::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.::
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!))