“For love is no part of the dream world. Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel.”
Desire is the third youngest of the Endless and the twin of Despair.
They are gorgeous figures whose gender expression is mutable, becoming male, female, or neither, as the situation warrants. Their family is often referred to as “siblings,” particularly Dream. Desire blends in effortlessly with whatever environment they find themselves in.
Desire is easily the cruelest of the Endless. They seem obsessed with interfering with the affairs of their elder siblings, particularly Dream. The motivation behind this is unclear but appears to be a variation of childish teasing. Desire is not exactly unaware of the consequences of their actions but considers those consequences ultimately unimportant, a position which angers Morpheus and Death in particular. He sometimes acts in concert with Despair and Delirium; the relationship is unclear. Desire is much more distant from their siblings than Despair or Delirium.
A more forgiving interpretation is that Desire reflects, Desire and is as fickle and self-centered as the emotion. As Desire is easily the most inflaming of emotions, Desire takes particular delight in needling those who think they are beyond feelings altogether. They are, besides Death (who, even then, must be goaded), the only one of the Endless that will point out the faults of Dream, some of which, such as the condemnation of Nada, are legitimate. Even Destruction noted that while Desire can be malicious, they are often correct.
The Dream fell in love with a mortal, Killala of the Glow. He took her to a gathering of stars (literally the embodiments of various suns). While there, Killala met and fell in love with the star of her home world, abandoning and cheating on Dream. The role of Desire in this was never made clear. After introducing his lover to Desire when they first arrive and leaving the two alone, Killala asks what Desire had done for Dream to make him so affectionate.
Still, Desire indicated that they hadn’t done anything at all. Later, however, when Dream angrily blames Desire for the whole affair, Desire offers no defense, only asking Destruction after Morpheus storms off, “Doesn’t he have a sense of humor?” This story, set billions of years before the story arc of The Sandman, tends to portray the characters in a very different light, showing that even the Endless are not unchanging, with Desire’s attitude towards Dream being playful rather than malicious during this early encounter.
The enmity between Dream and Desire continued through the millennia, eventually culminating in Desire raping and parenting a child on Unity Kinkaid and then attempting to have Dream kill Rose Walker. Unity’s grandchild would have caused the ruthless and relentless Furies to hound Dream until he died for the crime of shedding family blood. When Dream discovered this at the end of The Doll’s House, he openly threatened Desire with what would happen if Desire interfered in Dream’s life again, and there was an uneasy truce between the two afterward.
To the ancient Romans, they were known as Epithumia. Desire is the anthropomorphic personification of lust, craving, attraction and wanting. They blend in effortlessly with whichever environment they are in. They live in the heart of a massive flesh-and-blood statue of themself, known as the Threshold, and their sigil is a heart of cut glass.
Desire is described as being of medium height and smelling faintly of summer peaches. They are gorgeous, androgynous figures of gender-fluidity; they can be male, female, or neither, as the situation warrants. Desire’s smiles are brief and sharp. Their skin is “pale as smoke,” their hair midnight black, and their eyes are “tawny and sharp as yellow wine.” In addition, Desire casts two shadows, one black and sharp, the other translucent and wavering.
Desire is easily the most casually cruel of the Endless. They are obsessed with interfering in the affairs of their elder sibling, Dream, in particular. How their vendetta against Dream evolved past the initial incident in Endless Nights isn’t clear. Regardless, their interactions with others can range from generous to malicious. In Pre-Roman Britain, he gave a young woman the attraction she needed to win the attention of the man she loved. In the modern era, they doomed another to a passionate weekend. Followed by hating the Presence of the woman she shared it with.
Destruction describes Desire as untrustworthy, acerbic, dangerous, and cruel, but not consistently wrong. Their behavior and spontaneity align with their function and nature as creatures of the moment. Resulting in their fickle attitude and short memory.
sometimes acts in concert with Despair and Delirium and is much more distant from Dream, Death, Destiny, and Destruction. Death attributes this to the youngest three Endless playing games with which the others don’t waste their time.
Powers and Abilities
- A personification of Desire: One of the seven Endless, inconceivably powerful beings. Desire is both lord and personification of all Desire and hatred.
- Omnipresence: Being Desire, they are everywhere on Earth at any moment, but not in a form visible to humans, usually.
- Shapeshifting: Desire could change their appearance and clothing.
- Teleportation: They can travel instantly anywhere in the mortal realm where people die and live, and, so long as they show proper respect, they can quickly enter and transit most magical domains too.
- Immortality: Desire was ageless and virtually immortal.
- Sorcery: Nigh-Omnipotent mastery of magic.
- Ancient Rules: Despite their incredible powers, Desire, like the rest of the Endless, was bound to a complex set of rules and customs.
- One which requires them not to spill the blood of family or they are no longer protected as the personification of Desire from other Personifications.
- Another is that they cannot fall in love with a mortal, or the mortal’s downfall is assured.
- Desire cannot transgress an oath sworn by the First Circle, which we only hear them pronounce partially before being stopped by their brother Dream: “I swear by the first circle, and the other side of the sky, and the sword, and the -.” The last power attested is the Presence, the only power in this universe that exceeds even the Endless’ power.