The creature was found in a fetid alleyway, huddled against the night cold grime of the lowest levels of foundation and class, hunched so that the prominent knobs of his bare spine were pushed close to the surface of his thin pallid skin. He sat in a nest of rags that could not be easily discernable from their surroundings due to the filth that covered all of them. Scattered amongst these tatters that melded to their human host were remnants of the creatures meals, small bones sticking up from the mess like pale splinters and larger more appalling bones that looked revoltingly human. Asides from this hunched form the alley was empty; not even rats scuttled in the slightly illuminated darkness, as though they had recognized the small bones of their fellows and made to keep clear. Humans did not usually tread this area of Naples unless they had no other choice. Rumors of fallen comrades and cannibals were enough to give the creature that dwelt in this lowest level some measure of insanity inducing solitude.
But it was also because of the rumors that fools would sometimes seek him out, looking to prove themselves against this unnamable dread. None had ever managed to so much as separate the grime from his hide with their weapons before he'd cracked their skulls open against the cool cobblestones. This was always enough to send the foolhardy dead mans companions screaming into the night, for none of them were ever noble enough to try to avenge their fallen friend and so the creature was left alone to feast. A human provided him with enough sustenance to last for several weeks and as he had lost the memory of earning money and buying food, and indeed the ability to do so, he was not mentally capable of wasting good meat.
Some citizens, wealthy enough to live in this squalid area with a roof over their heads, would peer down into the murky darkness in which the creature lived and were therefore able to give some accounts and descriptions of him. A tall thin, man; disheveled and covered with layers of filth with clothing that hung off of him in strips and was tied to him more than it was worn. He was gaunt and could move, they surmised, like a phantom with seemingly no effort and not subject to gravity. They were always sure to shut and latch their windows securely at night when he was most active and although they shuddered when screams echoed from below, they were perversely excited to be able tell their friends about the latest victim of 'cannibal corridor' before any one else got the news.
In some ways, the cannibal man had earned himself a devote fan following amongst the people. Whenever conversation was hard to come by at pubs or even high-class dinner parties, eventually a new gruesome account of his escapades would reach their ears and give them something to gossip about for weeks. Some clamed he was doing society a service, as those foolish enough to seek him out were usually drunkards or troublemakers, and he was hailed, in a very hush-hush manner, as a degenerate do-gooder. These people believed that because they were well to do, the cannibal wouldn't dare throttle their brains across the grimy, low class, foundations although they were careful to avoid the area at all costs. Those who were confronted on a daily basis with the possibility of running into the beast of a man were less apt to heap praise upon him although they regarded him with disgusted awe. Most considered him a threat to society but through their own fear, could never be bothered with the prospect of actually doing something against this threat.
The man, for the most part, knew none of this. For as long as he could remember, he had lived in this small spider web of alleys, venturing out only at night and only if food and water became scarce outside his own network. He did not know that this had not always been the case, and that long ago he'd been a member of society, a deviant member, but still a recognizable human. His mind had deteriorated enough that he could not remember all of his past, only frightening fragments, enchanting and delicate as wisps of smoke. As he sought to grab hold of these memories and retain them, they danced elusively through his long spidery fingers and served only to frustrate, confuse and on occasion, terrify him. Because he was not often eager to feel these emotions, he spent less and less time trying to recall the memories and as such he forgot more and more of whom he was. Only one thing could be grasped by remembering and that was his name: Voldo.
But that no longer troubled him. He was what he was. Humans had no proper adjectives for him, save that he was stripped of sense; a streamlined animal version of his former self. Because he could not remember he could not care, or know how much he had declined. He spent his time surviving and fulfilling his primal instincts. Any human reduced to such basics would seem terrifying indeed.
He could understand that people who came across him were frightened of his appearance, could to an extent, understand the sounds they made and decipher the meanings behind them. He knew he was cannibal, he was abomination, damned, disgraceful. He was hero and villain alike. He was Voldo and no one knew that but him.
The usual bi-weekly happenings of cannibal corridor ignited such interest and speculation that he was soon known throughout most of the Kingdom of Naples and was a celebrity of Calabria Ultra, his hometown on the southernmost tip of Italy. It was perhaps no surprise then that Vercci, Merchant of Death, took an interest in the gruesome, and seemingly impossible stories that emerged from the seaport town as he often took interest in and caused gruesome scenes himself. His underlings could often be heard gossiping amongst themselves about the latest man or woman to disappear, and the spine tingling sounds that could be heard from Cannibal Corridor and at first he was quick to dismiss such a thing as rumor. But as a rumor, it was becoming staggeringly persistent and even a man with as razor sharp a mind as his could not deny that there must be some grain of truth behind them. The more he heard, the more interested he became until he began to order his soldiers to find out more, find out facts, locations, names and to report back to him. His greed usually began with an all-consuming interest such as possessed him now, and he began to build a picture of the hideous beast man of rumor in his mind, and to obsess over it.
Vercci was a man feared by all, known for his fierce drive to acquire anything of value, to posses and own all that he felt 'owed' to him by society. He was of medium height, refined in manner and appearance, in his late thirties, with dignified wisps of gray streaking his otherwise jet black hair and pointed tuft of beard. His eyes were black, sharp, and penetrating as daggers and most would not look at him directly when speaking to him or being addressed.
He had obtained his moniker, Merchant of Death, because he was first and foremost a weapons dealer, providing the Kingdom of Naples with instruments ranging from rapiers, broad swords, and guns to instruments of torture too gruesome to name. Vercci was careful never to take sides in any battle and supplied only those who could afford his steep prices. It was behind this somewhat legitimate front that Vercci truly became the Merchant of Death. He dealt in slaves, transporting them from Africa, the Middle East and remote cultures isolated on even more remote islands. Thirty percent of these captives died while on route to Italy to be sold and those that received a master were hardly better off. The situations they would be sold into were varying; some taking care of household duties, some working fields and the unluckiest of all were sold as sex slaves.
Vercci did not mind the suffering he inflicted on these people who had been violently uprooted from their homes and torn from families. Some deep part of him actually reveled in their cries and longed to hear them, sometimes in the dead of night. Vercci's own servants were often slaves he'd imported himself; slaves whose anguish had touched that deep place in him, and made him happy. Besides those in obvious emotional distress, he busied himself with finding those of fierce spirits, those who refused to be cowed. Some took longer than others, but there was not a slave who's wills he couldn't bend to his own. Breaking them was great entertainment and he employed many painful and humiliating methods to do so.
As the rumors surrounding this beast man, the cannibal, persisted and grew in proportion, Vercci knew he had to have him; he had to test his will against this creature and break him as he'd done to so many others. If he could be cowed, he may make an incredible asset to his staff. He imagined meeting those who were indebted to him with a man rumored to eat other men at his side, waiting to tear open their throats like an obedient dog. If others knew he was capable of taming the famed cannibal, his reputation in the gritty underworld would soar. He would not send his underlings directly to capture the monster. If the rumors were true, the beast may find his lack of initiative insulting. And Vercci had never been known to share that which caused him pleasure.