From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|"Make sho' you get my good side!"|
|Real Name:||Alek Clemence|
|Known Aliases:||Crash-Dummy, Pincushion, Baron Sunday|
|Occupation:||Ghost Hunter, Demon Slayer|
|Place of Birth:||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Base of Operations:||Worldwide|
|Immortality / Shadow Magic / Sorcery|
|Polyglot / Eidetic Memory / Melee Mastery|
|Various magical artifacts / Colt .45|
Life, Death, and Rebirth
Alek Clemence was born near New Orleans, Louisiana around the mid-to-late 18th century. The son of a well off plantation owner, Alek was handsome for his time, and educated with the aid of wealth, it seemed as though he would spend his days in ease. Haitian slaves were however becoming a larger - and more vengeful - demographic, come the turn of the century, and almost in direct timing with the Haitian Slave Revolt of 1791 and the expulsion of French occupation from Saint-Domingue, Alek was kidnapped by a group of Vodou practitioners and folk priests.
The rite performed was a bloody one. His head was removed from his body, with precision that is far and away from what could be called surgical. Set upon the stump was a crude and simple replacement, akin to the head of a classic voodoo doll; plain burlap, packed with straw and cotton, stitched across the face with a burgundy "X" to mark its orientation. It was when their gory task came to completion did they invoke dark spirits, foul Loa - but not only did the reviled pagan gods hear their invocations. Something cosmic, and timeless, and sightless yet all-seeing, watched on, and humored their pleas. Alek's corpse became the thoroughfare of the dead, of a thousand spirits, and of the infinite void.
He awoke to madness and mayhem, the sight of a man's own head is enough to make him spring a half dozen feet into the air and run for the hills - and he did. Like a bat out of hell he ran screaming through the night, he didn't stop running until the moon had passed over his back and slipped beneath the horizon.
Modern Man, American Thug
The fetter of unlife hardened Alek, darkened his heart. A hundred years went by and he found himself in the 20th century, only a blink of an eye to a newly made immortal. The practitioners behind his curse were long gone - resting easy - but there he still stood, wandering the world, the stain of that Stygian entity always following a step behind him. The ebb and flow of shadow in his veins, the anger of revenge forever passed, the loss of family and friends, these things soured his soul. The effect of the dark energy coursing throughout his form had already begun to naturally make him stronger, taller, and larger; from many attempts on his own life he was already aware of his inability to die; with enough focus, he had already adeptly grasped the basics of the ebon energy. With these he promised to revenge himself upon on the living, and turned to crime.
By the 21st century, Alek was a thief and cutthroat to rival all others, vanishing into the moonlight, stealing, robbing, imparting his eternal pain unto the innocent. Soon enough, money meant nothing to him anymore, and there was little to spend it on as a wanted criminal in most countries. Alek desired the advancement of his dark magic, and sought out those who could teach, but was met time and time again with refusal - he was too avaricious, too young in heart and mind, too wild to control a power so chaotic on its own. He finally slighted the wrong person in one of his vengeful pursuits, attempting to steal from a sorcerer who had previously denied him. Knowing there was no physical punishment that Alek could not withstand, the sorcerer's hand was forced, and he cast the immortal as far back into the ages as was possible: well over 6000 years.
The Brief Annals of Time and Amendment
Alek arrives somewhere shortly before the beginning civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, and spends the majority of his time defending himself from pre-men, and simply trying to make heads and tails of where - both chronologically and geographically - he has been sent.
Within a few years, the help of his previous, modern day knowledge of historical proceedings lead him to roughly pinpoint his current time as the transitional period between the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras. Judging by the climate, and landscape, he surmises to be somewhere in what would one day become modern day Northern Bulgaria.
In time, Alek grows a following of the early nomads, using his understanding of agriculture to hasten the technological advancement that would not yet be seen in full realization by his people for another some few decades later.
Alek's tribe was attacked and destroyed, to which he returned to the ruin of after a hunt. With the loss of his people, Alek takes his bloody revenge, and in his grief heads to the early civilizations of Mesopotamia.
The image on the right was taken by anthropologists and early historians in the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Paris; a painting found in Magura Cave said to depict what later records would name, "The Black One", returning to wipe out the opposing peoples that destroyed his tribe.
Patron of War
In his worldly travels, now having spent much time in reflection, in the tutelage of old masters, and in personal training of his skills in combat and magic, Alek finds himself soon wrapped up in the politics and mythos of the Egyptian dynasties. It is here, at the archaic birthplace of many studies of math, science, and technology, that Alek begins to truly redevelop himself systemically as a man.
For his abilities, he is regarded in some regions of the golden empire as a saint of resurrection, magic, and warfare. It is here that Alek too realizes the existence of ancient demons and spirits, after battling one first-hand. He was unsuccessful in defeating this first supernatural beast, but the thought alone of a world plagued by monsters and wraiths soon led him on a personal campaign against evil that would last from then to the rest of his numberless days.
The image on the right was taken by an unknown anthropological group specializing in Egyptian history, and depicts Alek in ceremonial garb, preparing for war. This artwork is believed to date back to some time around 1200 B.C.
Right to Rule
As the Middle Age came, so too did Alek. With his now thousands of years involving combat, diplomacy, and leading, he was able to make a lord of himself under the rule of an unknown king, leading his subjects to prosper through the help of a useful disguise involving the embroidery of religious symbolism onto the "mask" he wore in the name of shame and self-flagellation.
Being a Christian himself, Alek was a pious man, and was regarded to be just, stern, and an exemplar of the traditional ideals of chivalry and virtue. This point in his life was one of his most beneficial in terms of development - spending most of his days in work of the administrative duties of nobility. Without need or capability to drink himself into a stupor, or gorge himself at banquets, Alek lived a stoic life, and was named "Alick the Dutiful."
Alek, after a handful of decades, did not wish to tarnish the name and legacy he had created by rumor of his lasting vitality, and covertly paid for his own assassination, being stabbed to death in his sleep at what most believed to be the twilight years of his life. After his burial, he returned to the world as a hedge-knight, continuing his work against the evils of legend and myth.
The image on the right is a recovered artwork depicting "Alick the Dutiful" leading his knights in an unknown siege, dating roughly between the 14th-15th century.
Closer to the modern era, the rise of spirits, demons, ghouls - and most especially in Asia - Yōkai and Jinn, grew exponentially. By the 17th century, Alek no longer had ample time to play a part in mortal history and events, but was now almost wholly consumed by his never-ending quest against the expulsion of evil.
His journey led him to Japan and China, where he made repeated trips across the two countries for its intense, numerous spiritual and mythological happenings. Aside from this, however, Alek even today regards them as some of the most beautiful countries in the world, despite its plague of beasts and monsters. His love for the land was mutual, as many locals gave him titles still used, such as "He Who Has Died 10,000 Deaths", and "Oni-Eater." Japan is also one of the few places and points in time in which Alek so brazenly displayed his often eerie appearance; quite a number of artists and tale-weavers enjoyed his odd visage, and it remains the country that has produced the most artwork depicting him.
In some niche groups, now mostly long gone or forgotten, Alek was considered a beneficial spirit - lesser to deities - but more a demon that consumed other demons, one that struck fear into the fearful.
The image on right is believed to be from the end of the Muromachi period, dating back to the late 16th century, depicting Alek being ambushed and preparing to battle a she-demon.
For the oddity of his life and being, Alek is not far removed from the natural looks of a man. His skin tone is a peachy, warm hue, often turning a drab orange-olive with enough time spent in the sun. The hair on his arms and legs are nearly translucent, suggesting that his original hair color was a light blond. Due to his regenerative ability, he has no scars or marks to speak of. Of course, the greatest natural difference is his stature; the ageless churning of abyssal energy has enhanced his size and strength, causing him to tower over men of average height, and while he is relatively lean for his size, he still remains especially muscular. Additionally, when channeling this energy, the veins visible against the surface of his skin blacken grotesquely - the primary reason as to why he is usually fully dressed down.
Most noticeably of his physical abnormalities, his head is made of a high threadcount, ashen-ocher colored burlap. Across the face - where the eyes would generally rest - sits a burgundy red, messily stitched X shape. His head, for its material, is surprisingly soft and slick to the touch; as it's filled entirely with cotton and sparse clumps of straw, it is able to be manipulated and squashed in a manner similar to a doll's. It's all but worthless to attempt damaging his head, as not only does it incur no harm to him to be damaged, it is also the quickest "body part" in terms of regeneration. It is highly flammable though, which he often counteracts by wrapping it in bandages that have been doused in flame-retardant solutions.
Even as a man lost out of time, his most natural accent is what he was born and raised with; old-world, Creole Louisianan. His voice, for his stature and appearance, is as surprising for most as it is pleasant. A relaxed, melodic cadence, sweeter than honey, almost regal and enigmatic in a way. This dulcet, inviting tone fits well with the linguistic mannerisms that come with the accent: such as "them," "they," and "there," becoming "dem," "dey'," and "dea'." "Kur" and "kruh" noises often becoming soft "gur" and "gwuh" noises. Words such as "your," "sure," and "for" abstaining from the more pronounced "er" and "or" noises with common shorthand like "yo'," "sho'," and "fo'."
However, with his excessive time spent learning and mastering countless other languages, and the lack of a physical mode of speech restricting him, Alek can speak nigh perfectly when conversing outside of English and French Creole.
As expected of such a worldly, traditional man, Alek too has many worldly, traditional ideals, holding strongly in the base virtues of loyalty, fidelity, community, and faith. Several millennia of being both a leader and a follower of numerous causes has relaxed his perspective on the concepts of authority and politics, so while he is considered a "lawful hero," there is not an ounce of hesitation in him that would stop him from acting outside of laws, rules, and orders to do what he knows is right.
With this extended experience in the ancient world, combined with the modern interpretations of morality and violence, Alek considers all men worthy of second chances and rehabilitation, but just as his free-spirited nature regarding order and governance, he equally has no qualms in ending a life - though he hasn't directly killed anyone in well over a century. Most of his enemies are usually those not of the mortal realm to begin with, and as such cannot truly die, but only be exorcised or banished.
As an immortal being, and a rarer case at that, Alek essentially fears nothing. He finds beauty in all things, the smallest stroke of good in the worst situations, the belief in the prosperity and good wishes of all peoples. For all accounts he would rather make a friend out of a man than an enemy, he is the last to hold a grudge, and even with his accomplishments, he feels no reason to boast or self-aggrandize. Countless lifetimes have enabled him to try his hand at many pursuits outside of the duties that burden him, and in his free time he enjoys writing poetry, painting, gardening, and sculpting.
Expectantly for his age, he can often be facetious, even irreverent, but in good spirit, of course. He's easy to amuse, hard to bring down, can make friends with almost anybody, and loves to revel, dance, and sing - which he does often and boisterously. However, being ageless and deathless, he has had to force himself to learn to be alone, and to lose others, and to accept loss into his heart. There have been more than a few instances of him becoming lost at sea, or trapped under immovable objects, or stuck at the bottom of some chasm. Most would go mad at the thought alone of spending a decade away from humanity in such a manner, but he has lived through this tormenting circumstance many a time, and with repetition steeled himself to the bitter realities that come with his curse.
Alek can die – he shares nearly all the same physiological weaknesses as a regular man. In instances of extreme trauma such as explosives, blows from especially strong super-beings, or destructive magic – anything that would immediately and utterly obliterate a person – will end him. On top of this, sustained, significant damage that is being received faster than he can regenerate can also kill him. Unlike a regular man, however, no matter how severe the cause of his death was – or how many pieces it leaves him in – an almost magnetic force will herd the separated parts back together, bullets will be spit from his flesh, burns will dissipate, and when his heart ultimately starts to beat once more, he will rise from the dead as he has done innumerable times.
With this knowledge, many have attempted to vaporize him, burn organs and limbs to ash, or lock away his head. Though, should too many components be missing that are required for his resurrection, in time he will simply begin to sprout a new body from his head, which grows in a sort of inky sack of pure energy that is all but indestructible to mortal and mundane design.
Astute and dedicated mages have been able to halt this process, or destroy his still-growing body time and time again, locking him in a purgatorial state. But this soon becomes too consuming a task to complete, as the longer it goes on, the quicker the process becomes, ultimately turning into a daily repetition to keep him from returning.
As a vessel of unfathomable, abyssal power, Alek has become a seemingly infinite source of this tenebrous energy. In its most raw form, he can make use of it to imbue himself with immense strength and speed, at the upwards of its capacity – or at least the capacity in which his body can physically handle before tearing apart – lifting up to hundreds of tons, moving short distances in a gloomy blur, and traveling over long distances at +100 MPH.
With the plentiful time he’s had to practice, more advanced applications have been mastered; being able to convene with both animals and the dead, see through magical illusions and perceive time and speed at varying levels which grant him inhuman reaction time, inspire pure dread and terror in those without the proper defenses, become imperceptible in darkness, and melt into shadow and reappear elsewhere in visible distance.
Voodoo and Sorcery
For his ostensibly simple and modern attitude, Alek is in fact particularly capable in old-world magic; able to invoke arcane effects through fetishes, totems, idols, wards, hexes, and other such ancient or folk mysticism. Though mostly used in his dealings with demons, ghosts, or spirits, the lesser sorcery and the extensive knowledge of magic in itself makes good use in his repertoire.
Because of his long-standing part as an integral role in the celestial and demonic, Alek is also able to perform absolution and exorcism – cleansing those of curses and magic, acting as a psychopomp and delivering souls to their respective “other side”, and banishing the unnatural to their realm.
Skills and Abilities
Several millennia of defense and combat, learning countless martial arts, and wielding thousands of different weapons – in addition to his enhanced strength, speed, and reaction time – make Alek quite possibly one of the best hand-to-hand combatants in the world. He is able to more than proficiently grapple, strike with hands, feet, elbows and knees; battle under water, on precarious footing, and in total darkness; wield spears, swords, maces, whips, and axes; if required he can even put up a serious fight while missing limbs, or his head.
Though certainly not the most studious of pupils, sheer time, exposure to cultures across the planet, and the ability to magically interpret have allowed him to learn dozens if not hundreds of languages and dialects fluently, ranging from Thai and Japanese, to Italian and German, to Swahili and Farsi. Alek even can adeptly speak in dead or dying languages, such as Latin, Old English, and Tagalog.
Because of his lack of a finite, physical mind, Alek can keep what would be a maddening and unfeasible amassment of memories, knowledge, and insights stored in a mental faculty unseen. However, similar to the enormity of an unkempt library, the immediate distance of the knowledge in question is directly correlated to the effort necessary to recall it. In a technical sense, Alek never forgets anything, but whether or not he would mentally sift long enough to find what he wants is an entirely different question.
Strengths and Resistances
Venom and Poison
Depending on the particular toxicity and strength of the venom or poison, Alek can generally heal and expel most blights of the common variety.
Due to not having the physical organs necessary to be harmed, assaults that would affect sight and sound, such as flashbangs; the lungs or respiratory system, such as smoke or caustic gas; or any other such mundane irritants and incapacitating devices, simply do nothing to Alek.
Exposure, Fatigue, and Attrition
Alek’s regeneration - negating most of the effects of lactic acid - and his lack of a need to eat or drink, allows him to survive in inhospitably cold and hot environments, and hold out in the face of extended journeys and combat.
Alek, by not breathing, cannot drown. This ironically still remains a common way to get rid of him for long periods, since he is still subject to sinking to the bottom of a body of water as he lacks the natural buoyancy of air-filled lungs; he must be actively treading water or swimming, or else he will quickly begin to sink.
The Sister Rings of Providence
Four rings; two of gold, two of silver. Each of the respective rings allow the user to manipulate fire, earth, water, and air, though this elemental control is just the same as any other magical or physical skill, and must be consistently studied and trained in to master. This mystic jewelry of unknown origin can shift to snugly fit on fingers smaller than its natural size, but cannot grow to accommodate fingers of a larger size, rendering Alek to only possibly use one at a time. However, those that could wear all four at once must - by some hidden judgement of the ring - master one before using another. Because of these restrictions, Alek doesn't tend to bother with using them unless for show, particularly situational benefit, or to train those with natural elemental ability. He primarily keeps them on his person as they are simply too valuable, and hold far too much beauty and risk to let go.
An unassumingly shaped key made of a dark stained wood. Any door the key can be slotted into will open to a separated pocket in reality, which consists of a linearly-arranged string of three medium sized rooms. These rooms can be altered internally, such as the general use of the room, the lighting fixtures, the walls and flooring, and the furniture or additions, but cannot run water, power, gas, or any other such utility that requires an outside source - they are also windowless. The exit door is the same as the entrance, but the location in which the inhabitant exits can be changed by writing onto the face of the door itself before opening it.
Repugnant Mirror of Midnight
An eldritch artifact that can perform a variety of nightmarish tasks, the most distinct of them being the ability to show whoever gazes into it the victims of their crimes, most especially murder. Those that peer over the shoulder of the user into the mirror will see nothing more than a reflection - it only works singularly on the holder. Contradictory to this guilt invoking image, the holder of the mirror is also protected from ghosts, demons, and other apparitions of ill-intent, as it can inspire almost insurmountable fear in unnatural creatures. Should the holder manage to catch both their own reflection, as well as the reflection of said spirit at the same time, they can force out the creature from the space it currently inhabits.
A scarred, heavy bell of unpolished brass, which when rung releases a haunting, baritone toll. Known in legend to be used to call wandering souls to supper, the sounding of this bell will reveal those hidden, unseen, or under cover of darkness. When bathed in moonlight, the ghostly call of the bell will additionally draw ever-darkening clouds into the sky and summon a dismal thunderstorm. Alek does well to keep this relic close to the vest, as not only does it render his own shadow-concealment useless, but also has a clear meteorological risk.
Although Alek is the product of chasmal energy, his is one separate and unlike others, and as such is still easily affected by demonic sorcery and power. Conversely, because of his nature, divine magic has double the potency against him. These two fields are the only known forces that can halt his rebirth process, or break the abyssal barrier protecting his emergent body and destroy it.
Magical lightning is one of the only arcane fields that have such a resounding impact on Alek, stunting his own regenerative and void-altering capabilities heavily. Additionally to this physical effect, he is also especially afraid of it in a base, animal sense, as it inflicts the most pain upon him - for reasons unknown.
As Alek walks among the realm of the dead, folk rites and invocations meant to guard from the entrance of apparitions can physically bar him from passing or leaving a location – though, he does possess the knowledge and skills to remove such superstitious protections with enough time, effort, and the right tools.
Connections, Hooks, and Affiliations
- Alek is certified by many religious organizations to perform cleansings, exorcisms, and destroy or safeguard artifacts of ill-omen.
- Alek maintains a personal website that was highly popular in the early 2000's known as "Crash Test Dummy", a public-awareness page in which he had recorded video logs of him dying from common accidents and injuries, including fatality stats, his first-hand recollection of it, and how to best avoid it for those unable to survive what he can.
- Alek is still popular in some sub-groups and niche crowds in Japan, with various stylized prints of him battling otherworldly monsters and Oni.
- Alek has become an unofficial Loa in smaller groups of the Vodou practice, being labeled "Baron Sunday", as a reference to Bawon Samdi, or Baron Saturday. Rather than representing death, he is an alternate representation of the oscillation of life from death, birth, and the transitory period between dawn and dusk. His given symbols are an hourglass turned on its side, a bird's nest, and the ash of a funeral pyre.
- Alek, or at the very least, his iconic head and X-marked face, is a recurrence that can be connected in small pieces scattered all throughout history; he can be found in lost artwork, crumbling busts, referenced in decaying manuscripts and fables - those bold enough to venture to places hidden and treacherous may even find his name personally scrawled along ageless stone, left unknown eras back as a humorous and congratulatory gesture from him to other adventurers.
- Alek is regarded in various demon lore as an undiscriminating protectorate of man, an eternal enemy of the supernatural, and is considered "on sight" for many lesser imps and ghouls. Even in this case, however, many beings of divinity prefer not to stick around him for his nature, and some even outright detest him.
- Alek has amassed an extremely large sum of wealth over the span of his life, and as such personally funds historical projects, ecological conservation and restoration efforts, humanitarian aids, and museums. Most notably, he is the founder and owner of a school known as the "New Masters", a vocational facility that teaches juvenile criminals both super and non-super how to direct their behavior or untamed abilities into livable skills, trades, and future work positions. The New Masters has a program with juvenile detention centers in order to help improve delinquent tendencies and display good faith efforts to lower sentencing and clear records.
- Alek runs a generally religiously steeped IRC chat named "The One Creed", which is a global spanning, partially underground community of fellow exorcists, demon slayers, and witch hunters that find commonality even in differing faiths by the united goal to cleanse evil from the world.