On the small, near-calm island of Liryos, there's a tavern run by a once-successful pirate's descendants. The tavern, known locally as The Wicked Wave, or more commonly, Wicked, boasts no small amount of home-brewed beer and liquor, courtesy of the countless alchemically-inclined boarders who have stayed in its sister business, The Wavecrest Inn, located exactly one door towards the coastline proper. Those brewers and distillers may recall a child, a scrawny lad, who had deep and expressive eyes, a watchful disposition, and an analytical mind, even as a youth. While most of his brothers and sisters, of which he had three of each, grew tall and proud, he was far less athletically-inclined and learned more esoteric facts and knowledge, leaning heavily on the alchemists for their know-how and tips.
Within his tenth year, he was already developing into the same accursed condition as befell his uncle, a sorcerer plying his trade on the open seas, happily enslaving crews captured under his watch, both the living and the dead, and he was shipped off, in a literal sense, to be taken in by his uncle. Sadly, his uncle saw little promise in young Mados, and put him to work cleaning freshly-killed bodies for reanimation, and in so doing, unwittingly spelled his own demise.
In the dank, dark holds of those ships, he learned how men and women died under force of arms - there are, after all, countless manners in which the living become the dead, and thus, he was able to discern, without judgment of motive, how a person could fall to their death through those means, one and all, with no secrets kept from him - as he would say, in those rare moments of speech, the dead were telling him their stories, and he was avid listener.
He also learned that his uncle, Fellfar of Liryos, was by no means selecting the animated dead at random; rather, he was striking with elegant precision at the noble merchant bloodlines of Seagarden, pruning out unwanted and unwelcome sons and daughters, those who'd brought either shame or a presence which was preempted by someone else's plans - and those someones were paying quite nicely to know that those undead were, in fact, never to be raised again, and thus, kept incommunicado.
When next the ship made landfall within a day's sailing of Seagarden, Mados left the ship with nothing save for the logbook in which he'd kept his records of those deaths, their names, and the dates of their demises and reanimation, then approached not the merchant-nobles' houses, but rather, their shared space's occupant: a tavern-keeper who had a small degree of fame as a peace-broker amongst the nobility, forever staving off economic warfare and open bloodshed.
When the logbook was presented, the mood in the immediate area was far, far worse than could be expected - and his uncle, he was to be hunted by what passed for law, who shined mightily on the still-young Mados, inspiring him to continue his studies, this time, with a little better guidance. Thus, he entered civil service, in a manner of speaking, in the catacombs beneath Seagarden, providing insights into death's call, over and over, to the edification of the mourners who visited, guiding them on tours, and of course, collecting both their fees and further cues and clues.
When he was of the age of majority, he'd developed quite a strong degree of prowess, both martially and mystically, learning from monks, fellow sorcerers in service to the sea-lords and -ladies, and a few captains who, from time to time, would inquire if a death in the family, both literal and figurative, was as natural as was being claimed. Thus, he earned a living enough to save up for passage, then came to the mainland, destined as he felt it, to earn his living as a bridge between the mysteries of the dead and the wisdom sought by the living.
His uncle, however, remains at large, hunted and despised.. and still being used by the same people as before.
After all, death is not the end - it's just part of the business.
"Down in the darkness, you can't face all of your enemies nor find your friends - you will find yourself, though." - Mados