What Exactly are The Endless?
Although Neil Gaiman, the creator of The Endless, has made it very clear that he prefers leaving fans to guess at the origins and mysteries of The Endless, he has filled in some clues, most of them concerning what exactly The Endless are were revealed in the Brief Lives story arc, through Destruction. It seems, after having abandoned his duty as one of The Endless he came to truly understand what The Endless are. He says that they are simply patterns, ideas, repeating motifs and makes it clear that for their functions to be performed, no actual intervention is required on their part. In fact he goes on to say The Endless have no right to interfere with the lives of mortals.
Also, he explains his own theory about what each of The Endless represent saying that he symbolizes creation, in this same way he goes on to say that Death is to life as Despair is to hope, Desire is to hatred and Destiny is to freedom. When Dream questions what he would be in this all, Destruction says, "Reality, perhaps?" This seems to shake the very foundation of what The Endless are, as most of the others see themselves as bound to their duties while Destruction makes it very clear that without them all will go on, perhaps more sporadically, but it will continue.
Neil Gaiman has also added in the foreword to The Sandman: Endless Nights, that The Endless are not to be seen as gods, for gods need to be believed in to exist, The Endless will continue existing whether we believe in them or not, for they are The Endless.
Another thing that should be brought up is that although the first eight of The Endless may have never been human and the original seven may have never been anything but The Endless, the ninth was originally Daniel Hall, a mortal babe who was made Dream when forces outside of his control made it necessary that he take on the role, for although you can abandon your duties, there must always be one to hold the mantle of each of the seven Endless.
One thing about The Endless that seems to support the idea they were once "mortal beings" of sorts is the fact that they have been known to reproduce and bear, at least partially, human offspring.
Who are The Endless?
The Endless, as mentioned above, are ideas, anthromorphic personifications of concepts, but even so, they are all individual beings, and have feelings, thoughts and personalities all their own, as proven by the fact that when Daniel Hall replaces Morpheus as Dream, that he does not truly replace Morpheus to those who knew him, because he is not the same, while the same being in theory, they are quite different in action. From eldest to youngest (as members of The Endless, not as concepts) the nine Endless have been listed below with some info on their individual personalities, relationships with fellow Endless or well anyone for that matter and believe it or not, their speech bubbles. That is because each of The Endless bears a unique speech bubble and as such each description will include a panel of that specific being speaking, and a caption explaining what is unique about their speech.
Although Destiny is considered one of The Endless, unlike the rest of his siblings, it was not always that way within the comic book world, in fact he was making appearances in the comic book universe long before Neil Gaiman was a household name or The Endless even a concept put in print. In early comic book encyclopedias he was even stated to have no siblings to speak of which has since been retconned through The Sandman. Now, he is seen as the eldest of The Endless, for when existence first came into being, it had a destiny, and as such he has always been around since the beginning of it all.
Whether this makes him that much older than any of his siblings is uncertain but he is seen as The Eldest. Destiny is - like many characters that know the future and that it cannot be changed - very stoic in going about his life and rarely, if ever, shows any emotion. He is not a very warm and welcoming type of guy because he simply reads the Book of Destiny and does what it says he shall do. This attitude is basically a double-sided blade, as on one hand it means he never purposefully invokes hatred or emotions of that sort, while at the same time he never purposefully brings about joy either, he just does as the Book says he shall do.
Thus, in terms of relationships with his siblings, he hardly has any to speak of, he likes to keep to himself, although he also seems to be the one most willing to respect Destruction abandoning his duties, most likely because he felt no attachment to his brother. Also, at Morpheus' wake, Destiny delivers the first speech being the eldest and seems to feel no pain at the loss. He says that the ceremony is to pay their respects to Dream, and than, to ultimately forget him. For Destiny sees things as they were, as they are, and as they shall be...and the way he sees things, Dream was the lord of things that were not, things that are not, and things that will never be. In short, you could basically say Destiny is heartless, incapable of understanding emotion because he has no need to feel when he knows all.
Death was the third of The Endless to appear in the comic book world, showing up as the lovable older sister to Dream, she quickly became a fan favorite because of her personality and attitude and how it differs so much from what one might expect Death to be like. This is the reason that unlike the rest of her siblings, her appearances in the comic book world span far beyond just The Sandman and although she usually only has cameos within series, they're always worth the few pages. She also has multiple miniseries, a feat none of the other Endless can claim.
Death, like her brothers Destiny and Dream seems to be far older than their younger siblings - at least in maturity - for when all things first came about they were alive, so, in turn death was needed and she was there. Originally, all those billions of years ago Death was very dark as one might expect her to be and mortals and gods alike trembled in her presence, for their was no light sparkling in her eyes, only the death they all knew would one day come for them.
This obviously changed when she was given the privilege/task/duty to every one hundred years, live one day as a mortal so that she can know what life is like and why so few wish to lose it, seeing as Death never appreciates the fact that so few want her to come for them. However, when Death does interact with anyone, both her siblings and those whose lives she must take, they always find her to be too cheerful. Although she is known for the occasional outburst of anger (usually because of Dream's idiocy), it is a very rare occurrence and even though she is sometimes annoyed by those she finds herself interacting with, she is not known to be rude. All in all, she is just a lovable character and the most emotional of her siblings, the only one who truly understands what its like to be alive, she seems to be a lot more cheery because of it.
Dream was the original member of The Endless, or at least the first one to be seen in comics as one of The Endless, seeing as he is the character, the award-winning series The Sandman revolves around. Dream's personality is perhaps the hardest to describe, as perhaps the main plot of The Sandman was Dream shifting from being a cold and emotionless god to a being displaying very human-like emotions and characteristics.
Also, what should be mentioned is in age of the Endless, it seems like all the choosing of their ages revolved around Dream as it is with his relationships towards all of his siblings that their maturity can really be seen. When he receives counsel it is usually from Death (his elder sister) who will insult him for his stupidity but than give him her wisdom or at times he goes to Destiny (his elder brother) who although isn't too helpful does yield some advice if necessary. Than there is Destruction (the next in line) who gives Dream advice but the advice is ill-received because Dream believes himself more wise than his brother. As for Desire and Despair, Dream seems to see himself as above them and their childish games and although once closest to Desire, for most of his later life he felt nothing but hatred for her. Finally, there is little Delirium, although he thinks her foolish, after spending some time with her near the end of his days he comes to be her big brother, and helps her out at times.
However, Dream's most important relationships are those who tends to have with mortal women, Dream will often find himself falling in love with just about every female that comes his way and every time he eventually loses them, leading to strife in The Dreaming. Although originally when people wronged him, Dream's vengeance would be swift and cruel, such as locking a lover in Hell for millenia, or trapping an old man in an endless nightmare, he eventually grew out of such habits and actually became a much kinder Lord of the Dreaming up until the moment he took up his responsibilities and gave up his life to save The Dreaming.
Destruction was already envisioned in the mind of Neil Gaiman early on in the writing of The Sandman series, but as for actually making an appearance, that was several years down the road. For quite some time Destruction was merely known as "The Prodigal", spoken of but never seen nor truly explained. He is in a way the most obscure of all The Endless, and by them considered the most foolish of the siblings, as he abandoned his post as Destruction several hundred years ago. Yet it seems that absence from life as Destruction has made him much wiser when it comes to understanding The Endless and their functions.
Destruction's attitude is that of a very gentle giant, ironic because his duty is to destroy, and perhaps exactly the reason he refused to destroy any longer. His placement in the family is also perfect, as the middle child, seeing as while his elder siblings may look down upon him or see the abandonment of his function as a measure of his youth (except perhaps Death), his younger siblings (Despair and Delirium specifically) seem to adore him and look up to him, they need him, yet he refuses to stay for their sake's. Though he does not abandon for the sake of spite and leaves Barnabas to take care of Del in his stead, he also counseled the second Dream after the death of Morpheus. However, he would not stay to speak with his siblings and has made it very clear that under no circumstances does he ever want them to seek him out (for those who seek out Destruction, will find it aplenty in their lives, usually resulting in death). It appears that after the tales told in The Sandman this attitude actually changed and he proved himself to be the loving brother once again as he returns to take care of Delirium after she went through something terrible beyond imagining, proving that he cares for her more than he does for his own solitude.
Desire is the only one of The Endless that has no defined "gender", which is surprising since none of The Endless are actual living things but anthromorphic concepts and as such none of them in theory should have a sex because they are not able to reproduce...in theory...yet both Dream and Desire have proven that wrong. Desire still remains unique of course because he/she is described as an it or a brother/sister, most of the time as a man with feminine features.
Amongst his/her siblings, Desire is perhaps the most disliked, this may be in part due to the fact of its own youth, being younger than all but two of the other Endless. No one really seems to have a taste for Desire's games but most of The Endless just don't involve themselves with Desire. However, of all his/her older siblings, the one who has the most resentment towards him/her is Morpheus, the brother who was once favored Desire above all his other siblings until he realized that Desire's and his own views differed too greatly on the thoughts of love and humor. Other than that there is Desire's younger sibling, Delirium, whom of course looks up to Desire, yet because of Desire's own attitudes, receives much more than a little protection, but not truly any love. The only sibling Desire seems to have any real relationship with is its twin, Despair.
Of course, because Desire is the first incarnation of Desire and the current Despair whom is often seen interacting with Desire is her second incarnation, it is no surprise that Desire is the leader of the duo. Despair often comes to Desire rather than vice versa but the two still have a relationship that can be seen as giving from both parties, neither one really abusing the other. Other than Despair however, Desire doesn't really seem to have much of a relationship with anyone, he/she is the essence of passion, not of love which means it never really grows attached to any particular beings and for the most part keeps to itself and worries about no one else. Though on some occasions Desire will come to its descendants (as seen with Rose Walker) or its devout followers (as seen with Kara) but even then, only for a short time.
Next to nothing is actually known about the first Despair of the Endless except what is spoken about her in flashback as she only appeared once in comics, in The Heart of a Star short story contained in The Sandman: Endless Nights. However, apart from a slight differing in appearance, it can be assumed her attitudes and relationships were very similar to that of her successor.
One thing that can be assumed from the few lines she has in her comic is that like her counterpart, she too was close to her sibling Desire, as they were truly twins, and another thing is that she seemed a lot more willing to share her opinion, to spread the despair. While the latter Despair seems more reclusive and restricted to her realm, this Despair seems more outgoing and was actually the one who suggested unto Rao (Krypton's red sun) that a planet should bear life and than destroy it all but a single life who will thus grow up and live in its despair. In other word's Despair can in a sense be blamed for the birth of Superman.
Also, it can be assumed Despair was murdered by some male being or at least they were responsible for her death, as the second Dream said to Lyta Hall that "the person who was responsible for the death of the first Despair will take the rest of eternity to die. Only then will his pain cease... And he had better cause for what he did than you."
Delirium of the Endless is unique in several ways, perhaps the strangest of all of her siblings, she is unique in the fact that she has served as multiple functions...originally, an unknown amount of years ago (though less than 10,000,000,000) she was Delight of the Endless, and it was until she changed and went through a transformation (circumstances unknown) that she became Delirium of the Endless. Whether this was meant to happen is unclear as the answers to that question have been hinted at as not being written in Destiny's book, as Delirium tells him that she knows some things that aren't in the Book of Destiny, which is said to contain all knowledge past, present and future. This is also an oddity in Delirium, as she seems capable of completely becoming her opposite, a logical, straight-forward thinker though she says it hurts her a lot.
Delirium, if put in the spot she would be with the age of her siblings, she is the youngest (excluding second incarnations), and of all her siblings, she seems to fit in her spot best. Unlike the rest of The Endless, Del has never seemed to mature any, although as Delight she was a lot more child-like in attitude, as Delirium she retains the body of a youth and the thought processes of someone who is young but whose mind has been perverted by the evils around them. Delirium is almost always the vulnerable one, the weak one, and can rarely do things on her own, however, since her siblings are very withdrawn from one another, it is unknown who cared for her those first few centuries Destruction was gone, as he was there for her before his leaving and gave her Barnabas to watch over her when they next met.
The one time we truly get a glimpse into Delirium's world, her relationships and her thoughts is in the Brief Lives story arc. It shows us that when she is in danger, even her sibling Desire has been known to come to her aid. It also shows us that most of her siblings care for her, though perhaps not about her, yet she fears them...as she is afraid of both Despair and Dream at times. In the end however, after their adventure, Delirium came to care about Dream. Although she hated him at one point during their time together and fled to her world where she remained until Dream was coerced by Death into talking to her and repairing the damage he had done. This development is most likely why Delirium seemed so broken-hearted after the death of her brother. But of all her siblings, Delirium is closest to Destruction, it is he that most often took care of her, and the events of The Sandman: Endless Nights seem to insinuate that Destruction came back simply to care for her, after she went through a terrible ordeal that wasn't exactly explained, like much of her life...whether or not this was her third transformation (which Destruction mentioned before his return) is not stated.
Another thing to note is Delirium's people, since she can hardly be called sane, very few of her "people" can be either and so when they encounter...the ensuing interaction is rarely one like her other siblings have with those in their realm, as Delirium is not their superior but their equal and at times even their lesser, as Barnabas and Daniel (the second Dream) used her people to rescue her once when something had gone terribly wrong with her and they couldn't risk going near her.
The second Despair of the Endless is actually the first one to appear in the comics, and due to the fact that she seems to assume the same status as her predecessor, our first impression of her can lead to the belief that she is the original Despair, which would be incorrect. She is still Desire's twin (even though she came after Desire) and from what can be seen, other then a few small details appearance-wise, she isn't much different from the original Despair.
However, based off of what has been seen, she seems a lot less independent and more "despairing" then the original. For one thing, almost all of her appearances she is alongside Desire or being "manipulated" by Desire, although Desire often appears on his/her own. When we do see Despair in solitude, she is in The Gray Realm, a realm of fog and mirrors, or windows, windows into the souls of those who feel despair. Of course, Despair seems to be more depressed then even her people and has been known to mutilate herself.
In regards to relationships with her siblings, other than Desire, Despair also seems to have a love for Destruction, and perhaps it was his leaving that helped drive her farther into the darkness of despair. She is usually silent though and doesn't seem to be much of a "people-person" and her mannerisms and voice can at times scare Delirium, though it doesn't seem like Despair wants to intentionally frighten her sister. In fact Despair seems like a gentle, quiet woman and based upon her attitudes it brings up the question if she became Despair unwillingly?
The second Dream of the Endless is very unique to the other Endless from the reader perspective since he is the only character we've ever gotten a glimpse of before he was of the Endless. Our first encounter with him is actually while he's still in his mother's womb, his mother being Lyta Hall. When we first see Lyta and her husband Hector Hall, a.k.a. the Sandman, they are in a realm of dreams cut off entirely from The Dreaming inside the mind of one Jed Walker. In this realm Lyta is with child and has been for years without ever giving birth but that's the least of the strange things that happen there. It is revealed that this entire world is the creation of two escaped Arcana from The Dreaming, Brute and Glob.
Eventually Morpheus (Dream I) discovers what Brute and Glob have done, and he decides to take swift action against his servants, punishing them for their crimes. So it is that Dream undoes Lyta and Hector Hall's paradise where they can stay together forever and live wondrous lives, helping people. This also means that Hector (who was actually dead all along) ceases to exist in the land of the living and Lyta vows revenge against Dream, but he tells her that since her unborn child had been gestating in the realm of dreams for so long, he belongs to Morpheus and one day the Dream King will come to collect. That child, we learn later, is Daniel Hall.
His childhood is anything but normal, and when Loki and Puck kidnap him, Lyta is led to make a deal with the Hecatae to kill Dream (Morpheus), her promised vengeance. In the end Dream realizes he must die and places his powers in a gem. After Dream's death, Daniel Hall is seen playing with that gem and lo and behold, in his place is no longer a toddler but a fully grown man, garbed in white, a contrast to Morpheus' black. He has become the new Dream of the Endless. After this, we see some of Daniel, his meeting the other Endless, and "learning the ropes".
Finally we see him and his "mother" meet with one another, Daniel assures Lyta that there are no longer blood-kin and the mortal aspects of her son are gone. Yet still, rather then punish her as would be expected, instead he gives her his mark (similar to the story of God and Cain), saying that no one shall harm her. And so he urges her to put her life back together, his mercy insinuating that perhaps he still has ties to her, or perhaps he is simply a more merciful point of view of Dream.
Also, unlike many of the other Endless, Daniel Hall has ventured moreso into the DC universe as well, mainly in the JSA series.
The Ancient Rules
The Endless seem to have some rules regarding the way they live their "lives" with some definite "no's" if they wish things to go well in the universe. One of these rules is that should you spill the blood of the family, harm shall befall you as well, seen after Morpheus kills his son (Orpheus) which ultimately leads to the death of Morpheus, it is also why Dream said he would not harm Desire even though he very much longed to. Another rule is not to fall in love with mortals, for nothing good can come out of such a union, the most renown case being that of Kai'ckul and Nada. Though Morpheus has been known to fall in love with mortals many a time...none of the relationships ended well.
Galleries, Realms, Sigils and Followers
Each of The Endless possess a "gallery", a place within their realm someplace where the portraits of the other six Endless hang, allowing contact between all seven of The Endless. Seeing as they rarely keep up with what the other members of the family are up to, it allows for a quick way to get in touch. Within these galleries each of The Endless also possess a sigil, its not necessary to hold the sigil when you speak to another Endless but it seems to be customary to hold it, tell your sibling that you hold their sigil and than ask permission to enter their realm, or call them into yours.
Realm: Destiny's realm is named The Garden of the Forking Ways, it's a labyrinth that represents the life's journey. Destiny is commonly known to simply walk its paths, for he's the only one who knows its ways and as he walks it blindly he turns the pages of his Book. However, the Garden is not the only aspect of his realm, he also has a great house in which his gallery is located and where a great table lies. Those who come unto his realm do so under his invitation, and when he does invite, it's because the book says it was to be so. It seems his realm was the place where the entire Endless family most commonly gathered, the last time being when Destruction announced abandoning his duties.
Sigil: Destiny's sigil is The Book of Destiny, its pages contain all the knowledge of all things, past, present, and future. It is chained to Destiny's writsts who spends all his time reading it, ironic considering his blindness. The Book seems to have an utmost power as it apparently cannot be destroyed or taken from Destiny, but several times in the comic universe, these laws have been broken, leading to questions at to whether those events were written by writer's who side-stepped the rules Gaiman established or because the powers of the Book have been exaggerated.
Followers: Unlike most of his younger brothers and sisters, Destiny has no specific "followers", whereas individuals can be limited to feeling desire, despair or delirium...destiny is a path we all must take, even Lucifer.
Realm: Death's realm is one of the least explored Endless dwelling places, and in fact is never actually given an official name but it has been referred to as " The Light at the End of the Tunnel" or in The Books of Magic #66 Tim Hunter jokingly refers to it as "The Dying" in reference to The Dreaming. Also, despite what some people would think, her realm is not actually the place where the dead end up when they die, rather it is more of a pit-stop. Why this was done is most likely because Gaiman wanted to implement numerous mythologies into the Sandman story and that would require several different afterlives. Some of the places Death has brought individuals to include the Underworld from Greek myths, Heaven and Hell from numerous religions and the Mansions of the Silence. Another interesting thing about Death's home is she appears capable of changing it at will, which is seen when her nephew Orpheus seeks an audience with her and what he finds is a cozy but cluttered room with some goldfish and a teddy bear (named Cavendish in Books of Magic #4). She says that's the way she likes it (insinuating she is out of the regular time-stream since it's appearance mimics a time period closer to our own then that of ancient Greece), but she adjusts it instantaneously to a place better suited to what he might expect. Many years later, when Tim Hunter finds himself in Death's home, it appears very much the same as when Orpheus first arrived only this time Death gives a tour, including her very cluttered closet though she claims the one in the bedroom is much worse.
Sigil: Death's sigil is the symbol of life, an ankh, which she wears as a necklace. What power exactly it holds is kept rather vague, and the mystery is deepened in the High Cost of Living miniseries. When Death becomes mortal for a day through the form of Didi, her ankh is taken from her by Theo who was working for The Eremite, who is a mystery all his own. Initially he captures both the ankh and Death but when she escapes he remains steadfast that he will get her back because he has her symbol of power. She on the other hand is unworried and although she tells her companion Sexton that the ankh holds power it is not in the way The Eremite thinks. In fact only moments later she buys a little metal ankh from a street vendor for ten bucks and it seemingly assumes the role of being her sigil and the previous one is forgotten. Didi then passes on to meet Death of the Endless (through drowning herself in a fountain) and The Eremite is left empty-handed, deciding that perhaps it's not possible to escape death after all. What he did with the ankh he had stolen is unknown.
Followers: Like her brother Destiny, Death has no specific followers, for everyone is her's sooner or later, everyone sees her at the end. It is said everyone sees Death twice, once at birth (though no one recalls this due to infancy) and once at death (they usually go into it kicking and screaming). A defining look at what she does, and her relationship with the people she takes can be seen in The Sandman #8, her first appearance, although she can be seen taking other individuals as well, including Joshua Abraham Norton who was a mere mortal that Dream, Despair, Desire and Delirium all fought for control over. Yet in the end, it was to Death that he came. There are always exceptions however who manage to see here more then twice, people who get resurrected or just individuals higher on the status scale (usually the "immortals" and such), or all the individuals who were displaced by Lucifer's abandoning Hell, but she takes every life until the End of the Universe proven in Neil Gaiman's original Books of Magic miniseries when she takes Destiny and closes the universe behind her.
Realm: The Dreaming is one of the main settings of the Sandman story and is a lot more developed then any of the other Endless residences. It also seems a lot more diverse and is actually the only realm (excluding the rats in The Gray Realm) that appears to have life dwelling within it apart from one of the Endless. Besides the dreamers who enter it every night, there are the dreams themselves, thousands upon thousands of creatures from Cain and Abel (Keepers of Mysteries and Secrets respectively) to Lucien (librarian) and Mervyn Pumpkinhead (janitor) to a slew of others including The Corinthian (nightmare), Matthew Cable (Dream's raven companion) and Fiddler's Green (a place) to name a notable few. Of course The Dreaming itself seems to be alive and is always changing, it's quite malleable especially to the caress of Dream's hands and even damageable as seen in the cases of Rose Walker being the Vortex, an entity that comes to exist every few ages or so whose innate power if unchecked will destroy the Dreaming. When Dream was absent from The Dreaming for 70 years, what he returned to was dying and in disarray but he seems to be capable of restoring it to full vitality, although not always with ease.
Sigil: Dream's sigil is the Dream Helm which he usually only wears when heading into battle or at a time when he wants to be seen as a fearsome god, however, Dream actually possesses multiple objects of power. Three to be exact. One of them is a sand pouch, that tool often associated with the mythical Sandman, the sands which he sprinkles over the eyes to induce sleep and dreams. And his most powerful tool is the Dreamstone, a gem most commonly associated with Dr. Destiny. Initially Dream's power was tied to the Dreamstone as he had poured so much of himself into it but it was in a battle with the crazed villain that the Dreamstone was destroyed and Dream's power restored to himself, leaving him less tied to his objects of power.
Followers: Once again, in this area Dream differs from most of his siblings, for of them all, he seems the most "human". Whereas the other Endless could not really be bothered by mortals or at least befriending them, Dream has sought multiple mortal lovers and gained several mortal friends as well. Although he tends to be aloof, the very fact that he has so many subjects makes true solitude impossible. However, one case of Dream showing what it means to be "his" comes with Joshua Abraham Norton, a man on the brink of the abyss contemplating suicide. He was the object of a challenge amongst the younger Endless who challenged Dream to a game in which they would see if he could keep the man out of his sister's realms before Death finally came for him. Initially Dream refused to join such a game but he eventually gave in and granted the man a dream. Soon after Joshua proclaims himself Emperor of the United States of America. Delirium comes for him then, but she realizes that he is not her's for "his madness keeps him sane". Even Desire takes a go at him, but his dream is too pure and true, and those lesser dreams/desires do not interest him and therefore Dream wins the challenge proving that feelings of desire, despair and delirium cannot exist without dreams. Another important dreamer is Barbie who established an entire a world within the Dreaming that took on a life of its own and at one point crossed over to the mortal plane in seeking her to save them. The attendance at his Wake proved how vast an amount of beings have ties to Dream.
Realm: Since Destruction was so rarely seen while in the role of one of The Endless, most of these three areas are unknowns. A realm apart from our world where he resided was never seen but Destruction believes it continues to exist without him. However, when he lived in hiding, he brought his gallery with in him where he left it in a locked room of his house which he called "The Family Room". He also equipped it with an alarm system should anyone try to seek him out for he had no intention of being found. When Dream and Delirium did find him, he ended their short reunion by destroying his gallery all except for his sigil (preventing his role from being passed on) and scrying pool.
Sigil: He's never seen wielding it, not even the few times he demonstrated his powers, but Destruction's sigil has been revealed to be a sword which he keeps with him so that a new Destruction will never have to take it up.
Followers: Whether anyone can live in destruction as they can in despair, desire, delirium or dreams and be one of Destruction's is unknown but unlikely. However, in the Sandman: Endless Nights, a woman named Rachel is plagued by dreams, dreams of the end (destruction) of the world, and during a strange archaeological excavation on a peninsula that Delirium says only exists because of her and Destruction being there, she sees Destruction and although their meeting is short, she becomes entranced by him and after they part ways and the peninsula disappears, her dreams no longer haunt her and in their place are dreams of "a man whose name isn't Joe" (a.k.a. Destruction).
Realm: Desire's realm, the second ever seen is called The Threshold and from an aerial shot it is revealed to be the form of Desire itself, a statue of its body in which Desire (of course) lives in the heart. Although there is nothing really to compare its size to, of all the realms it appears to be the smallest, as it is the only thing to see in Desire's realm. However, it has been said to be larger than one could easily imagine.
Sigil: As Desire lives in a heart, so is its sigil a heart. Not an actual wielded or worn item of power like most of the others, it seems mostly symbolic of how easily a heart is overcome with desire.
Followers: The best example of a true disciple of Desire's teachings seen in comics is the mortal woman Kara, who wanted the son of her chief (who had a reputation for making love to women almost constantly) more than anything but didn't trust any love potions. So, upon the advice of a witch she sought out a man-woman with golden eyes. Kara eventually found Desire and was brought to its realm for a short time before she learned the art of desire and went on her way. And so she learned that by not giving in to the man she pursued right away and denying him time and time again that he would only desire her more. Eventually they were wed but shortly thereafter he was murdered and the group that killed him came to Kara for hospitality, hoping to frighten her and have their way with her after she saw her husband's head on her table. Yet she did not even acknowledge his head and instead played the men upon each other with ease, making them all desire her, not lust for that she could not control, but desire was easy. Her plan succeeds and the men are so spent that the following morning they are all slaughtered by the returning men of Kara's tribe. After sharing her story Kara admits that she does not think anyone ever has or will love as they did.
Realm: Despair dwells in The Gray Realm alongside her rats, the realm is filled with fog and countless free-floating mirrors...mirrors in which people are looking at themselves, and Despair is looking back at them.
Sigil: Her sigil, which she is always wearing on her finger is a hooked ring with which she hooks hearts and pulls them deep into despair. However, she does not save the barbed hook of her ring for merely those who fall into her grasp but on herself. Despair is masochistic, and has been seen using the ring to cut up her face and even going so far as to pop her eyeball and leave humours flowing down her cheek.
Followers: Joshua Abraham Norton, when first seen was Despair's and contemplating suicide before Dream gave him an aspiration. However, in Endless Nights, the fourth chapter entitled "15 Portraits of Despair" shows more fully what it means to be in despair. Examples being a man of the cloth abandoned by his church when charged with a sexual crime that he did not commit or a woman on disability leave who begins acquiring cats only to leave for the weekend and return to find most of the seventy dead with those that survived having eaten their fellows. Gaiman said he originally intended to do 25 but in retrospect thought it best they only went with 15.
Realm: Delirium's World is as mad as she is, it is shown as a vast assortment of all sorts of colors, words and items and directions...although Dream is shown to be able to navigate it by focusing on Delirium and traveling towards the center, at which there is a broken sundial reading Tempus Frangit, it can be assumed most people who end up in her world never escape. In fact Delirium even threatens her elder brother, saying she could make it so he could never leave her realm, and would constantly think he is only to end up deeper and deeper into it.
Sigil: Delirium's sigil, like herself, is extremely colorful, but at one point after she feels Dream betrayed her it goes completely black. This is seen by Dream as Delirium not wanting any visitors but Death forces him to go make up for his errors and calm her down.
Followers: In Endless Nights, it is shown that in the time after Morpheus' death, Delirium had a breakdown of unknown origins and that in her state of madness, neither Barnabas or Daniel could get to her without losing their own minds so Daniel sent out a call across the city to Del's people and five came...a catatonic young female rape victim, a man who wrote down whatever he saw believing he knew more then he should, a woman who believed her babies had been taken from her, a man who wrote the exploits of the Sky Boys on their journeys through Hell and would punish himself if he didn't get down ten pages a day as he was saving them and a man who saw rainbows and believed himself to have accessed a higher power. Although neither Daniel or Barnabas has much faith in them, together the group manages to save the little girl who was hurt (Del) and some even let go of their sickness (in the form of fishes).
Dread of the Endless (Echo): When Echo is first introduced in the arc "Souvenirs", s/he is nothing more then a cross-dressing male lover of Gabriel Ashe (a victim of the first Corinthian). Echo helps Gabriel follow in the footsteps of the very man who ate his eyes by providing him with victims (since he cannot see). Eventually this leads to intervention from Matthew and the second Corinthian, Gabriel's crimes are repaid to him by the Corinthian and Echo loses one eye but is left alive. His/her life goes downhill without Gabriel and she ends up destitute, and while lying weak and on the brink of death in a cot of a rundown building she is attacked by thieves seeking drugs they believe are stashed there. They knock Echo unconscious and leave...but by the time Echo's friend returns "home", Echo is dead.
Echo awakes not in the afterlife but in The Dreaming where she takes on a woman's body, a woman who coincidentally just happens to look exactly like a former lover of Lucien. When Daniel decides to punish the second Corinthian for his part in Matthew's death, Echo is made the third Corinthian. She takes on the role of a Nightmare gladly and takes special pleasure in tormenting the now-mortal Corinthian (known as Alex Corinth). Things seem to be going well until Brute and Glob resurface and get Echo on their side to rally the other Nightmares and revolt against Dream.
The first place they go is the abandoned House of Mystery, once inside the House begins talking to Echo and it asks her to be its keeper and then pours all of itself into her, all mysteries. Now, filled with this new power, she takes the next step and absorbs the House of Secrets as well and her army of Nightmares comes to her. Having captured Abel, she asks him to reveal the truth about her to the Nightmares but he says there's nothing to tell so instead she shares "the truth". That she is the twin sister of Dream, and that he was jealous of her but since he could not kill her he hid her in the sleeping souls of men and now she has finally awakened.
Echo authentically believes herself to be Dread of the Endless but it is later revealed that the spirits of the Houses were lying to her, poisoning her mind for their own ends as Dream had kept a secret from them, a secret that Cain whispered into their ear. With the secret whispered, they left their host and all was restored, leaving Echo alone until Daniel came to her and said that the old Dream would have uncreated her but he believes that in his infinite world there shall be a place for her yet.
Duplicity and Deceit of the Endless (Garamas and Gyges): In the wake of Yahweh leaving behind his creation, Gyges wakes up his brother Garamas and informs him of this new development. Garamas at first cannot remember who Yahweh is but upon being reminded he agrees with his brother that this puts their own positions in question. Garamas however has his own ideas and decides that they're are older orders upon which they can graft themselves. So it is that they enter The Dreaming and come to the doors of Dream's fortress, Gyges besting the Gate Keepers by grabbing one in each hand. They try to force Dream's hospitality but as it turns out Dream is not home so the one to greet them (from the window of an upper room) is Lucien.
Garamas (holding a large ankh) explains to him that they are Duplicity and Deceit of the Endless and that they should be allowed to enter, on family business. Lucien replies that duplicity and deceit are the same thing and that he knows they are the Titans, Garamas and Gyges. He also adds that since Dream left his home specific instructions to defend itself and that he suspects they will be leaving. As the entire palace comes to life and takes an aggressive stance the Titans do leave, and Gyges proposes seeking refuge at Desire's Threshold but Garamas has a better idea, why not become Yahweh themselves. (They do actually...but that's another story).