thighs, her outfit transparent and revealing a black bra that stood out against flesh as pale as her creator's. Her hair was as dark as her creator's too, though it lacked the blue stripes like those of a tiger that threaded through the goddess that had made her and made this fortress. It was dark, the flowing darkness of Night itself, seeming to flow into the shadows in the fortress and yet to surpass them. The entity was on her left knee, right leg clenched, her hands on the aforementioned knee, the nails on those hands long, like claws. Around her neck and between her breasts was a golden chain or what looked like gold, and to it was hooked an ankh of silver, a vision that marked a point of division of what came before from what came after.

Her right eye had an Eye of Horus, but her eyes....they were endless darkness, a beauty that was like a singularity where a star became too dense for its own weight and became a great maw in the core of space itself, devouring light and all else with it. She served beings that weighed a multiverse as a mortal would a marble and treated them accordingly, of her own will and was accustomed to staring them in eyes that glowed like stars down to halos and prominences, a light that cracked darkness and true-light alike. To beings that smote the world around them and whose very presence in a universe tilted its physics and metaphysics down alien paths.

She knew power, and knew it well. She also knew of the Goddess Aphrodite to the Romans and Venus to the Romans, the Morrighan to the Irish and Freyja to the Germanics, to know that what she was looking at, who she was looking at, was no Aphrodite.

She looked at the entity kneeling in her circle with her head tilted, the bemusement palpable.

Well, the kneeling entity said, as she remained kneeling. I have to admit, I did not see this coming.

Deborah bat Aphar remained puzzled. I thought I summoned a goddess of love and compassion, who could and would bring life into being where there was none or no prospect of same.

Death of the Endless smiled warmly. You did, she smirked. Oh wait, let me guess: You thought you'd see Aphrodite, didn't you?

Warily, Bat Aphar nodded.

Death laughed with a silvery musical tone to it, a sound that was beautiful and that seemed to weave itself into the metal of the Fortress and into this room within it.

Ol' Venus is a lot of things but she isn't compassionate or loving. She makes people love, but she's wrathful, vengeful, very self-absorbed. Death's lip quirked slightly. Not exactly my favorite kind of person and I've had this happen....a few times. People think the love goddess loves and then they end up summoning me.

Her smile became broader and her eyes traversed Bat Aphar's body appraisingly.

You're like Diana! The phrase was warm and Bat Aphar raised an eyebrow.

She held up her hands.

Do you see a bow and arrow? And I can assure you I am no virgin and cannot turn people into a dog if they see me bathing. Well, technically I do if horndogs count.

Death laughed. Not that Diana. In my worlds where I come from the Amazon Queen Hippolyta wanted a daughter of her very own, so she built a body from clay and at the bequest of the Gods of Olympus I breathed life into her. So if you want someone to help you get to accepting things, I'll gladly do that.

She raised herself from her knees, remaining in the circle.

It's a lovely sensation this, she said, wrapping her arms around herself. Summoned to help one who wishes to realize a truth to do it, and to do so entirely willingly and yet bound by a pact.

Bat Aphar raised a finger. I haven't sworn to a pact yet.

Death snorted, looking at the circle around her. You didn't do all of this because you were bored.

Deborah Bat Aphar's finger tapped on her dress.

The pact I wish to make is a simple one. I intend to be the one who conceives and bears an offspring with my girlfriend. She does not believe it so, were I to have a blessing from an entity of love, one that she would recognize, she would accept it. She would know of Aphrodite, and.....she paused for a moment. She would know of you. She's...obsessed with a series of....panels on a page, you see. For a moment embarrassment crossed her face as Death laughed again.

 So, if it would please you, O Eldest Sister of the Seven Endless, who were before the eldest gods and will outlive the last of the stars, I would work a blessing with you in a rite linking flesh and call upon that power. I did anticipate summoning the Goddess Venus for this but....

Death spread her hands and arms out and for a moment there were great wings at her back with endless golden eyes with brighter yellow sclera, golden irises, and pupils dark as night, each blinking in unity in a perfect fashion. It was beautiful, and there was a connection in those golden eyes to the Angel Azrael, of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic myth and especially that of Islam, as well as to the being that made her. A soft smile crossed her at that sight, as the Endless nodded.

I will do this. The Endless smiled.

With that the athame moved and traced a set of symbols and they moved and flowed like water, as if Moses held his staff and parted the Red Sea. From it stepped, in feet clad in soft loafers, the entity that was summoned to that sphere, and she stood before her summoner.

She moved her hand gently to the summoner's cheek, feeling skin that reminded her achingly of the being she considered her own daughter as much as Hippolyta's, as Iblis O'Shaugnessy was her son. It was soft to her touch but then everything she had ever felt save one being had been. And that one had permitted the touch for a time and she still bore the scar for when she did not read the body language swift enough to react. She knew that it could withstand the deadliest weapons of science without ill effect and weave between the courses of magic as simply as a hummingbird flitted between meals.

She knew much more than she let on, for those eyes of endless darkness hid great knowledge and with it great pain, for in the harvesting of knowledge there was pain to be had, and in the endurance of reality in a manner that made her at one remove more than her siblings or anything in her world and at others much less, in her own view, and in her secret heart of hearts. Her siblings truly lived and lived each choice the first time in ignorance of the deeper truths (save poor sweet Del and what she had seen drove her from Delight to Delirium). She endured a cycle that all her choices could not defy and waited until each ended and returned, for it was the price of her function.

With such experience and such knowledge, deciphering the nature of the being whose cheek she caressed at the start of the pact was simple to obtain, a small sweet smile crossing her face.

Well, sighed Deborah bat Aphar as she removed her hood and a flick of her wrist caused hair that was a mixture of silver and blue that shimmered and gleamed with each color depending on where and how one looked and was never consistent, shall we begin?

Death's smile became more anticipating and she gestured as a chair formed and Bat Aphar followed her hand gestures to sit. Death was going to enjoy this to the fullest, and she hoped her summoner would too.



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