The Brothers Grim
Vincenzo di Malvagio
Sallow, over-long black hair, dusty, worn mage robes
Vincenzo Calvani was a precocious child. He seemed to be running almost before he could walk, and was reading simple words while his parents still thought him amused by wooden blocks and brightly coloured string. Being raised in a well-off merchant family meant he was schooled when he reached the right age, and to his parents delight, he showed an aptitude for magic which marked him for great things. This could only benefit their family name, and bring increased status and wealth to the Calvani family. Aged 14, he was sent away to the finest school of the arcane arts his parents could afford, bright-eyed and eager to learn.
It was at school, a couple of years later that he met Elena. They were of an age, and the attraction between them was instant. Like many things to a 16 year old’s mind, the passion burned like an all-consuming flame, and within a year, they were making plans to elope – Elena’s family was lower nobility, and she knew that her parents would never accept a merchant’s son like Vincenzo. They set a date, the final week of terms, during which students were expected to choose the disciplines they wished to study further, rather than the generalised knowledge they had gleaned up until now.
But Elena’s family had fallen foul of the internecine wars which beset the nobility. Another noble family, one with slightly more resources, and hence more to lose, had declared vendetta on her family. Knowing the family home to be robust and secure, they determined to send a message via their most vulnerable member, Elena. It was only supposed to be a beating – murders were not uncommon amongst male children, but a woman who had just reached her majority was normally safe, but they reckoned without her magic. A chaos spell went awry, as these things do, and a blow meant to stun instead crumbled bone to dust, crushing Elena’s skull and ending her life.
Vincenzo was besides himself with grief. He tried to sink himself in drink and debauchery, but the fires of his sorrow and anger were not assuaged. Due to his status, he was now permitted at Elena’s elaborate funeral, and so he resolved to say his own goodbye later, in the privacy and silence of the graveyard. To pass the time, he sunk himself in study – he still had not chosen a discipline to specialise in. He glanced along the many books of magic, and his eye was drawn to the corner of a book, poking out from under a shelf. He could only see it from a certain angle, and he figured it had been there a long time, a theory supported by the thick layer of dust. He pulled it out, and read the cover – in an ancient dialect, but one which Vincenzo knew the basics of, he could just make out the title: A Treatise on The Reversal of the Final Barrier. It intrigued him, and he opened it, and the well-worn pages fell open to a page examining the controllable nature of the spirits of the recently deceased. A single thought burned in his mind – Elena. He knew that the practice of necromancy was only quasi-legal (and completely illegal in some parts), but the thought that he might see his beloved Elena again consumed him. He buried himself in his books. He knew he couldn’t outwardly study necromancy, but he could study death magic, which was close enough. He threw himself into research. The time that he had planned to say his respects to Elena came and went, and he stayed up the whole night, only noticing the dawn when the room grew light.
And thus his course was set. He became obsessed with the magic. Forced to spend long hours in the quiet of night, his skin grew pallid, and he became increasingly in hospitable. He stopped seeing friends – he stopped seeing everyone – and shied away from social contact, initially. Later, he realised this was too suspicious, and he forced himself to review a social life – but he found no joy in these interactions. His former friends took to calling him di Malvagio, the dark one, in jest but he thought it fitting and assumed the name as his own, in preference to the Calvani he had been born with. His parents, hearing disturbing things, threatened to cut off his funds, and then carried out the threats when he didn’t respond, but he would let nothing stand in his way now. Using death magic to hunt, and prowling the streets and surrounding hills at night, he survived, a dark, unsmiling creature by comparison to the laughing, joyful boy who left home a few years earlier. He forced himself into social situations, as a camouflage, and it was in this way he found out that the city was looking for mercenaries, including those who practiced the arcane arts. An income was an income, and in this way he’d be allowed to use the death magics he had been learning. He may even find a way to practice calling the dead, to perfect this art, so he could be with his beloved Elena once more….