"I don't care what happens to me - how many things I have to endure - I absolutely can't hate anyone. I may not trust them, I may see that they do bad things… but I can't hate them."
Mahdi was born in the Above Realm to the Clares, an upper-middle-class family with no particular renown. Though Mahdi's conception was accidental, his mother and father, Melika and Orion, never treated him as unwanted -though they didn't keep it a secret from him that he was a surprise. Mahdi's sisters, Eleanora and Fayra, were 23 and 21 when Mahdi was born, and already out of the house and busy with their careers and social lives. Thus, they treated him a lot more like a nephew than a pesky little brother, more than happy to babysit him, spoil him, and lavish him with attention. Mahdi grew up loved and adored by his family, who never gave him a hard time about being clumsy and a little bit on the stupid side. They saw that Mahdi had a good heart, and assured him that was his strong point, the thing that would see him through everything.
Mahdi was a B-and-C average student in school, spending more time on playing than studying. His best friend was a boy named Kirayoshi. As they grew older, Kirayoshi developed a huge crush on his innocent friend and constantly tried to drop hints about his feelings or ask his friend out on dates, even to prom. Time and again, Mahdi unwittingly rejected his friend, not understanding the seriousness of his feelings and treating it all like a game. Kirayoshi grew to resent Mahdi's carefree ways, particularly since he never seemed to reflect on the feelings of others, in spite of wanting to go into service for lesser mortals as a career. He grew bitter over how Mahdi breezed through life completely free of any heartbreak or failure, doted on by his family in spite of his idiocy and frivolity.
When Mahdi turned 18 and graduated from high school, he immediately put in his application to become a Redeemer, becoming the first in several generations of the Clare family to take a job serving the Middle Realm. His first assignment was a sixteen-year-old lesser mortal named Michael, whose mother recently died of a sudden illness. As a Redeemer, Mahdi's job was to help lighten the boy's soul at a critical time of darkness. That way, when the soul departed the body at death with the help of a Reaper, it would be light enough to be reincarnated into a better life. Michael couldn't see or hear him but might occasionally feel his presence, or even Mahdi's love and protection, which he expressed at critical moments by speaking to him, singing to him, or even hugging him - or by performing small blessings and changing his luck temporarily.
But Michael was more troubled than initial reports led to realize. Kirayoshi had taken a job as an Investigator and was the one to observe and write the reports on Michael's state of soul and mind. Knowing that Michael was going to be assigned to Mahdi if it wasn't too serious, he deliberately toned down the seriousness of the boy's condition, setting up his friend to fail so he could learn a lesson in hurt feelings.
The truth was that Michael was intensely disturbed due to emotional abuse from his mother. Mahdi, not quite understanding the situation, but very empathetic to Michael's pain, filled out the paperwork for a small miracle, allowing Michael to cross paths with a stray but very friendly and trusting kitten. To Mahdi's logic, Michael would nurture and care for the animal and gain a new insight on life, maybe even a career path toward animal care - and this would have worked if Michael was only experiencing the trauma of grief, rather than being driven by something darker. Though at first Michael seemed to enjoy caring for the kitten, he was annoyed by all of its needs and demands and angry at it for being so helpless (like he had been with his mother). When his foster family moved away, he left the kitten behind at the old house, where it eventually starved to death. Mahdi could do nothing to help it, or keep Michael from making such a choice.
Mahdi was understandably troubled by Michael's carelessness for another living being, but chalked it up to him not being right in the head due to grief. Later, he observed Michael crying and feeling remorse over being cruel to his makeshift pet. He would often revisit his memories of the kitten and feel tremendous guilt. Mahdi hoped this indicated his soul would soon lighten, and that he would never make that sort of mistake again.
Sadly, the opposite happened. Michael's anger toward his mother led him to treat women like toys, descending into an alcohol-numbed spiral of meaningless sex. One day, he raped one of the girls he was dating, furious with his refusal of his advances. Many Redeemers wold have seen Michael as untenable at that point and abandoned their posting, but Mahdi stayed at Michael's side, watching him as his world fell apart from the guilt and remorse of what he'd done. He prayed and swore it would never happen again. Though he never admitted his guilt to anyone, he mostly gave up drinking, and it seemed to Mahdi his soul would soon be lightened.
Mahdi was wrong. In spite of his Redeemer's attempts to help lighten his soul, Michael's behavior spun out of control. He couldn't control his anger and possessive desire for women and raped two more over the course of a year. Each time the remorse was so bad he nearly killed himself, and he prayed for guidance and help, which Mahdi tried to provide any way he could in spite of being warned by his superiors to abandon such a worthless cause. By his third victim, Michael was reaching a breaking point, unable to deal with the guilt and self-loathing of his own actions. Mahdi did his best to emotionally project and push Michael to turn himself in so he could get the help he needed, and he was very, very close to doing so when a Below Realm man named Nolan approached him with another way to cope: sell his soul and he could have any wish in the world he wanted granted, and on top of it, he'd never feel that useless guilt and remorse anymore. Though Mahdi begged Nolan not to interfere, Nolan completed the transaction and extracted Michael's soul. After Michael's soul became property of Nolan, and therefore of the Below Realm, Mahdi had no choice but to return home.
Though Kirayoshi came clean about sabotaging Mahdi's first mission, Mahdi was reprimanded for ignoring the advice of his superiors. He was given a month's paid leave, during which he suffered an uncharacteristic depression. He was plagued by nightmares about what he witnessed, and guilt over what he saw as a failure to save Michael. He began to question the system like he never had before, and wondered if it might just be better to let humans make their own decisions, if their choice was going to be to sell their souls anyway. What right did they have when something like (what he saw as) a misunderstanding between he and Kirayoshi could produce such effects? On the other hand, Mahdi wanted very badly to do good work in the world, and wanted to believe that people in the Above Realm were rightly guided. He wanted the approval of the people he'd always lived and worked with, and to see the system he put his faith in his whole life was correct. Conflicted and weak due to little sleep, Mahdi was in danger of becoming bitter, even switching over to the Below Realm.
So his bosses suggested that he should indeed fall. They saw he needed a way to contribute uniquely, and answer some of his questions about the value of lesser mortal souls. He would function as a mole, joining one of the gangs in the Below Realm and learning the techniques of Reapers that fueled the illegal soul trade. By learning the technique of these 'demons,' workers in the Above Realm would have better tools to understand why so many souls in the Middle were being snatched and hopefully make more gains in preventing it. Telling the mostly-truthful story of his loss of a human soul and consequent loss of faith in the system, Mahdi's unusual work ethic got him scouted by a Below Realm crime syndicate called Ammut.
Mahdi met his partner Naumu quite on accident his first day at Ammut Syndicate. He mistook Naumu for his brother Nolan, only to find out Nolan was dead, punished for crossing the Syndicate. Curious about what kind of person Nolan's brother was, Mahdi asked for Naumu to be the person who showed him the ropes. He even crashed on Naumu's couch while he looked for his own place. He liked Naumu a lot and admired the man's Reaping skill, even if it was a sort of frightening power.
After getting along with Naumu for about a week or so, Mahdi made a shocking discovery. While researching what happened to Michael's soul after Nolan extracted it, he found out that Naumu consumed it. Since then, Naumu has been the unwitting recipient of Mahdi's 'revenge.' On mornings he's had a nightmare about Michael, he'll put salt in Naumu's morning cereal, or throw a red sock in a laundry load of whites. It's grown to be some kind of weird waltz between them, since Naumu has no idea what he's done to raise Mahdi's ire and Mahdi never acts angry about anything. When asked why he pranks Naumu, he'll say it's just friendly hazing, and is hurt when Naumu says they're not friends, just random people forced to work together.
Description of character personality.
Important relationships and connections.