The Cost of Magic
Del’rocchio, known by many as Grandfather Bones, is a necromancer raised at the very beginnings of pre-history. He has a long history, serving various masters throughout time who have given him a panoply of dark powers, making him a very dangerous villain, despite his simple appearance.
Intelligent, devious, and Machiavellian in every respect, to say that Del’rocchio is dangerous is an understatement. He is charming, well-spoken, and arrogant, and although his words intend to be disarming, it is difficult to avoid feeling a sense of trepidation while around him. Del’rocchio is a master truth-twister and a sophist. The compassion and empathy that he is capable of showing is a mask, hiding the cold, calculating mastermind underneath. He never lends a hand without gaining something by it. Del’rocchio’s patience is legendary. He is slow to anger, and he prefers to stay quiet than to act erroneously.
But under the facade of the old, wise, patient man lies a terrified, angry child who wants to pay the world back for what he suffered while he was young. He never gives anything without asking for something greater in return, and his power to bind fate to any promise allows him to repay anyone who crosses him with much worse than any mortal hand could offer in retribution. Del’rocchio’s genius comes from his understanding of the human condition. He modifies all of his speech to cater to the sensibilities and desires of the person he is trying to seduce. His deepest thoughts are unknown to all, and the Darkness that stirs inside him keeps those thoughts hidden without any effort on his part.
Del’rocchio has a tendency to take on pupils from time to time. These are usually innocent children with special powers or abilities to whom fate has assigned a powerful destiny.
Enmatum was once an Elamite slave born in what is now Susa, Iran. He was only six years old when his parents and he and his siblings were taken into slavery. He was put to work cutting wheat in the home of a priest with a very large family and a great expanse of land. He spent much of his childhood being beaten and abused, and he had little hope that his fortunes would change. As he grew, he began to resent both the priest who he served and the mages from a far off land called “Atlantis” who would deal with him.
When he reached the age of thirteen, in the blinding heat of summer, Enmatum fell to the ground ready to die of dehydration and heat exhaustion. He did die, and he saw a fiery figure in front of him, who told Enmatum that if he served him, he would receive power and wealth beyond his wildest dreams. He was returned to full life, now bound to the demon Ballum, a god of wrath and destruction.
One of his first actions was slitting the throat of his master and ordering his once fellow slaves to kill every single one of his dead master’s children, leaving only the women, who they each took as their own wives. Enmatum forgot his promise, used his powers to sow fear in all the land of Susa, and had eight wives and four times as many children.
When Ballum came for him, Enmatum refused to serve Ballum any further. In return for his disobedience, Ballum slowly destroyed everything he had earned, killing his children and setting everything he owned aflame. When he found him, Ballum threatened to consume his soul if Enmatum ever tried to escape him again. Enmatum served Ballum faithfully for the next hundred years, having been made immortal by Ballum’s power. It was at this point that Enmatum took on a variety of different names, becoming something of nightmarish legend in his once cherished homeland.
Del’rocchio travels took him to Mycenae, where he met a young adept, a mage and descendant of the long-forgotten land of Atlantis. Del’rocchio pleaded with Ballum to allow him to take the young mage, Gorgias, as an apprentice. Ballum conceded, and Del’rocchio took the young Gorgias under his wing, teaching him forbidden magical arts and demonic rituals.
Del’rocchio began to hatch a plan to escape Ballum. His pupil Gorgias became his confidant, and together they found Ballum’s weakness. Gorgias’s talents allowed them to bind and murder Ballum, releasing Del’rocchio from his servitude. But Gorgias then betrayed Del’rocchio, killing him and absorbing Ballum’s power. Del’rocchio’s final action was to banish Gorgias into Hell itself. Then he died, certain that he would be heading there himself.
During his short—and first—death, Del’rocchio saw himself falling endlessly into an gaping chasm. It was there that he was first contacted by the entity that he came to know as Choronzon. He felt that he was being called to serve a greater being than had ever before been known, and that this being would make him a god if he did its will. Del’rocchio was brought back into the world again, this bound to something far more powerful than a mere demon.
Del’rocchio spent much of the time that he was alive doing as he was told to do, through visions and divination. He used his mastery over fate and death to summon undead armies and to help bring down great empires. He became known as the Destroyer of Nations and the Corrupter of Souls. He wreaked havoc and chaos until an Akkadian army brought down his reign of terror and incinerated him while he still lived on a ceremonial pyre. His bones were scattered and buried in the hope that he would never return.
The Crusades and the Islamic Conquest of Europe
Del’rocchio stayed dead for nearly three thousand years. During the Crusades, a group of Templar knights uncovered a series of old manuscripts which detailed the location of five tombs, which were said to contain the body of a great and powerful priest. The knights sought that power, which they believed would help them conquer the Holy Land. When they disinterred the bones, the body of Del’rocchio reformed into an undead skeleton. He took the flesh of the knights as his own, and he traveled toward his homeland, which was now a part of the Arab Empire. Del’rocchio joined the war against Christianity and continued to use his magic to aid in the Islamic conquest of North Africa and later Europe. He was, at this time, well known across the Empire as Al Sahir.
A eunuch concubine of Del’rocchio’s was the first to discover his real agenda. He informed the local Emir, who promptly had Del’rocchio beheaded before he could aid in the Islamic conquest of France and the British Isles. Although Del’rocchio was dead, his head buried under a great rock at Gibraltar, his rage survived him. The Arab Empire was swiftly driven back, and Spain was lost to the Christians.
World War II and the Cold War
It would be another thousand years before Nazi Germany uncovered Del’rocchio’s head. General Francisco Franco offered the head to the German government as a show of good will. It was then handed over to the Thule Society, who used their own magic to bring the head back to life. Del’rocchio reformed his body yet again, and began his work. He learned of the Scholomance, a school of black magic deep in the mountains of Romania, south of the city of Hermannstadt. With the help of the Thule Society, Del’rocchio took over the school, teaching necromantic magic to the highest ranking mages in the service of Nazi Germany. In time, Del’rocchio became an advisor to the Third Reich, using his magic to aid Germany in its campaigns throughout Europe. The Scholomance had earned a reputation as being run by the Devil, a reference to Del’rocchio.
Although Del’rocchio was still calling himself by his Arabic-given name at this time, it was here that he was first named “Del’rocchio” by some of his fellow Italian mages.
It was not long before Adolf Hitler’s own successes got the better of him. In his arrogance, he failed to listen to his advisers, including Del’rocchio, all of whom warned that invading the Soviet Union would lead to his defeat. When Del’rocchio saw that the German army was headed into the Ural Mountains, he took all of his materials and a handful of pupils, and fled Europe. He returned to his homeland again, now a land called Iran.
Del’rocchio did not stay long in Iran. He had found it too much changed by democracy. He did, however, “inspire” Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, then Prime Minister of Iran, to increase his autocratic control over the nation. He hoped that, by doing so, Iran would return to the Holy Empire that it had once been. Soon after, he went to the Soviet Union, and began to work on loosening the threads that bound Josef Stalin’s mind. His efforts had not gone unnoticed. In the final years of Stalin’s rule, the CIA sent five separate agents to put a bullet in Del’rocchio’s head. Four of them were quickly executed, but one of them succeeded, dying shortly after massive hemorrhaging as maggots ate through his internal organs and crawled out of every orifice in his body.
Del’rocchio’s body was interred under a small church in Kazakhstan. Many mages promised to keep him locked in his tomb for all eternity.
The presence of Del’rocchio’s body began to corrupt the people of the small Kazakh town where the church lay hidden. Eventually, they turned against the mages guarding Del’rocchio’s tomb, tearing them limb from limb. They burned the church down and broke down the wards that kept Del’rocchio’s from being resurrected.