Death was a funny thing. It crept up on you so slowly, hiding in the shadows of your every move, waiting for the perfect moment to swallow you whole. Fabian was no stranger to death. He was a pirate, after all- death was part of the job. But as the years went on, its icy grip had turned on his very own family, his lifelong friends.
First to go was Kristen, her feeble human body only lasted three quarters of a century. She died of old age, surrounded by her loved ones, and when the time came Cassandra themself came down from the heavens to guide her soul into the great unknown.
Then was Gorgug, who had miraculously surpassed the orcish lifespan by many years. Gorgug, who could be felled by no monster nor being, who was strong and kind and humble, succumbed at last to the throes of cancer.
And yet it was only now, standing before his own husband's grave, that Fabian realised the true magnitude of death. His eyes were empty as the words scratched into Riz's headstone. "Riz Gukgak-Seacaster. Beloved husband, friend and accomplished detective." Riz's step-father had written those words. Whenever Fabian tried, he came up empty. What set of phrases could have even begun to describe that man? He could feel Fig and Adaine staring at him from a distance. Their worry made him twinge with guilt. Surely they, too, had their own grief to process? Fabian was being selfish, as always. He sighed heavy and turned to leave. He heard footsteps behind him, then felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist. Fig, no doubt. After all these years she was still so affectionate with her friends. Fabian turned around and tried to conceal the way his bottom lip trembled. Adaine was there too. She placed a solemn hand on his shoulder. A flash of anger flitted across his mind. She was an oracle! Surely she could have stopped this? Fabian stilled. He hated thoughts like these. He had precious few people he cared about still walking the earth. He shouldn't push them away like this. He could feel his eyes start to prick with tears.
"Fabian," Fig said, quiet and edged with fondness, "we're here for you."