“Sandon!” the teacher’s harsh voice called out. “Boy, did you not study the Libram of Acerites as you were directed?”
The tall scholar swallowed visibly. “But, Master Godnall, Acerites doesn’t make any sense! He claims that the brain exists solely to cool the blood, claiming the liver is seat of emotion! It clearly contrad…”
“Insolent puppy! You will not utter another word of your heretical theories in my classroom! I have been more than patient with your fanciful notions! Don’t think for one minute that I have overlooked your studies of the heretic Jerotian's writings and even that blasphemous Vocran text! Get out and take your foolishness with you!”
As Sandon strode angrily from the classroom, the young man silently swore that someday he would eclipse all of them, all those so-called professors and narrow-minded mages who chained themselves to outdated theories and ancient philosophies. Someday, all would know and honor the name of Sandon Wiesfather!
The Student of the Forbidden
Unable to accept the authority of his intellectual inferiors, the gifted student Sandon Weisfather withdrew from the Imperial University in frustration. To his family’s displeasure, money meant for his tuition instead secured his apprenticeship with Magister Goelcull, a secretive magus known for his mastery of plant and animal lore, but whose necromantic pursuits were not even suspected by most.
Finally matched with a master his intellectual equal, Sandon learned quickly. Solitary by nature, he found company in a flock of ravens he first tamed, then bound as his familiar creaures. Over the next few years, he learned secrets of magic and medicine that indeed eclipsed the lore of the University's scholars.
As his knowledge grew, Sandon became increasingly interested in studies not authorized under the conservative regime of the Hegemon. Although Magister Goelcull objected, Sandon’s arcane studies took the pair far beyond society’s accepted limits. The company of grave robbers and sinister necromancers became commonplace within the pair's securely-shuttered workroom. Stolen cadavers allowed them to discover secrets of anatomy and necromancy few others even suspected. Increasingly arrogant, Sandon refused to allow superstition or others' notions of decency to limit him.
“Magister Dorr Goelcull, you are hereby arrested in the name of the Hegemon! You are charged with Heresy, False Teaching, Traffic with Spirits, Unlawful Necromancy, and the Despoiling of Graves! You will be put to the Question by the Hegemon’s Holy Inquisition. I strongly suggest that you confess to all charges before you are questioned: You may thus escape torture before your execution. As an earnest of your true repentance, I would like you to now tell us the location of your apprentice, one Sandon Weisfather.”
Fleeing the lands of the Hegemony inches ahead of the Hegemonic Inquisition’s soldiers, Sandon was crushed when his teacher fell into their clutches. A wanted fugitive, he fled with little more than the clothing on his back and his familiar ravens. He had taught them well; their sharp eyes let him avoid the soldiers hunting for the heretical necromancer.
As he fled, Sandon left his name behind, adopting the pseudonym “Doctor Mirabilis”. His harrowing escape gave him ample time to reflect on his hubris, the arrogance that had doomed his friend and teacher. He fled to the Kingdoms of the Free Cities, there to live with a bachelor brother, the only relation to keep ties with him after he left the university.
In the Free Cities, he began anew, no longer a student, but now a master scholar. It did not take long for “Doctor Mirabilis” to build a reputation, but he found that students did not seek him out, nor could he find a noble patron to sponsor him. His colleagues honored his unsettling necromantic knowledge, but the rumors of his sinister past haunted him.
The “Resurrection Man”
Upon their arrival at the midnight-dark cemetary, the three men wasted no time. Two set to digging, while the third crooned softly to the dark birds roosting in the churchyard’s ancient yews. Finishing his incantation, the tall man kept careful watch as his minions efficiently opened a fresh grave. Together, the three of them drew forth the casket within; throwing it open, the leader risked summoning a small, flickering ball of pale light.
“As you can see,” he said, pointing to the corpse’s crossed hands, “the Bishop’s fingernails clearly reveal signs of poisoning. I should prefer that he be our guest tonight. Perhaps he has more to share with us.”
Refusing to depend on his brother’s charity, the good doctor soon turned to a trade he had already learned well: grave robbery. He recruited unscupulous laborers and began to supply local scholars with cadavers for their researches. It did not take long for him to become the preeminent provider in his specialized market. More prudent than he was as a student, he carefully avoids being implicated in grave robbery. As far as his clients are concerned, Dr. Mirabilis acquires bodies through legitimate means, paying the poor and improvident for the corpses of deceased family members. His home in the Market Quarter supports this illusion.
The studious doctor continues his researches when he can, seeking answers to the mysteries of life and death.
Sometimes, a particular death catches his interest. He directs his men to secretly disinter the deceased, so that he may further investigate theremains. The information he unearths is passed on to trusted acquaintances in positions of authority. Several murderers have found the Watch on their trail unexpectedly because of the Doctor’s intervention. He is especially alert to signs of disease, and has quietly prevented several outbreaks by rooting them out at the source. Doctor Mirabilis can be quite ruthless in this; he has arranged the deaths of men who resisted his efforts in the past. Quoth the good doctor, “Better that a few should die, than plague should strike the city.”
Doctor Mirabilis has learned to be reconciled with his dire reputation, but he doesn’t sleep well. At night, he paces restlessly, pondering how far he has fallen from his idealistic youth. As the restless hours pass, he converses with his supernaturally-wise familiars, discussing issues of life and death, love and loss.
Once in a while, one of the quarter's poor folk is so desperate for treatment of an injury or illness that they risk visiting the ominous manse of the sinister necromancer. With the obscure lore that Mirabilis has mastered, he can often help. Drawing on his mastery of the healing arts, he sets things right.
Those are the nights when he can sleep.
The Gentle Scholar of Death
Tall and gaunt, Doctor Mirabilis can be seen wandering the market or haunting the bookstores of the city. His coat is cut of the finest wool, and matches his carefully maintained hat well. Perhaps his attire is a few years out of style. That is not so very uncommon among scholars of his generation, is it?
His sad, dark eyes and pale skin testify to many nights spent in study or restless pacing and reflection; his hands bear the calluses and scars common to a researcher and Doctor of Natural Magics. When he pores over the ancient texts of his profession, he wears a fine pair of pince-nez, but at other times the glasses are stored in his pocket.
The doctor’s garb is plain and sober, but on his right hand, he wears one piece of jewelry. This ring, bearing the signet of his family, is the legacy of his brother, who passed away soon after Doctor Mirabilis began to share his home. Never reconciled to his brother’s unfortunate suicide, Doctor Mirabilis recoils from any discussion of the heavy memento.