The Trouble with Uncle Barry
Stacy Palumbo's parents died before the age of ten. Her uncle, Barry, would adopt her an raise her. Barry was a real estate mogul that had some rather seedy dealings. It was through Barry that young Stacy met Argent the Wolf. Barry had contacted Argent claiming to be able to set up the masked criminal known as Grendel. Stacy walked in on their meeting and, despite Argent's terrible form, was smitten with the great Wolf. Stacy and Argent's relationship would continue to blossom over time. Argent would make regular trips to the Palumbo's estate to visit and play with Stacy.
It was also through Barry that Stacy met Hunter Rose, whom she was also quite fond of. Stacy considered both Rose and Argent family members, referring to both of them as "Uncle." Rose, who was secretly the masked crime lord Grendel, poisoned Barry at a party, knowing that Barry was planning to double cross him. What he did not plan for was Stacy first finding the body. When Stacy came upon her uncle's body she screamed. When Rose got to her she was in a state of shock. Rose cared for Stacy, and had to do something to help her. With Stacy unconscious he changed into Grendel and attempted to leave the estate with her. In the Palumbo's gardens he was met by Argent the Wolf, who was coming after Barry himself because Barry had ordered a botched attempt on Argent's life. Seeing Grendel kidnapping Stacy enraged Argent and the two battled.
While Argent and Grendel were fighting, Stacy was grabbed by a local pedophile who happened across her body. He ran back to his apartment with her. When Grendel finished the fight and caught up with the man he quickly ended his life, and brought Stacy back to the party. He left her sleeping in the gardens where she would be found unharmed.
Early Life with Hunter
Hunter Rose applied for custody of Stacy, and adopted her. It was a controversial adoption, because Rose was only eighteen years old himself, but he wrote a novel that paralleled the trial, My Little Chickadee, which influenced the public in his favor. Her relationship with Argent was not terminated at this point. Rose and Argent had become bitter enemies, and Rose wanted to keep the Wolf close to him. Argent would visit Stacy regularly, particularly when Rose was out of the house. He often told her stories which were thinly veiled metaphors for his struggle with Grendel, but she took them innocently and loved them. He was like a giant, living stuffed animal to her. She told him stories too, in which she imagined marrying Hunter. Rose would occasionally interrupt these visits to drop subtle hints about their upcoming social engagements in order to ensure that Argent would also attend.
At one such engagement, Rose had maneuvered Argent in a way that he would be publicly humiliated in front of the media as well as Stacy. Argent attacked what he thought was Grendel, and fell through a skylight, plummeting multiple stories. Stacy was never able to get over this image, and her relationship with Argent waned and then disappeared. Rose tried to keep Stacy engaged, teaching her chess and strategy, but she was in a depression without Argent. She began to revolt against his philosophically-minded and rigidly-disciplined chess lessons, which were simply not aimed at the heart of a young girl.
They did still enjoy some walks in the park, where she would make up stories about rabbits. There and then, they still felt a close relationship. More important than anything, Hunter made her feel safe.
It is clear, however, that while Hunter wrote very positively about their relationship, calling her an angel and a lamb, and while his writings formed the public's opinion of them, that he actually never really knew how to deal with the life of a normal child, and their relationship was sometimes fraught by her frustration with his ideals. He would bring her to adult parties with no other children, and expect her to be interested in haute cuisine and society affairs. She would often sit around their apartment, alone and bored. When she wanted to watch cartoons, he indulged her for a moment, then ripped out the cable. He didn't invite any children to her birthday party, only himself and his consigliere Larry Stohler; then he left on Grendel business and left her with Larry. When she asked for pets, he only gave her stuffed animals over and over again. She eventually took out her frustrations on her stuffed animals, ripping them apart. She became obsessed with spiders, which Hunter described as solitary and serene.
Rose continued to conduct his Grendel affairs at home, mostly after he had put Stacy to bed. One evening when he and Larry Stohler were enacting a plan to take over crime across the entire seaboard, Stacy overheard Rose speaking as Grendel. The name didn't mean much at the time, but she knew when she heard him speak as Grendel that he was a different person, the softness in his voice replaced with a colder, darker tone.
Later, after doing her own research, Stacy began to realize what Grendel truly was. She followed Rose's actions more carefully, and eventually learned where his safe was located. After much study and work she located a device that would help her crack his safe, providing her access to the darkest corners or Rose's life. It was her in Rose's journals that she would come to realize that it was her "uncle Hunter" that had murdered her actual uncle Barry. This left Stacy in a state of depression yet again, something that Rose assumed was still due to the loss of Argent. He hired a nanny to watch after Stacy, but she wanted to remain close to Rose. While they were out for a stroll one day Stacy pushed her nanny off a pier. The nanny could not swim and drowned.
Stacy used her access to her Uncle's notebooks to plot against him. Since, in her eyes, Argent was still something she abhorred, she decided that she would use Argent as a tool of revenge in Hunter Rose's destruction. She phoned in anonymous tips to Argent at the police station. Argent, now seemingly able to predict Grendel's every move, carved through Grendel's criminal empire. This caused Rose to become bitter and paranoid, not understanding how Argent could seemingly predict his moves before he even made them.
Her plans came to fruition when one day, as Stacy and not the informant, she called Argent's private line screaming and crying that Grendel was kidnapping her. She gave Argent the location of one of Grendel's places of business as where Grendel had taken her. Argent massacred almost everyone that was there and sent the one survivor back to Grendel to contact him. Grendel furiously called Argent, and the two decided to meet once and for all on the roof of the Masonic lodge. On that fateful evening Stacy made herself a glass of hot cocoa before putting herself to bed. She paid special attention to getting it right, spending a lot of time fixing the ingredients just-so. It has scalding hot, and she burned her hands, but ignored the pain. Later that night, she brushed her teeth until they bled.
Rose was there waiting when Argent arrived. What happened on the rooftops remains somewhat of a mystery, however the police found Argent after the battle, badly wounded and with his spine damaged, paralyzed. They also found the dead and unmasked body of Grendel: Hunter Rose.
Therapy and a New Man
Argent went into seclusion. The police knew that something was wrong with Stacy and she was institutionalized at Summerlea Hills Home, an exclusive upstate facility. Her time there was paid for by her inheritance from Barry Palumbo. She was under the care of Dr. Erik Olliver.
Her time there was traumatic and confused. She was very withdrawn and lonely and emotionless. Barry and Hunter had never really known much about raising a girl, and hadn't even warned her about menstruation, so her first period was unexpected and panic-inducing. It only continued what she saw as a pattern of male error that led to blood and shame.
She started to become fixated on her therapist. She believed Olliver's eyes kept changing color, symbolically reflecting the situation. Stacy started dressing up to catch Olliver's eye, and succeeded in doing so. He returned her affection in a way that wavered between a positive, friendly tone, and a creepy, predatorial tone.
She told him about her positive relationships with Hunter and Argent. It became clear that she killed Grendel because he "killed"everything she loved. He actually killed her Uncle Barry, but in her mind he also destroyed the version of Hunter Rose that she loved--i.e., the Grendel persona took up so much of Hunter's time that he no longer had time to spend with Stacy. And he killed Argent, in her mind, when he sent him falling through the skylight. After that, she empathized too strongly with his shame and he became loathsome to her.She was angry with Hunter for never treating her like a little girl, always talking about chess and gourmet food. But she was equally angry with her nanny for treating her like a little girl. When Olliver asked whether she had killed the nanny, she couldn't decide even in her own mind if she had pushed her, and said she didn't know she couldn't swim. Still, it was clear that Stacy wanted her out of the way.
She talked more about how she used to always have horrible dreams as a child about the men in her life who pretended to be something they weren't: Barry, Hunter, Argent. When she killed Grendel, she slept peacefully for the first time in a long time. After that, she no longer dreamed...but she also no longer slept. She finally admitted to Olliver that she hated Hunter for turning her into a cold, heartless, hateful monster. She saw herself as belonging to the devil.Having been denied her childhood, she liked it at first when Olliver started calling her "his little girl," a warped role that she accepted. She started to feel like she was in love with him. They married.
On their wedding night the doctor violently raped Stacy in a horrible incest fantasy in which he was her father. It's unclear whether he had always been so twisted, or whether his proximity to the legacy of Grendel changed him from a good man to a perverted one. While she shivered in their bed, he hung himself in the shower.
The Final Years
Back in the institution Stacy decided that she would have the baby, and managed to cling to some semblance of sanity until it was delivered. This baby was Christine Spar. After she was born, Stacy refused to hold her, and put her up for adoption.
After the delivery Stacy's grip on reality began to fade. She wrote and drew imaginative stories about Grendel, including one in which a Dire-Imp influenced the life of Hunter and herself.
She was often visited by a black cat with a vertical scar over one eye, whom she eventually befriended. She sometimes imagined it was Argent, and sometimes Grendel. After many years, Christine came to see her; the boundary between fantasy and reality was so weak for her that she remembered two different version of Christine's fist visit, one angry and one friendly.
She continued to have issues with wanting to be a little girl herself, and having a young girl of her own. She rejected her women therapists as she had rejected her nanny; she would only have relationships with men, terrible as those relationships were. She perversely saw any attempts to take her pain away as rape, and suppressed her actual rape.
Christine visited again when she was pregnant with her son, Anson. She asked for the journals of Hunter Rose, which Stacy had in her keeping. Stacy gave them to her, and Christine eventually wrote a book about Grendel. As Christine Spar became obsessed with Rose, she slowly became a new Grendel herself.
By giving up the journals, she gave up the pain that fed her life, and she died on February 11, 2020. Argent watched her funeral from a distance.