Anyone remember when I’d try and throw bits and pieces of my non-editorial writing up here? Yeah, neither do I because most of it was crap. (I’m a really hard critic of myself, you don’t want to know what I’ve got to say about my earliest attempts…) So, I’ve been doing some on-the-side writing for my Guild Wars 2 characters. Y’know, finalizing backstories, getting histories and dates in the right places and making the character feel as alive as possible. I’ve done up something that I’m fairly proud of, so why not throw it out here?
You may not get the full effect if you’re not too terribly familiar with Guild Wars lore, but it’s about a man gone mad, so that’s always fun right? Enjoy!
A noble of Ascalonian blood, Jacob is the only living member of House Strecker. Having lost his parents at a young age, Jacob was primarily raised by his grandfather James. The death of his parents instilled Jacob with a deep fear of death and losing James to a vicious sickness only mortified him further.
He was said to have been blessed by Dwayna as a child, but after coming to the conclusion that the goddess of life turned her back on his family, Jacob began to fervently worship Grenth. At first, it was a prayer to Grenth before he went to sleep or went out for his daily errands. Then, he began to construct miniature shrines to the god of death, locking them away in his late grandfather’s study. Eventually, Jacob’s reverence began to border on fanaticism and he took up necromancy, keeping it secret in order to maintain his status among the nobility.
Much like Jacob’s worship, his dabbles in necromancy started innocently enough. At first, he would raise a tiny, unstable abomination for the sake of entertainment or company. Then, a more ‘sentient’ creature, capable of obeying simple orders such as sending it off to kill pests or keeping an eye on the district. Eventually, Jacob realized that simple practice of the craft wasn’t enough. He wasn’t getting stronger and he was simply wasting time on beginner-level parlor tricks. Jacob, ever paranoid, knew that he needed to please Grenth and please Him quickly.
In the dead of night, Jacob took his first human life. A drunk old beggar, sleeping fitfully near the statue of Grenth. Jacob slit the man’s throat and drug his lifeless body before the god of death’s towering presence. It was a perfect murder in both execution and poetic beauty. Jacob was never known for being terribly religious if the crime was considered a ritualistic sacrifice. Otherwise, it would be considered a simple quarrel among the street folk that had gone too far. Nobody would pay any mind to the real murderer.
Then the nightmares came. For weeks after his first ‘offering’ to Grenth, Jacob couldn’t sleep. A more rational person would attribute this to guilt or paranoia, but to Jacob it was a sign. Grenth, Jacob reasoned, was pleased… but he wanted more. The nightmares were a sign of Grenth’s annoyance that His ‘faithful servant’ wasn’t making as many offers as he should have been. Another old man was killed by Jacob’s hand, yet the nightmares worsened. Grenth, at least in Jacob’s mind, found these two killings too elaborate. Grenth was a simple god and wanted simple offerings, not something veiled with some elaborate poetic meaning.
The people of Divinity’s Reach had began to notice Jacob. He grew pale and thin, bags formed under his eyes and his hair was unkempt. Jacob had began to notice them as well. Whereas they meant well, thinking he was merely ill or under stress, he saw them as threats. The first two killings took place in plain clothes, with his face uncovered. They knew, or so he thought.
Jacob locked himself in his home for some time. He was broken. The nightmares continued to grow in frequency and severity. In Jacob’s personal absence, people continued to die. Oftentimes, the bodies were never found. Jacob’s minions, which grew more and more complex, carried out his sacrifices in his absence, throwing the corpses into gutters or eating the meat and hiding the bones.
Jacob stepped out of his house, having been a recluse for two years. He was still unhealthily thin and pale, but the bags under his eyes disappeared and he often had a smile on his face. Fellow nobles and a few choice commoners welcomed “Mister Strecker” back. He picked up his grandfather’s charities and even helped to finance an orphanage, as was James’s last wish. For the first time since James’ passing, Jacob was himself again.
But, of course, just because Jacob was normal in the eyes of the people didn’t mean he truly changed. Grenth usually frowned upon illusions, be they magical or simply social, but Jacob genuinely believed he was doing the right thing. He was appeasing the god of death and keeping his responsibilities as one of the nobility. Grenth’s faithful servant couldn’t be caught, or the sacrifices would stop. In Jacob’s twisted mind, this meant everyone would suffer. Killing under a dark moon, covered in a shroud of chill and shadows would keep Jacob safe. Socializing and playing politics or finances during the day would keep suspicion down.
Jacob Strecker was dead and in his place was a twisted, broken shell of what once was.