The tale of the alchemist, Alexander Simond, is one of pain, suffering and irreparable corruption. After the death of his young wife, Yasinia, Alexander became obsessed with disease and its origins. He began to study more magical properties of death and decay and soon became a warlock of disturbing talents. After the “accidental” death of a young research assistant, Alexander Simond fled Everling for parts unknown. Later stories of several farms and small villages being devastated by a particularly malicious illness start to trickle into the village. Crops are found completely withered while livestock lay rotting in fields. A squadron of Everling militiamen are sent out into the countryside to investigate, though only one man returns.
Despite being in a state of complete panic as his insides are slowly melting, he speaks of encountering a single man whose mere touch caused any living thing to whither and die. His pale skin was in stark contrast to the flowing black robe that covered his body. In his hand he held a wicked dagger that caused flesh to sear and turn to ash when it hit its mark. Effortlessly, he slew the militiamen by raining swarms of locusts upon them to first break their ranks, and then blasted them with a sickening poison that caused them to collapse into convulsive fits before finally succumbing to death. With the village on the verge of panic, the town’s mayor declared a large bounty for the death of this harbinger of plagues.
Several leave, none return. Tales of death and decay are erratic though one day they finally stop. A week goes by and nothing is heard. Then one day, a man named Ritter Shortshank returns with an urn full of ashes and the hilt of a broken dagger. He claims to have slain the warlock and destroyed the flesh-searing dagger. Not wanting to be infected, Ritter states that he chose to burn the body of the warlock and gathered up the ashes and the hilt of the dagger. Many disputed this claim, stating that despite the hilt of the dagger, there was still insufficient evidence that Ritter had actually killed the warlock.
However, as weeks went on with no new reports of any plague or poisonings, skeptics finally relent and declare Ritter Shortshank a hero, rewarding him the village’s bounty. Mr. Shortshank, content with his new fame, chose to buy an inn where he served drinks and brags about his accomplishments to anyone who will stick around long enough to listen. In truth, the “hero” never did anything. After realizing that the warlock had probably moved on or been killed, he crafted a story of how he tracked down the mad warlock and killed him.
Ritter took the ashes from a camp fire and bought an ornate dagger hilt from a traveling weaponsmith and presented the two items to Everling’s Mayor. Knowing that the only person to have seen the dagger was dead, everyone assumed that the dagger hilt belonged to the warlock. Ritter maintained his deceit of the entire town for some time and eventually married the mayor’s daughter. One day however, the mayor returned home to find his residence stripped of all its valuable possessions.
Soon it was revealed that the Shortshank residence also appeared to have been robbed, as was the bar which Ritter owned thought he himself was nowhere to be found. Not knowing whether Ritter was to blame or was in fact a victim of the apparent crime spree, the town set out to discover Ritter’s fate. Unfortunately for the townsfolk, Ritter was never found and after several years his memory was forgotten along with his controversial legend.
Though this is not the end of the story for Alexander Simond…
According to Bloodsaber legend, it is said that Alexander was visited by a shadowy figure, surrounded by a swarm of flying insects one night. The figure promises the widower immense power and access to the Demiplane of Pestilence where he could continue his research without the fear of persecution. However, to be allowed such a thing, Alexander would need to recover an artifact stolen by none other than the God of Plunder, Derris Zek. That artifact, known as Death’s Grip, had been given to another warlock by Kyrtoxxulous, ruler of the Demiplane of Pestilence, entrusting him to use it to accomplish some fiendish deed.
That warlock, though immensely powerful in his own right, failed in his task and was stabbed in the back by the very dagger that he had been entrusted with. Alexander, who now called himself Gherzhas, began his search, starting first across Antonica, then eventually to Kunark where he enlisted the aid of an Iksar scholar named Toshiki to track the blade down. Whether or not Gherzhas was successful is not known though Bloodsaber agents often make claims that they themselves now possess Death’s Grip.
Legend also speaks of a man in dark robes seen standing at the grave of Yasinia Simond near Nektropos Castle every Deepice, the month of her death. Could this man be Gherzhas come to pay his respects to his deceased wife? No one quite knows for sure.