The horror of the Theater
In his life, Roystonas Gražusis was an actor. He was more than that, he was a very good actor, one of the finest in 19th century Hartford. He played the leading role of every romance, had a beautiful singing voice, and set the hearts of many a society belle aflutter. He had dash, he had verve, he had that magnificent ability to make every person in the audience feel as though Gražusis played for him and him alone. For a few glorious years, Gražusis had it all. He married an Italian actress in 1865, when he was 26. He was knighted in the Christmas Honors of 1881, and he had all the money he wanted. Life was beautiful, and even his separation from his wife (in 1880) couldn’t ruin it.
Time could. And that’s the ironic secret of Roystonas Gražusis, that he asked for immortality. He was getting old, he stopped playing the romantic leads and started getting the distinguished, mature roles. His body began to ache, and time was running out. Roystonas panicked, and he began to search for something, anything that would halt his slide into infirmity and decay. That would have been too much, to lose everything he had gained to Time. So, one midnight, sometime in the 1890s, Roystonas Gražusis found himself seated at a chess board opposite Death, dressed in an undertaker’s suit and a grinning death’s-head mask. How the meeting came about, Roystonas will never say. Only that desperation always finds a way. And when Roystonas asked to live forever, in exchange for all his fortune and all his fame, Death agreed.
Gražusis could have accepted the loss of his wealth. It had never mattered to him other than as a way of living the high life. He accepted that he would have to disappear, that fame could not follow him to undeath. But what Death failed to mention was that he would lose his voice, that it would break and ruin and that Roystonas Gražusis’ beautiful singing voice would turn to a scratchy, unholy horror. No one could hear him and do anything but shudder.
Gražusis went a little mad. He haunted the theaters he knew so well and he built his world there, turning it more and more to his liking with every rebuilt theater. Little passageways that only he knew about. Guards who believed every word that he said to them. Addicts who thought him some dark angel, actors who believed in the Phantom. He became a ghost, whispering through the world, watching the world he could never again participate.
In modern nights, Gražusis is saner if not sane. He’s a monster, with bloody talons and a sadistic frame of mind, and though he is not the most dangerous demon to lurk beneath the floorboards, neither is he the least. He maintains his Necropolis beneath the theater district, with its labyrinthine catacombs and its bizarre theaters and storerooms. With blood and secret whispers, he controls his people, the actors and staff of the Theater, and the homeless vagrants who cluster beneath it. With black magic and force of will, he knows every nook and every corner, can bend every aspect of the theater to his darkest desire. He occasionally lets it out to other vampires or denizens of the supernatural world, in exchange for favors. Those he dislikes never see the light of day again.