Ship: The Airship Isabella
Title: Time Keeper
Age: Technically 7, though appears to be in late teens, early twenties.
Race: Clockwork Doll
Date of Birth: May 1852 (Astrological Sign - Gemini)
Surprisingly there is far more personality behind Nyxie than one may expect. Undoubtedly due to age and her first master, she is incredibly child-like in her mindset, naïve and curious about the worlds around her. Though she often doesn’t enjoy being treated too much like a child as she tries to play grown-up constantly to show she can handle herself, despite most of the time she is more apt to run and cling to someone else, especially Amarante Leroux. This is not to say Nyxie is carefree, she does present herself as happy, often she has a bit of a melancholic air about her, troubled by the guilt of her past. More than anything Nyxie has a desire to be human, to live life as a human, and to shed the immortality of her current body. Unfortunately she has no idea how to do so and is plagued by envy for those who are, she attempts to keep that ugly thing hidden. Any off-time she may have she enjoys spending curled up with a teddy bear named Remy, named after her first master, playing dress-up, and just watching humans interact. Primarily peaceful, Nyxie prefers to let others engage in acts of violence, though when pushed into desperate situations even she is capable of bloodshed.
I was once simply Nyxie, but in honor of the one who desired my existence I am Nyxie Essex. Unlike most of you, I was not birthed into this world meant to have life; I was an inanimate object, a toy meant to provide joy for children. Unfortunately the child who owned me belonged to an aristocratic family. His life spent at his parent’s parties and then alone in his room, only a strict private tutor saw him, and his toys were his only company. During an outing with his mother while he was waiting for her to finish her shopping, he was spotted by mysterious older woman. Seeing he was alone with only his toys, she spoke of strange wonders such as magic and the possibility of bringing to life his favorite toy. The witch promised him a friend, the one the he wanted most in the world.
One night the boy snuck out, taking with him, a small doll named Nyxie, his closest friend in collection of toys. She was given to the witch to bring to life. Her means of bringing the doll to life came from long forgotten myths, in fact the doll not only gained life, but grew in size. The process took two full moon cycles before it was complete, and when the boy returned to reclaim his toy, he found a life size version of his doll. She appeared to be as human as he was.
I awoke to stare at old witch and the young boy, told that this boy was to be my friend. To be honest I was not created with the understanding of such concepts. I was essentially an infant in an adult’s body. My knowledge of emotions was limited, I had no memories and only a faint understanding of the world. I was born with a desire to know of these things however and I was told it was the boy who could teach me of such things. So happily I went with him unaware of the tragedy that would follow.
When the boy brought me home his parents were shocked, but assumed very different things about me. His father simply thought me to be a confused young woman with no place to go. He decided to make me a maid in his home, given a room and food, which I did not consume, and watching over their son when the tutor had more important business. His mother did not react so calmly about my presence, from the moment I met her, the woman claimed I was not right. My presence upset her, greatly, yet her husband would not allow her to throw me out. Despite the turmoil around me, I lived in blissful naivety with this boy I called my only friend.
Young Remington Essex was a lovely creature, passionate and had been full of life since my arrival. Each day he would come from the study with something new he had learned, eager to tell me of it, his favorite being the strange far off lands where trees dominant the horizon, and strange, exotic creatures crawl, these places are called jungles I think. I was almost as eager as he was each day to know what he gift of knowledge he’d provide me with next, it was how I learned my most basic skills, besides those born with me.
Unfortunately his mother began to grow worse in her response to me. She delved into what they called religion, asking that god guide her to deal with the evil in the house. I had no idea what she had meant by it, I did not understand what evil was. However she began to strike what they said was fear in me as she accused me of blocking her prayers, said I was her husband’s mistress, and stealing her son. One day when she struck me in anger and did not bleed, she said " the devil would always protect his bride." Her husband, who I thought to be a reasonable man, only grew angrier with her. Instead of quelling the woman’s nightmares he appeared to make them worse as the stress of failing business began to consume him. He sunk into despair, using some potent drink called alcohol to make troubles go away, but I believe they only ever made them worse. Lord Essex started watching me closer, cornering me as I did my evening chores, I knew little of what he intended. I had no idea he was only solidifying his wife’s fears of an affair with the maid even though at the time I had no idea of such subjects.
I suppose the point I should have worried was a day in Lady Essex came to me sobbing. In her hands she weakly clutched the cross saying her prayers and begging me to return her husband and son to her. I claimed I had not taken them anywhere, that they were still here with her. Having not confessed to the devil and approaching her with kindness only angered her. She accused me of lying to her and deceiving her family. When she went after me once more young Remington ran into the hall yelling at his mother to stop. This alerted her husband who instead of speaking with his wife struck her, and physically dragged her to their room. I knew not what happened but Remington took me to the attic where we sat the entire night.
The next day, very calmly, Lady Essex approached and asked me to run out and retrieve a wreath of black flowers. Knowing no significance of it I agreed, happy she was not cursing me. After being given a hug by a teary eyed florist, I returned home to meet Lord Essex on the porch who only stared at wreath in my arms in horror, before demanding to know why I had bought it. I informed him of the request from his wife. Immediately he went inside, and I followed. I recall all too well Lady Essex in front of the bath dressed in a black dress with a long veil, and when she saw us she turned with a happy smile as lifted the boy. He was pale, unmoving, no longer flushed with the pink of life, and she was smiling. “He is safe with god now.”
Lord Essex dragged her away from Remington violently, removing her from the bathroom and into their bedroom. I was left alone with the boy, and being naïve to death I tried to wake him. It was not until Master Essex’s return was I made aware the boy would never live again, and my friend was lost to me. Naively I asked of death, prodded where I should not have, but my lack of understanding and desire to retrieve my friend from this God was overwhelming. Foolishly I followed him into his study where he again began drinking, and I believe I pushed him too far. He started towards me with a strange look in his eyes. Grabbing my wrist he pressed me against the fall forceful, muttering about what lovely pale skin I had, pressing his lips to the skin of my neck. I grew fearful disliking what he was attempting to do and in panic I pushed him away. I only angered him. As he had done to his wife he struck me hard, using the glass in his hand, calling me ungrateful for the hospitality he had given me. Lord Essex went silent then amazed to see me standing after being struck simply holding my face. When I removed my hand he stared in utter horror at me as a shard of glass fell to the ground. Horrified the last thing I heard him say was his wife was right and he was damned for his actions.
I returned to the bathroom where young Remington had been drowned. His body removed and in the bedroom waiting for his body to be retrieved for the funeral. When I looked in the mirror at my face I noticed for the first time the cracks that formed, and a shard missing that revealed the hints of gold gears under this skin. It felt like others skin, but it did not act as such. Holding the missing shard in my hand I fit it back into place before watching a faint teal glow lock it back into place. It was the first time I recall crying. Knowing I did not bleed as Lady Essex did when her husband wounded her, I did not breathe as Remington did. I knew that I was truly not human.
After what I assume was an hour or so of crying, I emerged from the bathroom after hearing a loud noise. Running down the stairs I went into Lord Essex’s room. I saw Lady Essex bound tightly in the bed sheets crying and laughing as she stared at Lord Essex slumped down in a chair. In his hand an object that I had seen referred to as a gun. Soft pink clumps and the red crimson liquid I knew as blood, which I clearly lacked, splattered against floral wall paper. I attempted to wake him, and like Remington he would not wake. Lady Essex laughed as she watched claiming that death had come for him, that Devil took the soul which I had taken for him. I recall only moments later both a man in black with a cross around his neck, with two men dressed in white coats entered. “The men in white have come to take me away, keep me safe from the devil’s whore.” As she said they had taken her and the priest muttered words to God to save protect Remington’s soul and save Lady Essex from her madness.
The priest asked me to stay put until the police arrived so they could question me. He also asked of my family and where I had to go. When I revealed I had no one he called me an orphan. The priest said he would take me to the house of God, a place called a convent, where I would be safe. Both out of fear of this God and anger I would not go with the man. When he spoke with the men in white I slipped out the back and ran as far as my legs would carry me.
However the world was a busy place, moving too fast for me to quite understand. I knew not where to go, nor was anyone to willing to help a strange thing like me that wandered the streets. Many assumed I was what they called a lady of the evening or a whore, which Lady Essex often called me. I still did not understand what it meant but I knew it was nothing good. Those few who did help me, I remained most thankful for.
In London a shop-keeper by the name of Mischa found me wandering in rags behind his store. He did not pay me but gave me shelter, in exchange I would do as I did for the Essex. I washed clothing, cleaned, and organized his stock when he asked. With my stay though he seemed always happy and claimed it was nice to have such a pretty thing to have for company. Mischa had lost his wife during childbirth and his daughter had eloped apparently, he said having me around was like he had a little girl again. Yet one day the authorities came in while I was in the back room with a warrant to arrest Mischa. He was accused of being a Russian spy, whatever that was, which was a war crime? I understood little of what they said to him, the only thing I knew is that they were taking him to this Death again. I last saw him hanging from a rope that was wrapped around his neck. This was the work of Death once more.
It was then I decided I would leave London. Any I cared about seemed only to be hunted down by Death and I feared that I would soon meet this person face to face. My last days in the city were spent relying on little kind acts of strangers but I would not linger long, for I feared Death perhaps was following me. Maybe Lady Essex had been right, that I had offended this God and he sent Death after me...
My escape from London came in the form of a small vessel heading towards that place Remington had spoke of, India. Excited to see the lands my child master never got to, in his honor and for my own curiosity, I decided I would go. I managed to sneak aboard this small ship, or tug boat, of an airship. The marvel that was an airship was fascinating to me. While I had seen many steam powered inventions, something that could fly was inspiring. One could go anywhere they wished in the sky, maybe even escape Death that way.
Mid-flight I was discovered by the crew, but with luck and a little skill they mistook me for a lifeless doll that had ended up on the wrong ship. A pretty doll to sell as an overpriced idol, least that’s what they intended to do. They would never get to as I snuck away after landing. I discovered this India was a gorgeous place. The trees were so green, full of life and the sky beautiful and blue. There was no smoke like the skyline of London. The natives style of dress was beautiful, the way they danced was elegant yet unique… dare say I loved the place, though I cannot say for certain as love still seems entirely too complex for me to grasp fully. I found shelter briefly with a native family, ones who found me as equally fascinating as I found them. I admit I barely recall their names, as I could hardly understand them, but it was still a wonderful experience.
All good things come to an end however. The village I was staying in started suffering, people began to decay, turn odd shades, and the British who had come said that Plague and Famine had struck. The Officials running the city, as I had learned that England had control of the area, began to evacuate some of the population. Only the people with pale skin would be allowed to leave. I was pulled onto a ship during an outing and forced to leave the town. They said the only thing left for the village was Death and they had to get all British citizens out of there. Death had followed me even here, but even I knew that perhaps with the medicine imported in they could have saved the villages. For the first time I felt a sense of anger with man for abandoning his kind and simply leaving them for Death to claim. Plague, could be conquered by medicine, and surely with help they could have overcome the Famine, the population simply was too poor to afford to pay what they officials desired. So they were given up to Death and it’s cohorts.
Perhaps we had crossed paths with Death as he went to India or some greater good brought these men to justice. They would pay for their actions dearly. During my stay in India, England had gotten itself involved in an event known as the Crimean War. Our navigator, who I assumed may have been consuming alcohol while piloting, steered the ship right over a battlefield. With no proper identification other than a British flag on it, we were immediately shot down. In the crash all the men aboard had perished. I was the only survivor of the crash though my legs were damaged to the point I could not walk. I did not become aware of this until I awoke being held by a man in a red uniform, as another dressed the same way spent time wrapping my legs to hold the pieces of my legs together. Unlike most women in my situation I did not panic, only watching as the man rather expertly realigned the gears and glass back into place.
The two soldiers were part of the British force heading towards a place they called the holy lands. Apparently this place known as Russia was trying to overtake land there and the British forces were aiding the Turks. I did not understand it but I knew Russia was where Mischa had been from. The two soldiers turned out to be brothers serving in the same unit. Henry, the one who exercised masterful mechanic abilities, and Donner the one who had been holding me as Henry tended to me. Both decided it would be in poor taste to just leave me alone returned to their camp with me. Henry distracting the other soldiers with a tale about some mirage he had seen while Donner returned to his tent and hid me away from the others. With Henry’s aid and the nature of my being, which even I do not entirely understand, were restored to working order and after weeks the cracks would disappear.
When traveling Donner would be the one to carry me with him at the back of the caravan, helping keep my presence hid for some time. Those who did discover simply assumed I was one of the brother’s lady of the evening, which I still did not understand what that was. I learned that Henry was the younger of the two brothers. He had become a soldier in hopes of earning enough money for schooling after the war. Donner was engaged to be married to a noble woman named Mildred Orwelshire, daughter of some high official. Henry was not, being young of age he joked there was no rush and with a wife he would never finish school. Despite the grim nature of what they would experience they were both generally positive individuals.
Despite having similar appearances it was obvious the two were very different in nature. Henry was a dreamer, someone who longed to be elsewhere constantly, and thinking of the things he could be doing besides fighting. He was always fun to talk to because of his fascination with what I was. When I was honest about what had happened to me he assured me we would go find the witch to question her someday. Magic and steamworks sometimes I think it was the only thing ever on his mind. Donner, was bound to the cause, dedicated to every task he took. Taking care of me I assume was one of those tasks… he was always there checking on me, wondering if I was alright. Despite he knew what I was he treated me still like a living girl, a human being. Henry said he had a strong sense of duty and a good heart, one that was too soft for war. I heard them argue only once over the very subject. Donner spoke of being given a promotion that would take him back to England that he did not wish to take, unable to abandon the soldiers he had become friends with. His fiancé however was putting pressure on him to take it due to the increased pay. I heard Henry get angry and slam down his mug calling the girl a spoiled brat who had no need for wealth, and that only wanted to Donner for title. I remember him clearly saying “if that girl ever breaks your heart brother I will run her through with my damn spear, I do not care who her father is.”
The pleasant travel came to an end however when we arrived at the battlefield. I recall the details of it too clearly. Donner made sure I was left at the camp when the troops marched. I followed though wondering why so many carried guns and sharp steel with them. On the edge of the field I saw enough to know the horrors of war. People ending other people’s lives over something such as land and freedom, Henry had once told me they even fought in the name of God sometimes. Watching the battlefield I knew Death was there that day, taking lives from the battlefield. At the end of the day the shooting would stop, and the soldiers began walking around trying to find their dead. I decided it was then safe to reveal myself. I began searching through trying to recognize the faces of the men…. And I found Henry’s body. I collapsed beside him desperately trying to wake him up hoping some part of him still clung to life. God had allowed Death to take another friend of mine. When Donner discovered I was missing he returned to the field to find me next to his brother. It was the first time I had ever seen a grown man cry.
At the loss of his brother, I decided it would be best I stay with Donner, fearful that perhaps he would follow in a way Lord Essex had to this God. I remained his companion when he cried, listening to him recount happier times, and I desperately wishing I could remove his pain. While he improved, I do not believe he was ever the same man again. Part of him always weighed very heavy, and his protectiveness of me increased. His condition only worsened when his fiancé wrote to him a letter breaking off their engagement after his refusal to accept rank. Donner suffered from… heart break? Henry had told me Mildred had been a woman he had long pined away after and only after going into the service had she agreed to marry him. His very honor would be what led her to leave him. I felt part of me feel like it was splitting as I watched him go day to day in such pain. Several times he tried to force me to leave, telling me the battlefield was no place for a woman, I would not leave him. Each morning he would say it, leave for the field and I sat patiently waiting too scared I would find his body as I had Henry’s, but every night he returned. One night… I even slept next to him as I sometimes did with young Remington when we had stayed up too late reading stories.
I never did understand war. Why men used such weapons to lure others to death. The reasoning behind the fighting did not make sense to me. Why take away life? Did that not damn the soldiers as murderers as they had claimed Lady Essex to be? I questioned the circumstances in which killing someone was alright… still I never did quite grasp it all. Donner tried to explain it once that good and bad but then confessed that was hardly true. He called them pawns to a bigger game. I did grow to understand though if the war continued I may lose Donner as I had Henry. I admittedly started trying to figure out how to use the weapons, borrowing Henry’s spear at times. I could never bring myself to actually harm any creature though as I never thought it was my place to try and take an innocent thing’s life.
Donner discovered my attempt to learn, and amused taught me basic defense but made me swear that just because I could defend myself that I would not follow him as I had the day of Henry’s death. I promised him but I did not keep it, as I felt as though Death was near again. During the night they received information about enemy movement, and planned an ambush upon an enemy camp. After Donner had left I followed the unit out taking Henry’s spear, convinced with a weapon I ought to be safe. I did not quite understand just because one had a weapon that it required skill to use it. Soldier’s had made it look so simple.
The ambush did not go as planned for the troops. The information they had been given had been misleading, there was no enemy encampment lying in wait, only a trap. I arrived as the deafening fire began and the field caught fire, I assume a ration of alcohol must have been hit, I had seen how flammable it was in the past. There was nothing I could have done, so I hid away for as long as I could, drawn out only when I had caught a glimpse of Donner. Scared that Death may have been hunting him I ran in the direction he had went, noticing the increasing number of red coated men on the ground. When I got there I saw Donner surrounded by a group of strange men, holding him, trying to force him to reveal information about other troop movements. He refused. Two men forced him to stand, and in his last moments he made eye contact with me. He said nothing but the look he gave me… I understood. I turned to run as I heard the gun shots, and I did not look back. One of the Russian soldiers had spotted me and chased after me. I did not run fast enough.
He caught hold of me and forced me to drop Henry’s spear to the ground. At first he muttered is Russian as I pulled away, only to start speaking heavily accent English when he was certain I could not escape. He as many others had called me a whore, harlot, and terrible names that I did not understand the full meaning, and grabbed me by the hair trying to get me to leak information I had learned from the soldiers. I knew nothing of what they wanted and tried to tell him, but he did not believe me. He tossed me down onto the ground and began to remove parts of his clothing. Growing more desperate to get away my hands clawed for anything, and again found Henry’s spear. When he came for me again I waited, wondering if he noticed where my hand was. He spoke disgusting things about my body… things I wish I had not heard, and when lowered himself to attempt it, I reacted violently. I jammed Henry’s spear right into his chest, and he fell to the ground with a pool of crimson beneath him. It was the first and only time I had ever just given someone to death. I pulled the spear out and continued running until my spirit finally broke. I remember falling to the ground and crying until I fell asleep.
After that night I spent days walking, maybe weeks, just walking as I no longer knew what purpose I had in this world. If I was not walking I was either mourning the loss of Donner, or speaking to the air as if Death was listening to me. At times is begged to make peace and other times when my sadness turned to anger I would curse him, and occasionally I would simply cry because I knew nothing else. During one of these episodes I would finally find civilization once more.
I had finally reached some strange place where no one spoke a word of English. Their language was smooth and beautiful though but being unable to communicate with anyone after finally have finding people again I broke down crying. At least in India when people did not understand me they attempted to communicate through gestures, and pictures, most simply walked on. I collapsed in an alleyway when the tears finally started again, and out of a building across the street came a well dressed middle aged man. When he approached I stared up hopeless at him before shaking my head, and sobbing once more. He knelt down and pulled out a hankerchief to dry my eyes and ask me in English what was wrong. I was so stunned I just sat there staring at him. The man chuckled a bit and told me not to be afraid and guided me back across the street at an inn he was staying at.
When I spoke to him finally, only telling him that I was lost and that the war had taken the family I had known, he expressed a great deal of sympathy. He put my spear away saying it was inappropriate for a lady to be wandering around with such things. The man gave me clothing and told me only to call him “Father.” It was then I should have realized the trap I had fallen into, but having been consumed by my own loneliness any company was better than nothing. I learned that he had been travelling searching for a new act. Hoping to repay him I asked him what such an act was, and he said dancing. I had never danced but it had sounded interesting. When I asked him to show me, I would emulate him, I did not realize some of what I was executing was only to be done by dancers of years of practice. In weeks I had been learning. Unlike humans I did not struggle too much with things like balance, as my parts seemed designed to keep me so. He always said I had the body of a dancer…
One day he asked if I would like to perform for people, bring smiles to their faces. The illusion I would be making people happy as well as him convinced me to do so. At one time I loved it, it helped me forget, but then he discovered what I was. While rehearsing one day my foot had hit a slick spot on the stage, cracking the hand I had fallen on. When he approached I tried to hide it but he rather forcefully too my hand to see. He pulled some of the glass out just to reveal the mechanics beneath my skin. It was then he seemed to act less as a father did and more as an owner, I was no longer a living person with a right, I was his “daughter” his doll that he could do what he liked to.
Once I was done with my act he started locking me within my room. When we started to travel it was a room that was essentially cage with tarps draped over me at night, which allowed him during the day to allow him to put me on display as some exhibit, as a freak. I was supposedly so great modern invention of science which I claimed to have created. Once when angry I argued with him that I was not his creation, he was not the witch, to which he excused me of making up some fairytale about. He assumed I was just some escaped creation of another inventor that was almost human in every way and could emulate human emotions nearly perfectly. All my emotions were pretend… and masterfully portrayed, and at times I wondered if I was not just some fake.
After our argument he decided to make a modification to my body. Cracking open my back he made it so a pair of wings he designed could attach for the days I was one display and be removed when I was to dance. Day in and day out this was my lot in life, becoming a doll of display in a collection of freaks of nature he found and gave jobs. More than once I asked Death to come and at long last take me to where he had taken Remington, Mischa, Donner, and Henry… but he never came, I wonder if he was simply content in watching me suffer.
One day I noticed the lock on my cage had not clicked all the way. Without hesitation pulled it open and slipped out. I had no idea where I was going, but any place was better than remaining the cage. I into the village, trying to find a way to leave as quickly as possible, which I had hopes for escape until I began to hear members of a Airship had been hired to track me down. With their Commander and Lead Scout hunting me, I would not get very far. My fate rested in the hands of the Isabella, who completed their job by returning me to my Father despite my begging.
All hope was not lost though, as it seemed the idea had not settled well into all of their minds. And eventually I was brought onto the ship, adopted as a member of the crew ending the hell I endured within that circus. Though I grow fearful for those I surround, for those I have ever expressed any love and connection to, have all befallen horrible fates and been taken from me by death. Perhaps they will aid in finding the answer to why such follows me, and just….maybe a way I could become human… I know such ideas are far-fetched, but one can dream no?
© Airship Isabella 2012