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A lone heap of ragged grey amidst a howling sea of white, Nephilis haphazardly carved his way through the knee-deep snows of the mountain slope. It wasn’t often that he strayed this far from the sands, but something had been calling him and he wasn’t about to refuse such an invitation.

Ah, but the snows were treacherous. Possibly moreso than the desert, Nephilis struggled to keep himself warm, bundling himself in his cloak as tightly as his spidery limbs could manage, but still the stinging pain of wet ice seeped through his clothes, his flesh, and settled a deep ache within his bones. He gritted his teeth and shook some rather large flakes from his face. The sun was obscured here, so there was no need for his mask. He had thought it would be nice to spend some time without it, breathing in the cool mountain air, not accounting for the possiblity of a storm.

But a storm there was, and the poor fool was right in the midst of it. He stumbled and took refuge against a grave, gripping the top of it for support against the wind that whipped at his hair and mess of loose scarves.

Squinting as the cold air bellowed into his face, Nephilis finally surrendered and turned away, looking back the way he had came, shrinking against the tombstone, clinging to what little shelter it could provide.

Why had he been summoned here? The sensation was so familiar… as if there were something here that needed to be put to rest. Something stirring beyond its means, something mourning.

Something dead.

((I tried really hard to come up with an in-character caption for this, but I just can’t do it yet. I’m not sure I know how to explain or say everything that needs to be said about it, so I’ll just put it up with some artist’s notes!))

((This concerns Nephilis at another point in time. Be it his past or his future I won’t say, but I will say that he wasn’t always a greycloak, nor is it a permanent condition.))

((His face is blurred out because I don’t intend to show it. I did actually draw what was visible of it, but I blurred it out afterwards anyways.

Oh, and who’s that figure in the background? An Ancestor maybe?))

::What is fear?::

::A sensation that makes you recoil, a feeling of deep and painful uncertainty that drives you into hiding.::

::There are those who would tell you that fear does not exist.::

::An invention of the mind devised to keep you from harm, a clear set of boundaries that, if adhered to, will keep you alive and safe.::

::But there are also those who would defy such boundaries. Those who would tell you that fear is merely trying to keep you from seeing all that there is to see, hiding the truths of the world that some force unjustly decided you weren’t meant to see.::

::Let me tell you, traveler, though there is much that is still unknown to me, I have seen many things in my day.::

::And I can tell you with the utmost certainty that not only does fear exist…::

::…it has a face, as well.::

Still dressed in his finest cloak for the Promenade...

Nephilis sat patiently in the sands, watching the multitudes of wayfarers sing and dance together in the open air. Since he had arrived at the Promenade, he was somewhat unsure what to do with himself. He was, admittedly, somewhat intimidated by the large crowd. When one spends most of their time with the whispers of the dead, large crowds of the living only seem all the more loud and unruly. But it wasn’t the roar of the crowd or the rambunctious energy that unsettled the graverobber. In fact, the more he watched the crowd, the more it seemed to fill him with an energy he thought he’d lost long ago. Dead lips tell few stories as inspiring as a child’s laughter or a lover’s kiss. Life was a beautiful song, of which Nephilis seemed to have forgotten the key. In truth, he was somewhat ashamed and the disturbance that plagued him stemmed from himself and himself alone. As he listened to others tell tales of high adventure and debauchery, his tongue felt knotted. As he watched them embrace and dance, his body felt stiff and rigid. As he heard them sing and chirp together, the empty cavity in his chest felt an unending abyss. He shifted uncomfortably in his robes as he pondered just how much of his world and his life had been forsaken to him.

For despite the fact that Nephilis often found himself in the company of the deceased, he himself was still very much alive. He was cursed, a dark and ragged thing to be certain, with a sinister purpose and an intimidating disposition, but alive nonetheless. No less so than any of the others present. His chest swelled and his ears flattened as he swallowed a knot of worrisome nerves. He may have been unable to sing, he may not know what to say to any of these new faces, and he may not have the ability to entertain or resonate that he once did, but he did have one thing.

Nephilis withdrew his old wooden flute from inside his cloak, clutching it to the best of his ability with his insectoid grasp. He pushed his mask aside from his mouth as he readied his lungs and pressed his lips to the whittled bark.

If he could not mingle, speak, or sing with the others, he would, at the very least, play them a song. Songs never forget the emotions, desires, and meaning that they were imparted with upon their conception, and where a dusty tongue may slip and fail to communicate properly, a familiar tune will more than suffice.

And so he played. For the sake of it all.

::Fifty graves in due time. That should keep me busy for quite a while.::

((WE HAVE 52 FOLLOWERS!! Thanks so much guys, I’m absolutely overjoyed that you all like Nephilis so much! I hope you continue to enjoy his travels and misadventures down the road!

Because I’m so blown away by the sheer number of people who follow him, I decided to do a reward for you guys, but here’s the catch. You have to decide.))

((The two choices are as follows, whichever gets more votes will be the one that wins, obviously, so please VOCALIZE YOUR DESIRE.))

((OPTION ONE IS TO REVEAL NEPHILIS’ FACE))

((OPTION TWO IS RIDICULOUS FANSERVICE))

((THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE))

2

((YESS PERFECT!!

Nephilis is just destined to be forever awkward and creepy, isn’t he?))

((That’s okay, that’s the way I like him. Anyways, the idea of uncomfortable scarf molestation and his own desire for them led me to drawing this. So here, have him chewing longingly on some fabric. I pity the poor soul it belongs to.))

((Also, that’s the most of his real face I’ve ever drawn.))

Recoil and Release

::You’re looking rather sorry.::
Several of the tattered graverobber’s spiderlike appendages emerged from beneath the folds of his cloak and carefully hoisted the remains of a cloth dolphin from the sands. He had fallen prey to one of the machines, no doubt, his fabric frayed and torn in several places and his brilliant red hue reduced to an ashen gray.
Nephilis brought the creature in closer for further inspection, turning it this way and that with his remarkably efficient arms. When he was finished taking notes of its condition, he promptly sat down in the soft sand and began rummaging through his cloak in search of loose fabric.
::Fortune is with you, friend.:: He explained to the quivering animal, producing several reams of tattered fabric.
::It’s not every day that I cross paths with so fresh a kill.::
Nephilis set to work tearing the fabric into strips and sewing it into the dolphin as gently as possible with his makeshift needles. The creature yelped and sounded with the faint remnants of a foggy white call, causing Nephilis to stop and hoist the creature up to his face again. ::Are you not dead yet?:: He sighed and examined it once more. ::This is going to be somewhat unpleasant for you, then. I do not often work on living subjects.:: He continued his work, grimacing at the dolphin’s cries of anguish as he ran his thread through its body. The greycloak pressed the creature to his forehead and whispered.
::Hush, little one. I know it hurts, but pain is only temporary. I do not wish to wait for you to die.::
The dolphin continued to yelp and struggle in his grasp as he worked, causing him to stop, slicing through his threads frustratedly.
::I cannot work with you writhing about like that. Please calm yourself, it will be over soon.::
The dolphin merely whimpered and tugged loosely at its binds.
Nephilis frowned. Pitiful.
::Friend, these sands are an unforgiving mother. The desert will swallow you whole without a second thought if you continue to press on in this condition. I am only trying to help you.::
But the dolphin refused and continued to buck about warily, crying out in a sorrowful, dying song. Unable to bare another second of the tragedy, Nephilis stood up and released the creature immediately, his arms vanishing back inside his cloak.
::If you insist! I can’t take this torturous wailing of your anymore, it’s abysmally depressing!::
He shook his head as the dolphin haphazardly wafted on the breeze, struggling to stay afloat.
::If your freedom is so important to you, have it. If you do not trust me, so be it! I wish you luck, but I will be leaving now!:: He shook his head. ::I cannot bare to watch you suffer any longer, especially by my own hand, you stubborn prideful, fearful thing.::

::Good day.::

Nephilis resumed his trek across the sand, gathering his shawl around him tightly to face the cold of sunset as it drew nearer. Ugh. What a morbid encounter. He resolved not to look back at the creature, lest it continue to unsettle him in his dreams tonight. He was exhausted and he certainly didn’t want to miss any opportunity for rest.

Several dozen paces later and three dunes over, Nephilis found that he was still thinking about the dolphin. He paused and turned about, glancing over his shoulder in spite of his resolution.
:: … ::
Damn thing was right there. It had followed him, whimpering and nearly dragging itself across the sands.

Nephilis flattened his ears against his head and dropped to his knees. ::Why do you haunt me??::
The dolphin continued to cry and dragged itself to him nudging its head against his knee.

::I cannot sing to you friend, it is my curse! All I can do is repair you!::

His tendrils emerged once again and he picked the creature up, cradling it in his arachnid grasp. ::Do you wish to die? If so, why do you come to me? My work is in bringing the dead back to life, not guiding the living to their ends.::
The creature trembled, its muffled chirps hardly audible by this point as it folded itself into Nephilis’ lap.

::I… I don’t….::

The dolphin let out a soulful sound for one last time, resonating with something inside of Nephilis’ cloak. He looked down at himself in disbelief. Never before had a cloth creature’s song resonated with him. What was happening?
He immediately began to search through his cloak and found the source of the reaction.

It was a wooden flute. He could hardly believe he had forgotten it. In the days before he prowled the shadows in his colorless cloak, Nephilis had played this flute. He had played it for many people on many occasions, the flood of memories was like a waterfall, engulfing him in a deafening uproar, but one instance in particular stood out from the rest.
He had played it for a dear friend on his death bed. It was his final wish to hear his favorite song one last time before he departed to the void of the beyond.
The graverobber’s ears fell loose with the weight of such personal nostalgia and he admired the flute for the first time in years. 
::What a lovely instrument….::
::Carved especially for me. It’s a shame I can’t play it anymore. Not with these hands.::
The dolphin whimpered in his lap and nudged the flute to his mask with a clatter.

::….::
::….Friend, I do not have the touch for this anymore. There’s simply no way I could-::
It clattered again against his mask.

::…:: The graverobber relaxed his shoulders and hung his head, pushing his mask up beyond his chin and mouth with one of his black needles.
::If you insist.::
Gripping the flute awkwardly in his insect-like grasp, he pressed the hollow flute to his lips and took a deep breath, glancing down at the quivering dolphin.
“Alright, but you’ll have to forgive my playing. I’m certain it won’t be what it once was.::

And with that, he finally exhaled into the flute, breathing a life of lovely song through the hollowed woodwork. It whistled a mournful and ghostly melody, one steeped in the sweet bitterness of times past and uncertainties beyond. A wilting, delicate tune, like a dying flower, whose petals had just been carried off by the last wind.

When the song had finished, Nephilis removed the flute from his mouth and opened his eyes. Night had fallen and the sands were aglow before him, bathing in the blue incandescence of the moon. He redirected his gaze to his lap and found that the dolphin had finally stopped trembling.
It lay cold and still, grey and tattered.
Another piece of loose fabric.

Without any significant hesitation, Nephilis rose to his feet and lifted the dolphin up to examine it one final time. He would do something special for this one. Make it into something lovely.
And with that, he tucked what remained of the creature in wth the rest of his spare cloth and straightened his mask.

::I suppose I should be off, then.::

And he was.

((OOC: I decided to write a short story about Nephilis. This begins to introduce several aspects of his character and personal story that I hope to explore and unwravel with all of you as I continue to write and participate in this community. So far, my experience here has been wonderful! I hope you enjoy this little snippet and I hope it gives some insight into our resident shady Graverobber. I apologize that I haven’t answered any of my recent asks, but Biscuit and I have been travelling since yesterday and neither of us has had the opportunity to work on any art just yet!))


 

 

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