The youngest son of dwarven traders from Janderhoff, Vaneigem often accompanied his parents on their frequent voyages to ply their wares in the markets of Korvosa. As a child, his jovial demeanor and penchant for bawdy mischief not only set him apart from the typically dour temperament of his fellow dwarves, but also garnished considerable renown among the Korvosian elites that populated his parents’ clientele. But while Vaneigem’s mirthful pranks brought good cheer among Korvosa’s upper classes (and steady business for his parents), these sentiments was not shared by all. After one too many ribald jokes at his expense, one particularly spiteful noble repaid Vaneigem’s cavalier humour with the suggestion that his parents seek out one of his “business contacts” in Korvosa’s docks. Lured by the prospect of expanding their fledgling trade, Vaneigem’s parents were relieved of both their caravan and their very lives by a gang of thieves who had been tipped off by the same noble that Vaneigem had insulted.
Unnoticed by his parents’ killers during the ambush, the terrified young dwarf managed to flee into the dark back alleys of the docks. After two cold and starving days he encountered Gaedren Lamm, a bitter, wizened husk of man who offered to provide food and shelter in exchange for “a little light work.” The naturally affable Vaneigem was tasked with distracting Korvosian merchants while fellow captive youths picked their pockets. Deeply ashamed of these transgressions yet unable to escape Lamm’s clutches, Vaneigem soothed his troubled conscience in Korvosa’s seedy dockside bars, consuming tankards of Chelish ale and pipeloads of flayleaf in oblivion-seeking quantities.
Fatefully, the same taverns frequented by the young Vaneigem were also favoured watering holes for the clergy of Cayden Cailean, who preached a doctrine of emancipatory social and political struggle. Desperate to escape Lamm’s clutches and enthusiastic about this clergy’s shared love of strong ale, he quickly become one of their favoured disciples. Lamm soon grew suspicious of his captive’s increasing absences, however, and discovered Vaneigem’s enthusiasm for the faith after following him to one such sermon. The subsequent beating Vaneigem received at the hands of Lamm brought the young dwarf to the very threshold of death, across which he surely would’ve slipped had his shattered body not been discovered by his newfound friends in the gutters of the Old Docks.
Vaneigem was whisked outside of the city walls to a community of wood nymphs allied in with the church of Cayden Cailean. While he convalesced, Vaneigem grew strong convictions in the central tenants of the loosely-organized and entirely leaderless faith. After years of captivity he was receptive to the church’s insistence that existing forms of institutional authority were in fact structures of oppression and fonts of injustice, against which it was only moral to rebel. Seeking penance for his sins, Vaneigem fervently accepted the doctrine that salvation entailed a struggle to emancipate his fellow beings from their subjugation. He was swayed by the wood nymphs’ insistence that bourgeois rule is supported by a moral code which sees existing structures of authority as natural and bodily pleasure as sinful. In his eyes, transgressing this code and the false consciousness it engendered were concomitantly vital with armed insurrection as steps towards spiritual transcendence and political emancipation.
Passing into adulthood and increasingly caught up in proselytizing excursions across the Korvosian backcountry, Vaneigem has become increasingly adept at subverting existing social codes, particular regarding carnal indulgences. He seeks to enlighten his flock through the ecstasies of wine, dance, and orgiastic pleasure. After rejecting gender and race-based identities as categories of oppression, he now ceases to discriminate along these lines in his choice of lovers – salvation is extended to all beings with the capacity for good deeds in the eyes of Cayden Cailean. Acknowledging that not all oppression can be fought with love, however, Vaneigem has also steeled himself for the inevitability of armed conflict and is eager to bring death to tyrants. With this doctrine in hand, Vaneigem returns to the docks of Korvosa to spread the gospel of his deity and to find salvation, beginning in the very grounds of his former enslavement – the fetid docks favoured by Gaedren Lamm.