High Tides and Low Life
Vodacce Merchant Prince
Age: Early Thirties
Giovanni is a tall, slender man in his early thirties with short black hair and an immaculately combed goatee. His aquiline nose gives him a sinister handsomeness, complemented by his everpresent evil smile. He speaks with soft confidence and never raises his voice; after all, he has the advantage in every situation. His manners are impeccable, which makes his actions all the more horrible. Giovanni is a perfect sociopath; he understands morality perfectly but sees no need to adhere to it. Since he has no conscience or feeling of guilt, he is free to commit whatever evil he pleases. He never hides his villainy and revels in the open hatred it produces. As Scarovese said, it is better to be feared than loved.
“It’s not important to be the first man to strike. Only to be the last man standing.” - Giovanni Villanova
The leader of the most black-hearted family of Theah, Giovanni has few peers when it comes to human villainy. While Pirate Reis induces more late-night shudders and Empereur Leon inflicts more widespread misery, Giovanni matches an utter lack of ethics with a preternatural intelligence. Leons vanity blinds him to his enemies and Reis is hunted across the seas; Villanova is too smart for any of that. His enemies know better than to look for a weakness.
He began his career when he was only ten years old. His father Allegro suffered an unfortunate fall down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck and leaving Giovanni at the head of the family. No one ever mentioned the young boy’s presence behind his father before the fall, or his toy entangled in the old man’s feet. It just seemed safer not to mention it.
With Allegro’s death Giovanni’s, elder brother Giam technically became Prince, but Giovanni had planned for that, too. Sensing the boy’s innate power, Giam tried to advert the inevitable by promising to abdicate when Giovanni came of age. It didn’t help. The younger Villanova poisoned his brother over a period of two years, ensuring Giam never change his mind about the position.
Since then, he has risen to the top of the Great Game, exhibiting ruthless ambition with no morals to balance it. He has killed dozens of would-be rivals and thwarted countless failed coups. He never underestimates his opponents, and stays absolutely objective at all times. Emotion has no place in his schemes; he engineers his plots with clockwork precision. His reputation as a villain keeps the other princes aligned against him, or else he would have seized the throne long ago.
Today, Giovanni rules with absolute authority, threatening war upon his neighbors in the Arene Candide and supporting the largest most prestigious university in Vodacce. He keeps a careful eye on the discoveries and the inventions of the Dionna scholars, always seeking something that will increase his power and prestige. He knows about the plans of the the other Merchant Princes — Bernoulli’s army in the hills, Mondavi’s Eisen mercenaries, and intends to use their mistakes for his own benefit. A man cannot fight a war on all fronts; Villanova plans to make certain that the other Princes begin the war… and he ends it.
Villanova trusts only two people: his courtesan Juliette and his wife Valentina. One is his lover, the other no more than a servant beneath his care — but a servant that he takes care to treat with the greatest respect. The future she controls is his own, and he has no intention of allowing her to change what he sees as his rightful future: the mastery of Vodacce.
Though Valentina is a more powerful Fate Witch, she is not as powerful as others, and Villanova often wishes that her talent were greater so that his own power could be increased. recently, he has learned that Bernice Caligari is practicing new, strange powers of Sorte. She will not discuss it even with her closest maidservant (Villanova’s spy), but from her secret journals (which his spy reads), he knows that she is attempting to duplicate some strange Sorte first discovered by Mad Queen Marietta. Any other man might have had Bernice killed, but Villanova is certain that he can turn this to his advantage. If she is as powerful as she seems, then her abilities can be of use to him. Juliette insists that they can control her, and Villanova believes his courtesan.