Esteban Corazón de Ablo was born on May 1st 1500 AD. He lost his parents to disease at an early age. Despite being nobles, living in the lands outside the city of Zaragoza in the kingdom of Aragon, modern medicine was simply unable to cure their condition. Left to the care of his uncle Pedro Esteban spent his youth learning both the skills required of a noble and everything he could find about medicine. Esteban planned to become a doctor in order to try and save people from the same fate as his parents. Leaving his home in Zaragoza Esteban traveled to Switzerland to study in the famous University of Basel. It was here that a young Esteban met the eccentric and somewhat infamous Paracelsus. Esteban’s quick wit soon caught the attention of Paracelsus and a friendship quickly formed between the two young men.
Medicine and its related arts was not the only thing Paracelsus taught Esteban. When classes had ended Esteban was tutored in the more esoteric art of alchemy. Finding he had a natural flair for it Esteban’s learning increased at an astounding pace. Soon rivaling that of Paracelsus himself. Their alchemical studies continued until Paracelsus got involved in a dispute which forced him to leave the university and the city. Esteban followed and the two of them traveled across Europe, Asia Minor and Africa in search of hidden and forbidden knowledge.
They traveled this way for over a decade until word eventually reached Esteban that his uncle’s health was declining and he must return as soon as possible. Bidding Paracelsus farewell Esteban rushed back to Zaragoza. Unfortunately inclement weather delayed his return home and by the time he arrived his uncle was beyond the help of even Esteban’s significant medical abilities.
Medicine was not however the only thing Esteban was a master of. Locking himself in his study Esteban threw himself into the magnum opus, the formation of the philosophers stone. As his uncle’s life slowly ebbed away Esteban worked feverishly towards his goal. Disregarding sleep and food Esteban concentrated his whole being into the creation of the philosophers stone.
But tragedy was not done with Esteban Corazón de Ablo. After a fortnight of near non stop work Esteban had miraculously managed to complete the first stage of the philosophers stone, the Egg of the Phoenix. Using it to augment his alchemical abilities Esteban was able to save his Uncle’s life. Returning to his study Esteban finally dropped into his bed sleeping like one dead. Hour’s later Esteban was roused from his sleep by the sound of screaming and the smell of something burning. Dragging himself to the window Esteban threw upon the shutters and looked out on the hellish scene below. His uncle and a number of the other servants were being lead in chains from the estate under the care of mounted Inquisitor’s. Esteban was all too familiar with the fanatical, and all too often corrupt, actions of the Spanish Inquisition. No doubt some loose lipped servant had let something slip and his uncle’s political rivals had capitalised upon the chance.
Whatever chance for leniency and release his uncle and the servants had would be quickly dashed should the inquisition find any of the material in Esteban’s room. Though it pained him to do so Esteban quickly set his notes and books aflame. Unfortunately fire would not be enough to destroy the Egg of the Phoenix and Esteban could not risk it being found. In an act he would later regret Esteban hurriedly swallowed the small stone. Second after swallowing the stone Esteban felt fire filling him, consuming him, burning up his body and mind.
The next thing Esteban knew he was looking up a sunny sky through clouds of dust and shattered stone. Finding himself in a ruined basement Esteban clambered out of the hole something had just punched in the ceiling. Squinting until his eyes adjusted to the light Esteban found himself looking out across a world he had never seen. Wandering the war torn roads of Spain Esteban discovered that he was a man out of time. Four centuries had passed since that faithful night his home had been raided. Esteban could feel the Egg of the Phoenix radiating power from within him. Lost and feel as alone as it was possible to be Esteban wandered the roads and hills in a daze, passing through towns and villages in a fugue Esteban saw a country torn apart by war. In a way this war saved Esteban, lost as he was he was still the same man he had always been. A man who couldnt turn his face from the misery and suffering around him. Calling on skills both alchemical and medical Esteban did his best to help. Unfortunately the world of medicine had outpaced him and he was forced to rely more heavily on his alchemical abilities. But the Egg of the Phoenix gave him power beyond what he previously possessed.
Esteban saved what lives he could and when the war ended he realised he had no place in Franco’s new Spain. Enthralled by the promise of the new world and the opportunities for learning it possessed Esteban used his alchemical skills to secure travel to the United States. Upon becoming a citizen there Esteban set out to learn all that he could of the time he had missed. He eventually enrolled in medical school and emerged armed with all the knowledge modern medicine had to offer. Esteban traveled the United States and later the world, working as a Doctor, helping the poor and downtrodden, and also for some clue as to what had happened to him. Over time he was forced to changed identities to avoid suspicion, this prevented him from getting steady work in a hospital or as a private practice.
Using the considerable wealth he had amassed Esteban set up a free clinic in New York’s notorious Hell’s Kitchen district. There he worked tirelessly by day as a well loved and respected doctor. But as more and more super-powered criminals appeared Esteban started venturing forth at night in a costumed guise, using his alchemical powers to take down criminals that the police could not. Becoming the shadowy protector of the slums, feared by criminals, becoming THE ALCHEMIST!
Despite his long “sleep” Esteban has still lived longer than most normal people. While time has tempered his youthful enthusiasm it has done nothing to dampen his strong desire to save people, nor his love of learning.
The Egg of the Phoenix augments Esteban’s already prodigious alchemical abilities. He can transmute, create and shape matter almost at will. However the longer such changes remain the more energy they require and making permanent changes draws enough energy from the dragon’s egg to leave Esteban prostrate. Esteban can restore the dragon’s egg through meditation and/or imbibing certain alchemical tinctures. Esteban is an expert doctor and surgeon with literally decades of experience to draw upon. He is also a master fencer and, thanks to his alchemical skills, is in perfect physical condition. Esteban also no longer ages and is functionally immortal as long as the Egg of the Phoenix is not destroyed.
I knew I wanted to use Diablo/Esteban for something but it took me a while to get his origin “feeling” right. I’m still not entirely happy with the stuff that occurs after he swallows the stone. Diablo was a character that I always thought was pretty cool but hindered by poor writing. Oh and his costume looks fucking ridiculous. I was somewhat tempted to keep the deal with Mephisto but “good guy fighting against his evil patron/one bad decision” is a bit boring to me these days. Also, after One More Day, Mephisto just pisses me off. I’m still not entirely happy about his origin. Or his name, maybe DR DIABLO! would be better.