From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
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 destiny of battling evil and doing good. His goal is not only to teach them, but to corrupt them, making them into future supervillains or anti-heroes who are only out for revenge.
Del'rocchio has collected a wide range of powers and abilities since he was first enslaved by Ballum.
Although he could once command the forces of fire with his will alone, these powers were granted to him by the demon god under whom he served. When Ballum's power was consumed by his pupil Gorgias, these powers were taken from him.
Del'rocchio's affinity to Darkness, the master who he claims, allows him to control the forces of darkness as if they part of an entity unto themselves. He can shape shadows, suffocate the day with night, drown all light in an area, and coalesce fear into a living thing to both paralyze and kill.
As a necromancer, Death is Del'rocchio's plaything, and his most often used tool. Del'rocchio can create vast armies from the bodies of the dead, bring the dead back to life, consume or stifle the life energies of others, cause inorganic and organic matter to decay at frightening rates, and command ghosts and the undead. Most importantly, he has made himself immune to death, which has allowed him to return to life time and time again, despite the fact that he has been killed multiple times.
Del'rocchio has learned how to weave fate to do his bidding. He is able to make binding promises using this fate magic, allowing fate itself to take his revenge for him. His power over fate has even allowed him a limited ability to reshape the past, which has allowed him to alter the destinies of heroes and villains alike.
Enmatum 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.
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 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 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 twice as many children.
When Ballum came for him, Enmatum hid himself, using his slaves and children to keep Ballum distracted as he fled. Ballum slowly destroyed everything he had earned. 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. Ballum gave him the name Del'rocchio, and the name stuck.
Betraying the Master
Del'rocchio's travels took him to Mycenae, where he met a young adept, a descendant of the long-forgotten land of Mu. He pleaded with Ballum to allow him to take the young mage 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 latent 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 the Pit, and then he died, certain that he would be heading there himself.
While he was dead, Del'rocchio saw himself falling endlessly into an gaping chasm. It was there that he was first contacted by the entity that he now calls alternately Darkness and the End of All Things. 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 time with marks on his hands and feet that demonstrated his half-undead state.
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 had 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.
A eunuch concubine of Del'rocchio 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 over a 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 a Black Devil, a reference to Del'rocchio and his dark skin.
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 magical wards promised to keep him locked in his tomb for all eternity.
The Temple of the Fang
Obviously, the wards did not work for long. The demonic goddess Celano sent one of her succubi to corrupt the people of the small Kazakh town where the church lay hidden. They burned the church down and tore apart the wards that contained Del'rocchio's body. Celano used her power to place his soul in the body of a boy. The boy's soul was consumed, and Del'rocchio used his death magic to destroy the town, creating a small undead army out of the bodies of the townspeople.
Celano offered him a deal, claiming that his goals and her own were not all that different. She was a child of Darkness, trapped in the Void, and longed to enter the world. To do so, she would use the seed of many men to create a male succubus, one who, by his actions, would open the doors to this reality and allow her to enter. Del'rocchio's own goals involved the corruption of the innocent, and he readily agreed to an alliance between himself and the demonic goddess.
Shortly thereafter, Del'rocchio saw a vision that led him to an ancient temple, hidden beneath the earth for millions of years. The temple was built by the followers of Lekl'kuli, a snake god of darkness, death, and blood. Del'rocchio sought out the temple for fourteen years. During that time, Del'rocchio made his home in the Rogue Isles. Any time that he did not spend deep in study, he spent working with the locals, becoming notorious and well-known for his dark powers. He earned the sobriquet Grandfather Bones, who went to him for magical help. Many of the locals believe that he is a powerful bokor, although there are others who believe that he is an avatar of Baron Samedi himself.
The search finally took him to Cap au Diable, to a long-lost temple built by the Children of Enos, unknown even to the Circle of Thorns. It was there that Del'rocchio uncovered the final piece to the puzzle that would allow him to unlock the wards, granting him access to the Temple of the Fang. He discovered the Temple in ruins, but untouched by human hands. It is there that he would continue his work: to bring Darkness itself into the world, destroying the universe to become a god in the new dark universe that the End of All Things will bring into being.
As his power continued to grow, Del'rocchio's affinity toward the Temple of the Fang continued to grow. After channeling the power of the temple to bring an extraterrestrial ally, Inquisitor Xezz, back from the dead, he learned that the arcane circle in the middle of the temple served as a sort of Well of Souls for the most powerful of the ancient ones' warrior-kings. He set to work consuming the power of one of these kings for his own use outside of the temple. The ritual succeeded, granting Del'rocchio the form of an ancient one and the powers of one of their darkest warrior-kings. The soul of this dead warrior screams out from the deepest regions of Del'rocchio's mind, but so far he has successfully kept it subdued by the strength of his own power, which he must continually replenish by revisiting the Well.
Del'rocchio's power over the Temple of the Fang hinges over a single artifact that has made him nearly invulnerable outside of the Temple and omnipotent within it. The artifact lay hidden in the deepest reaches of the Temple, areas now closed off even to him. Its true form is a shard of Lekl'kuli itself: a glowing, venomous cobra-like serpent with one large black eye that serves as a tiny window into the eternal Darkness. Knowing that there would be no safe place to put such a powerful item, Del'rocchio opened his own chest and coiled the serpent around his heart. The only way to remove it is to tear out Del'rocchio's heart, a feat that, given the extent of his current power, promises to be almost entirely impossible.
Over the millennia, Del'rocchio has had many beings--demons, undead, supervillains, aliens, gods--either working for him or with him. Of these, the closest to him and the most dangerous are the six permanent members of his undead entourage.
John "Jack" Langley was born in Lancaster, England in 1802. He was the son of a clerk working under the owner of a merchant vessel in charge of transporting goods to and from the Americas. The War of 1812 saw his father lose his job and his family turned out into the streets. Jack went to London to find work in a small factory. In 1827 he contracted pneumonia. He survived, but his lungs never properly healed, and his regular asthma attacks left him unable to find work. He spent his days as a vagrant, earning just enough to eat and keep himself drunk enough to avoid drowning himself in the nearest river.
His destiny changed when a book was literally dropped into his lap. A dark, cloaked man who seemed to be running from something stumbled into an alleyway where he had been sleeping one night. His hands could barely hold the large tome he had been carrying, and he dropped it near where Jack had been sleeping. The cloaked man disappeared, never to be seen again. Jack, curious by nature, opened the book and discovered that he now had the power to command the dead.
Jack Langley became a force to be reckoned with in the occult world of Great Britain. But Jack was greedy to obtain the wealth and power that he felt he deserved. To obtain more power, he knew he needed more books. To this end, he sought out powerful witches and magi, killing them to steal their power and their ancient tomes and books of shadows. He was an angry man, and he turned this rage on himself. Hating his own lungs for the trouble they had caused him, he tore them out of himself, changing his body so that he no longer had a need for breath. Little by little, he turned himself into one of the undead, a lich, believing himself to be the pinnacle of human existence.
Then he hatched a new plan. He would begin with the British Isles, cleansing it of human life, creating a perfect nation of the undead, which he would then turn on the world, searing life from it to create a New Eden for the walking dead. He learned how to perfect alchemical recipes and herbal concoctions to create an airborne disease that would purge life from the world. But he was not careful in his search for knowledge. A group of powerful Roma mystics caught up to him and ended all of his plans, binding his soul to a stone, forever cursed to watch the world and powerless to affect it.
Del'rocchio first heard Jack's story from a novitiate at the Scholomance. After leaving the school of magic, Del'rocchio sought out the stone that kept Jack's soul. He released Jack from his imprisonment, with the caveat that he would be released only to serve him. Tired of existing without purpose or power, Jack preferred to live as a servant. He begrudgingly accepted Del'rocchio's offer and now serves one of Del'rocchio's most powerful minions.
When Del'rocchio was assassinated in the mid-1950s, Jack enjoyed a limited freedom in a discorporated state. Seeking a way to rid himself of the chains that bound him to Del'rocchio, he found a descendant of his bloodline who he seduced in her dreams, appearing to her as a handsome gallant. In her sleep, he used his magics to grant himself temporary materiality, long enough to impregnate her with his unholy seed. The poor woman aged seventy years over the course of her pregnancy, and died as she gave birth to a beautiful boy.
The servants of the family household firmly believed that the young child, Christian Langley by name, was a demon. Jack paid them no mind. He began to work on the child's mind, whittling at it until the time was right for him to subjugate it and make Christian's body his own. That time never arrived. Christian became insane, and in his desperation, he took an axe from his grandfather's medieval weapons collection and struck at everything that his befuddled mind could consider a threat to his soul: his entire family. Covered in the blood of everyone who had ever loved him, the servants of the household mobbed him, tearing his body apart with cleavers and pitchforks, trapping what was left of him in the cellar, then fleeing the cursed home.
Del'rocchio learned of what had transpired in his absence when he found Jack's ephemeral form trapped in the cellar with the mutilated, undead body of his son. He took pity on the boy and reformed his body into that of one of his most loyal soldiers, a grave knight. Then he took Jack's soul and bound it to his son's, cursing him to be banished into the Void when his son is gone from this world.
Archon Xevex served the Shadow Crescent faithfully until he fell in battle at the hands of a group of Freakshow. When Del'rocchio needed a new grave knight to add to his ranks, Xevex's commanding officer dutifully granted Archon Xevex the "opportunity" to serve his ally as one of the undead. Whether he is glad to serve is uncertain. What is certain is that Archon Xevex does very little of anything; he never complains, and he rarely talks at all.
Vivian Matthews was a poor girl, living in St. Martial with her criminal father. She had to make her own way in the world when her father was off doing whatever work it was that he did for the Family. Eventually, Vivian just ran away and never came back. She moved around from place to place, finding work wherever she could. She got a short-lived job as a dancer at the Golden Giza before being tossed out for pocketing her tips without declaring them. Left to her own devices, she did what she could; prostitution and thieving were not beneath her.
All of this changed when she caught sight of a hooded man carrying something he was holding as if it had value. She decided that if it had value to him, she should be able to find someone else it had value to too, someone who'd pay her for it. She snatched the satchel the man was carrying it and ran off. She was upset to discover it was nothing more than a bloody hand. And more upset to discover that, moments after, she would be run over by a truck whose driver had suddenly fallen asleep at the wheel.
The man who she had stolen from was Del'rocchio, and Del'rocchio had bound her to die and to his service. She is now one of his zombie horde, destined to die and be brought back until Del'rocchio feels that she has paid for the crime of stealing from the meticulous necromancer.
Marcus Kaaster was born to a drunk mother in Port Oakes. His father was a pervert and a drug addict who routinely beat his mother and raped him. Marcus was twelve when he took a crowbar to his father's head and ran away from home. On the streets, he joined a group of boys who were led by Ricky, a young man in his twenties who hired out his "boys" for sex. When Marcus was fifteen he was hired by a man from whom he contracted HIV. Ricky made sure that the "client" wouldn't infect any of his other boys by putting a bullet in the man's head, then he sent Marcus to Mercy Island, away from his territory.
Marcus continued doing what he knew best in Mercy, selling his body for just enough food to eat and occasional shelter. It was there that he met Theo Tamsin. The two boys fell in love with each other as Theo began his music career. Theo's latent electrical powers had caught Del'rocchio's attention, and the necromancer took Theo on as his pupil. It wasn't long before Theo's fear of Del'rocchio caused him to leave his tutelage and focus entirely on Marcus and his budding musical career. Over time, even as his disease began to worsen, he abandoned his line of work and took to supporting Theo wherever his music took them.
When Theo's family discovered where he was, his older sister Faline came to search for him. Partly through Del'rocchio's manipulations, Faline was killed and turned into a vampire. In death, Faline lost not only her soul but her mind. Her insanity led her to seek Theo out and turn him. When Theo didn't want to be turned into a vampire, she concluded that it was because of his feelings for Marcus. She snapped Marcus's neck, ending their relationship. With Del'rocchio's help, Theo killed Faline. Then Del'rocchio showed him the means by which he could go about bringing Marcus back from the dead. Heartbroken and desperate, Theo accepted and began a macabre ritual that would tear apart his soul. Theo succeeded, at the cost of his innocence, at bringing Marcus back as one of the undead. Theo was led to believe that the ritual had failed, and he left the Rogue Isles disgusted with himself and everything he had done.
Marcus is now one of Del'rocchio's zombies. He remembers almost nothing about his previous life, except for the occasional glimmer of emotion that causes him intense pain. Del'rocchio also brought back Faline, who awaits her opportunity to use Marcus to find Theo and turn him so that they can live out their immortal unlives together.
- For more information, see Jace Damiani.
Jace Damiani was born and raised in Albion, Oklahoma. Upon running away from home, Jace was captured and put to work as a slave in the Rogue Isles. He managed to escape his captors, but wound up in the hands of the RIP, who left him to bleed out in a gutter on Mercy Island. Del'rocchio approached the dying boy and asked him what he would do to save himself from death. Jace said, "Anything." And so Del'rocchio turned Jace into one of his zombies.
Through Del'rocchio, Jace met the helf-demon Trinn. Trinn became infatuated with the young zombie, touching him in ways that no one in their right mind would ever approach an undead monster. Trinn demanded that Del'rocchio give Jace to him. In return, Del'rocchio asked for Trinn's loyalty and respect. Trinn gave it quickly. By using the power of the Pillar of Flame and Ice hidden away in the Temple of the Fang, Del'rocchio was able to turn back time, bring Jace back to life, albeit without his memories.
Jace is no longer one of Del'rocchio's minions, but the necromancer continues to keep a close eye on the boy. If Trinn ever slips up, Jace will return to his former service.
"Death? I am Death!"
"Could we put an end to the melodrama? I'm already a believer."
"In the name of Darkness! You've put barbecue sauce all over the resurrection circle!"
"I believe this inscription means 'Blood of the Innocent.' As to what to do with the Blood of the Innocent I cannot say. This squiggly thing that passes for an arcane glyph confounds me."
"If he ever returns, I will sear his flesh, drag his charred body to the Well, and feed his soul to the Darkness."
"Thank you for giving me your name. You've given me everything I need to bind you for eternity."
"Confound that hellish fish woman!"
"In my day, we bartered women as if they were cattle, so you'll forgive me if I don't entirely subscribe to your feminist sensibilities."
"Excellently. As you can see from my head, which, as Trinn helpfully pointed out, is on fire."
"How good of you to notice. Get me a cup of water, will you?"
"Are you done? You've made quite a mess of this place."
"It seems I was a bit distracted. I have not come into a full equilibrium with my new powers. And... I was pondering evil squirrels."
"If you wish, you may use our infirmary to writhe in pain. But do not do it in the temple; I have already had to clean it once today."
- Del'rocchio was not alive during the time of the Roman Empire, nor was he around for most of the Dark Ages. He will often refer to Rome as a quaint farm town he once visited on a whim, finding nothing of interest there.
- Del'rocchio seems to accept any name that is chosen for him. Few people refer to him as Del'rocchio. Most call him "Bones," but he has voiced very little complaint to being called "Gramps," "Old Man," or even "Lover Boy."
- Although Del'rocchio is about six thousand years old, he continually asserts that he feels like a young man and would prefer to be thought of as one. He has even tried to inject more common, "hip" language into his speech, but it sounds very strange and unnatural.
- Because of his dark skin tone, Del'rocchio is often identified as of either Black or Hispanic descendant. He was once addressed by a magical dummy as a "Moor," which Del'rocchio claimed was the most accurate description of his race that he had gotten in almost one thousand years.
- Del'rocchio often uses words of endearment when speaking with women. He will nevertheless claim that he is not a sexist, as he is beyond such trivialities.
- Although his sexual orientation has been questioned, Del'rocchio has not confirmed or rejected any of the rumors that float about. What we do know, though, is that he was married once, and he has had both female and eunuch concubines. Additionally, he seems to prefer the company of men to the "prattling of women."
- Del'rocchio/Grandfather Bones were not originally the same character. Del'rocchio was once a demon mentor to SparkRocker, while Grandfather Bones served as SparkRocker's benevolent, if laconic, mentor in an alternate universe.