The Secret Garden
Arnau de Villanova
A man, maybe 60 years old. His brittle-looking gray hair is tied back in a ponytail, and his delicate beard is fashioned to a careful point. Little spectacles cling to his liver-spotted nose. His face has a youthful quality, though: quick to smile or frown, reacting eagerly to whatever he hears. His old-man ears have grown to frame his face. When we talks, he reveals the kind of mesmerizing Spanish accent that you might associate with a cartoon Don Juan, but with none of the sleaze. Everything about his demeanor says “academic,” though he has the gentle manner of a man from a more polite time.
Arnau de Villanova is a Catalan alchemist and physician who lived, publicly, in the 13th and 14th centuries. He was a well-known Arab philosopher and surgeon who authored dozens of pamphlets and guides on human anatomy and the functions of the human body. His writings were collected and published well into the 17th century. According to some texts, he attempted to create an artificial human kidney that could operate above and beyond the abilities of the natural human kidney.
In 1313, after being driven out of mainland Europe by ecclesiastic thinkers and so-called scientists, Pope Clement V summoned Villanova to Avignon. The Pope was ill, and supposedly called out to Villanova for aid, but Villanova knew better — it was a lure by the Church to draw Villanova back into their reach so they could stop him and his work. Villanova boarded a ship bound to Avignon from Sicily anyway, knowing it was a trap, but died on the voyage.
So says history. In truth, Villanova survived, protected by his Arts. Time, however was not kind to him. As the Ascension War took its toll, his alchemies began to fail. In the end, he was reduced to stealing human kidneys to provide potent enough components for the elixirs that prolonged his life. This very practice proved his undoing when he took the kidney of Aiden Cavannaugh, leading to his defeat, capture, and subsequent death by ketamine poisoning at the hand of Kailani Benson.