The name’s Giovanni. Adrian Giovanni. You might’ve heard of the Giovanni crime family – yeah, that’s us.
These days, though, people call me Alastor. (Or “hey kid,” whatever.) I’m what they call a Warlock, on the Path of Scourging. A Mastigos. I dunno why they call us Warlocks, it sounds kind of stupid, but whatever floats their fuckin boats.
So what’s a Mastigos? My power comes from a Supernal Realm called Pandemonium. Yeah, that’s right, like where the devil lives. Only the devil is us. Warlocks. At first I didn’t get it. Why would awakening to a higher power mean drawing that power from Hell? What are we, the villains or something? Well, depends on how you look at it. Guys I’ve whacked, yeah, they probably thought I was a villain. But somebody’s gotta stand here in the darkness, push the Fallen World up from the gutter, and better me than a bunch of sleepers and legit guys like Caesar. I’m already a killer, already living the nightmare. I can handle it. They shouldn’t have to.
Learning magic ain’t always a walk in the park. Some things come easy – knowing where a mark is with my eyes closed, picking up on how people feel, knowing how a guy died. Could do that stuff from day one. Other things are harder. Like reading books for hours at a time, Jesus Christ. I got lucky in some ways, getting picked up by the Mensarius. He’s kind of a douche but he’s the kind of douche you don’t mind working for, cause he’s got a vision and he’s smart about it. But the reason I got lucky ain’t because he’s clever, practical and more megalomaniacal than any don I ever saw. It’s cause he teaches hands-on and doesn’t give a flying fuck about me writing any papers or nothin. Thank God.
Now when I say he’s hands-on what I really mean is he’s mind-on, I guess. He just gets into my head and walks me through it, no fuckin around with books. Then he asks me questions. If I get it, great. If I don’t, tough fuckin cookies, I gotta practice it later on my own. Took some getting used to, having him in my head like that. He always makes me try to resist him, too. Ain’t ever done it yet, but I think I’m getting closer. It feels a little bit like somebody’s pouring oil right in through my ear or something, and then his voice is there in my mind. Kind of like I’m being watched, but from inside myself. I know he can read what’s rattling around in there when he does it, so I’m learning to control what I think.
Then there’s Grim. Grimnir, I should say. The Mensarius is a master at Death, but he won’t teach it yet, figures Mind’s more important so he started there. So my buddy Grim’s been showing me the ropes instead. He says I got a knack for Death, real natural. Man was I shocked to hear that, let me tell you. It really shows you how fucked the Fallen World is, looking at everything through that lens. Shows you the nightmare up close and personal. Helps remind me why I do all this. Why I joined the Ladder. I figure if I get to know Death, I’ll understand better what my place is in this world, being a bringer of it. Like the Acanthus say, we’re all destined for something. So what does destiny want with a guy like me?