He was simply born into a world not beautiful enough for him. It was a matter of opinion, of course, but the world he perceived was a grayer, stormier one than the one his heart wished to inhabit. Dirt was his foe, grayscale his sworn enemy: so he went on to make a life of turning darkness into light, ugliness into beauty, and truth into lies.

He himself was born sadly human and with all the burdens and flaws that humans had to bear, but from the first pangs of self-realization he felt as a child he strived to make himself more presentable to the world. He would rather go out naked than wearing conservative clothing; if the world could not judge you on your outside, then what could they judge you on? Simply from making sure that his face was always soft and free of unwanted stubble, he became adept at handling a razor and decided that being a barber was as good a career as any to improve the dressings the world wore. It was easier than sewing clothing, he knew, or painting, and it wasn't an unrespectable profession; he would not be looked down in others' eyes.

But the cold, twisted realities of the world crept up on him, little by little, to show their faces. One could not become a barber without training; one could not get training easily. It was with much effort that he secured a place in a small, dinky barber's shop, a million miles from the well-lit and nicely-kept room he'd imagined in his head. Well, it was a start, he told himself, but the pessimist in him attacked. If he was betraying his own values and working for a slob, someone who did not share the same mission as he, then he wasn't doing good or right.

But the razors – the razors changed that. They were pure power, with blades sharp enough to tear through skin and muscle but gentle enough so that, in the right hands, they could brush flesh and leave no mark, cause no pain. The play of light and dark across their blades was nothing but art in itself, and though he knew he was not good enough yet to wield those things properly, he lusted. There was no word for it besides that. When Barker held them in his hands and pressed them against a customer's cheek, he felt a thrill; he longed to hold them one day in his own hands, to use that sort of power to make the world lovely and well-shaven.

It did not come to pass. Barker went to jail and now the boy was on the streets. Years passed, years that flew despite the drudgery of it all, and though his dreams of owning those razors slipped away, he never forgot what he strove for. Another cold reality hit him, that without money, ugly though it could be, he could not make himself presentable, and so because he would rather die than beg, he began to steal.

Oh, it was not really stealing: or rather it was stealing from the foolish, something he could almost agree with. With each day he slipped and fell, and slipped a little more; the world looked darker to him, and so his attempts to lighten it became something of a disease, a fevered passion. This was what he was striving for; could he bear the feeling of leaving this world knowing that he had changed it not at all? Could he stand himself? Could he stand this gray, dreary place in which he found himself for much longer?

And fast on his descent down, down, ever down, something caught his eye.

Old friends, almost. Not the man – the razors. Not that bedraggled, dark-eyed barber who wielded them with daring and bet so much upon his skill: it was not this wraith he recognized. And if those weapons had been held by different hands, hands that did not treat them as lovingly as their former master Barker had, then they would never have been recognized.

Here was an opportunity.

Pirelli leapt.