About Dr. Stefan Von Herzog
: A physician and chirurgeon trained at the University of Lepidstadt, Dr. Stefan Von Herzog is a striking man with pale skin, a piercing gaze with dark brown eyes, and dark hair streaked with gray that has receeded to a widow's peak. While he assumes an air of aristocratic authority, a sense of melancholy and loss seems to follow him. Regardless of the source of this sadness, Stefan is by nature a kind, gentle, and generous man. Normally reserved and often quiet, he will not hesitate to chime in with his opinion, and will occasionally wax poetic about particular subjects. He is well-versed in literature and enjoys the theatre, yet his main interest is in arcane medical secrets. He despises undeath, considering such dark magic to the ultimate corruption of the natural cycle of life. To that end, he has now dedicated his academic life at the University of Leipstadt to the study of necromancy, in order to combat the undead menace that suffuses his homeland. Once a favored pupil of Professor Lorrimor, Stefan's sorrow deepened even further when he learned of his mentor's recent death. He has temporarily closed his medical practice in Lepidstadt to travel to Ravengro and attend his late friend's funeral.
Dr. Stefan Von Herzog
*-spell of necromancy school
Backgound Born to a wealthy family in Lepidstadt, Ustalav, Stefan was the youngest of three children. A serious and studious boy, Stefan excelled in schooling. As a young man, he enrolled in the University of Lepidstadt to study medicine. A favorite student of Professor Lorimor, Stefan excelled in his studies. As a student, Stefan fell in love with a fellow student, Andrei Cheucesceau. The two were inseparable, and lived together happily for five years. In their third year of medical school, they were laboratory partners in a class on advanced anatomy. One night, while working on a project studying human cadavers, the subject Stefan and Andrei were working on suddenly animated and attacked. The suddenly-animated corpse seriously injured Adnrei, infecting him with a necromantic infection. Fortunately for Stefan, Professor Lorrimor happend to come by the lab at that time, destroyed the undead creature, and tried to treat Andrei's wounds. However, despite the ministrations of the medical staff at the university, Andrei succumbed to the infection, died, and rose as an undead creature, running out of the morgue after seriously injuriing another medical student. Seeking the aid of Professor Lorrimor, the two men hunted down and destroyed the thing that had been Andrei.
Devastated by the loss of the love of his life, Stefan dedicated his life to the study of the the living and how to heal them, and the undead and how to destroy them. After completing his studies as an undergraduate, Stefan became a physician. He went on to become a successful practitioner of medicine in Lepidstadt.
Stefan has never gotten over the death of Andrei, and stil pines for his lost love. He has bouts of melancholy and depression, which he tries to ignore by burying himself in his work.
Seventeen years ago...
The coffee pot burbled loudly on the stovetop as eggs sizzled in the frying pan. Stefan opened the door of the woodstove and threw in a few more sticks of firewood from the pile on the kitchen floor. I never thought I'd become a halfway decent cook while at University, he thought idly as he flipped the eggs, so I suppose not having my own cook any more has at least one advantage! The smell of breakfast filled the small apartment, and Stefan turned to set the table.
"That smells delicious," came a voice from the next room. Stefan smiled as Andrei walked into the kitchen, wearing a red silk dressing-gown and leather slippers. His long blonde hair was tied in a pony tail, and he wore a goatee to accentuate his Ulfen ancestry. "Good morning, love!" greeted Stefan, and the young men embraced.
"Ready for tonight's practical?" asked Stefan as he poured a mug of steaming coffee into a pewter mug. He held the mug to Andrei, who took the mug and slurped loudly.
"About as ready as I will be. I hope this week's subject won't smell as bad as the last one." Andrei took another sip.
"I guess that's what we get when the University is competing for corpses in Lepidstadt: peasants dead of the pox for five days. The fresher corpses just get up and walk away." They both chuckled at the joke, even if it was in poor taste. Stefan poured himself a mug of coffee, and the two men sat down to enjoy their breakfast.
. . .
The lock clicked open, and the heavy oaken door creaked on its hinges as it swung inward. The cut stone walls were damp with condensation, and the room reeked of decay. The flickering torchlight unveiled a dungeon-like room, about 20 feet square. Wooden shelves held medical equipment along the walls. In the center of the room stood a white-draped metal examining table. A humanoid shape was underneath the bloodstained sheet.
Stefan stepped into the room, and Andrei followed in silence. Stefan lit two other torches in wall sconces, placing his own torch in another, while Andrei lit the oil lamp suspended over the exam table. "Ugh! This one smells even worse than the last one!" complained Andrei, his face a grimace of disgust.
Stefan wheeled the tray of chirurgical instruments next to the exam table. "Ew. That is truly foul. This won't be a pleasant lab practical. Let's go through it as quickly as we can." He placed a medical text on the tray and opened to the current lesson while Andrei donned his apron and gloves. Stefan put on his own lab gear and picked up a scalpel. Andrei pulled back the sheet.
The naked corpse of a man of indeterminate age lay on the table. Its skin had begun to decay badly, and was now an angry purple hue. Reddish-black fluid seeped from the corpse, pooling onto the exam table and dripping onto the floor, where grooves cut into the floor channeled it into a drain. But something about the corpse didn't seem right-- did it just twitch? "Andrei, did you see that?" Andrei frowned and stepped closer to the corpse. He poked at its cheek with his scalpel.
At that, the corpse's eyes flicked open, and it roared-- a hoarse gasping roar that chilled Stefan to the bone. Shocked and alarmed, the two doctors-in-training stumbled backward as the body sat up and balefully turned its milky-white eyes toward them. It lunged at Andrei, gripping his shoulders and forcing him off his feet. Andrei fell hard on the stone floor as the zombie rent his flesh with its hideous black nails that were far sharper than they appeared. It then bit Andrei's neck, and red living blood now ran into the drainiage grooves. Andrei screamed in agony.
Stefan scanned the tray of chirurgical tools for an appropriate weapon to use on the undead thing that was trying its best to kill his lover. He grabbed a scalpel the size of a butcher knife, normally used for slicing through flesh quickly when amputating a gangrenous limb. He plunged the knife into the zombie's back, which got its attention. The zombie lurched around with one arm in an attempt to grab Stefan's ankle, but Stefan managed to sidestep. He pulled the scalpel out and plunged it back in, this time aiming for its shoulder. Maybe if I cut of its arms, it won't be able to attack, he thought.
Andrei, still clutching his own scaplel, managed to jam the instrument into what remained of the zombie's left eye. It bellowed, gurgled a moment, then exploded in a rain of nauseating black blood and a hail of putrescent organs. The force knocked Stefan off his feet.
As he staggered to his feet, covered in decayed gore, the door to the lab opened. Standing with a look of shock and horror was Professor Lorrimor. "By the Lady of Graves!" he swore. Stefan and the professor moved the now-unconscious Andrei to a stretcher and carried him to the infirmary.
"Andrei! Please stay with me! Don't leave me alone!"