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Character Name: Thomas (Tom) Marsh
Gender: Male
Age: 14
Grade/Homeroom Class: 1-C
Height*: 5'7
Weight*: 134
Birthdate: June 6
Blood Type*: A
Hobbies: Reading, mythology/occultism, philosophy, drawing/painting, computers, violin playing
Favorite School Subject: English (naturally)
Is your character a member of a team or club on campus?: Not yet, though will likely respond to an invitation

Appearance: Tom seems like a pretty normal American kid. Blond hair, a little on the messy side, every so often with a bit of stubble, and he tends to wear ordinary clothes extraordinarily well. His family was strict about appearance and neatness, and that leads him to tend to be relaxed with his clothing, leaving his top button undone and loosening his tie. He's never sloppy about it, but he doesn't like feeling overly formal. He's got a healthy build, and his metabolism is the stuff of envy- at least when it comes to appearance. He's tall for his age, but that's mostly his inhuman ancestry, he matures far more quickly than a human would. He wears a cosmetic contact lens for his left eye. Like many of those of his ancestry, he suffers from heterochromia- one eye bright blue, the other a sickly dull brown. The contact, naturally, goes on the brown eye. Naturally, he's extremely self-conscious of this.

Should he ever shift into his hybrid form, more of his inhuman heritage comes to the fore. Both eyes grow larger and more pronounced, becoming unblinking and fixed. His nose and ears shrink, almost becoming vestigial, while gill slits appear on his neck and webs connect his fingers. His torso stretches, and a second pair of arms erupts from it. Note, though, that they aren't positioned in a symmetrical way, rather one sticking more to the front and the other more to the back, as though his body should be shifting even more than it already is. Scales like armor grow around his chest and arms, and his legs also elongate, as do his feet.

Personality: At first blush, Tom would seem like just a sensitive artistic sort. He's gentle, soft-spoken, and intelligent. His sense of tolerance is almost ludicrously large, such that almost nothing fazes or disturbs him, and he maintains a phlegmatic optimism about almost everything. He's a good listener, a shy speaker, yet tends to be insightful and calming. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and his foreign awkwardness seems more endearing than annoying, most times. Every so often, he veers to the geeky pedantic side, whipping out a philosopher's quote or a historical factoid that tend to be accurate and interesting, but ultimately not at all important. He doesn't really mind that part. There's also, every so often, the risk of him falling into a Socratic dialogue, constantly pushing someone with questions, especially if Tom doesn't understand or he doesn't like what the other person thinks. He's generally gentle about it, but he's always one to get people to rethink themselves, to a point where it's almost instinctive for him.

Despite all of that, he knows- and hates- that he's an outcast. He's a lonely young man, with no social supports to speak of, and he's quietly desperate for approval and a sense of belonging.

Beneath that is a quiet, burning ambition, and a smoldering anger that he usually gives voice only in his drawings or his violin playing. He's never forgotten what happened to him, the pain and helplessness he once felt, and he's sworn to never be in that position ever again. He has no faith in authority figures or mentors, and he's constantly braced to be betrayed or abandoned. He will never forget such a thing, should it happen. In broader terms, he has a bitterness and pessimism that poisons his ambition, giving a caustic animosity toward the world in general. He plans only to rely on himself, and more importantly, to never be hurt again, which makes it difficult for him to open up enough to get true friendship, either. This can also lead to him being callous or exploitative, especially if he's written someone off.

Tom's also just a bit on the... odd side. Not usually enough to be off-putting, but certain musics or art pieces will completely arrest his attention, some astronomical events will have him completely enamored, and sometimes he speaks of odd things or asks bizarre questions. He'll usually regain himself and apologize to anyone who encounters him in such a mood, but he can't help it. Needless to say, he's quite self-conscious about those episodes.

This comes from his inhuman nature, and he's very, very self-conscious of it. While he's spurned a lot of things that his parents and friends in the Marshlands had said, he's fully bought into their mantra that outsiders can't understand them, and what they don't understand they try to destroy. Tom's terrified of someone finding out his secret, and more importantly, whipping up a mob to kill him. He doesn't have the resources to try to deal with that, so every day has a tinge of anxiety about his life.

Speaking of episodes, Tom is deathly afraid of deep water- 'deep' being anything that can go over his head- and especially the ocean and salt water.

Background: Tom Marsh began to live after he almost died. After being beaten nearly to death by all those who he loved and trusted, he was finally given a chance to be free of them, and so he did.

This all requires some explanation. Tom grew up in a 'quaint' Maine village, called- by the locals, at least- The Marshlands, both for its extensive saltwater marshes and for the family which had practically owned the place since the colonial era. Insular and strange, the village was characterized by a steady decay of its buildings and its inexplicable wealth. While very few functioning industries yet remained- certainly no more than was necessary for the people of the village- there was never a lack of gold and resources to take care of any necessities. It was also characterized by a religion not found anywhere else in the area- that of Echidna, the Mother of Monsters. That led to the third characteristic of the town.

It was the village of monsters.

Long ago, the first Marsh struck a bargain with the nameless horrors of the marshlands, offering blood and flesh in exchange for gold. The beings- called Primaevals by the villagers- agreed. What followed was a golden age... for those who survived, anyway. Worship of Echidna took over all others, all protestors or those reluctant to do business with inhuman monsters were promptly sacrificed, and soon The Marshlands were under the control of the Marsh family. Years passed, and life barely changed. Oh, there were upgrades every now and again, cars replaced horses and telephones and internet cables were laid, but generally they went unused, the people having no one to speak to outside of the village and no need for other means of communicating within it. Besides... as time went on, the promise of flesh to the Primaevals led to extensive inbreeding and mutation, such that some individuals simply couldn't show their face in public. Few even realized how odd their situation was, and it seemed like their lives would continue on forever.

Until Tom, and his older brother Lucas, actually made use of the internet access that the town had gotten in an attempt to seem normal. Until they realized that being isolated was odd, that no one believed in horrific monsters, that being taught madness-inducing magic wasn't part of any normal curriculum, and that the world was far different than they thought. Together, they decided to ask permission to leave The Marshlands, to leave the worship of Echidna, and to make their own way in life. Their parents took them to the meeting hall, and the town leaders had a talk with the boys.

Twelve hours later, Lucas was dead and Tom was begging for his life. His mother and father had watched on, his friends and everyone he'd respected had a hand in his beating, and he barely survived. The only flicker of compassion came from one worshipper, who feared that death would come, and called the next town's ambulance for help. The police came as well, and despite the Marshlanders trying to hide Tom and lying to the police, he was found and taken to the hospital. There, his slow recovery gave him time to further cement his desire to run, and perhaps more importantly, to plan out how he'd make it happen. With the aid of sympathetic officers, he returned to his home to to get his things, and also took his family's copy of the Tome of Deep Mysteries, a combination spellbook and bestiary that served as a cornerstone to the village's power. He then, in a stroke of luck, heard of an academy in Japan, which had... a rather accepting policy of those students with unusual problems. It took more than a bit of bluffing, and magic, to convince everyone that he should go there, but in the end, he managed it. Barely.

Does your character have any kind of unusual powers?: Being, in essence, a Lovecraftian horror trying to deny that part of himself, Tom naturally has no powers of his own. He has no great strength, his heritage doesn't give him any unusual abilities in his human form, and while he may be sensitive to spiritual presences, he can't see spirits or directly interact with them.

That said, the one gift he does have is for magic. The 'mysteries' he draws from his family's spellbook essentially warp reality, giving a variety of effects he can do. For example, he can heal, he can speak in other languages and enhance his natural talents, he can enchant items, he can create magic barriers, he can undo the magic or spiritual effects of others, and he can summon creatures and bind them to his will. His more offensive-type spells tend to be indirect- instead of blasting with magic bolts, he seizes loose objects and flings them. Instead of burning with fire, he withers with curses. Instead of overpowering a monster, he tends to try to compel them, attack their minds, or strip away their supernatural powers and defenses, putting them on a more even level. In general terms, his magic is meant to solve problems and remove difficulties... or create difficulties for others.

The problem with mysteries, and why they aren't commonly used, is that their great versatility in potential comes with great restrictions on execution. For example, the average mage can store magic and use them as a shortcut, or create enchantments and then no longer worry about them. Tom can't easily do that. Each mystery requires the use of at least one hand- the more powerful and esoteric ones requiring both- to maintain and control them, which means he can never have more than two mysteries going at a time. If he's summoned and bound a monster, he has only one hand to protect himself, or attack, or try to dispel a spell coming at him, and he can't do all of them at the same time. If he throws a dread curse that requires both hands, he's extremely vulnerable to a counter-attack.

The reason for needing the use of a hand is that these mysteries are all ritualistic in nature. While he can grab and throw one object after another once he has the right mystery enacted, enacting it requires a specific series of somatic gestures, taking time to cast and attention to maintain. A side-effect is that, when confronted with a new problem, it takes him some time to draw the right tool from the proverbial box. Naturally, larger-scale mysteries and rituals require much more preparation and effort, and while their effects can be impressive... they can also be stopped more easily than normal magic can. This goes especially for those rituals which he imbeds in an object or area. While that frees up his hands for other mysteries, the object he puts it in is always twisted and warped by the casting, making them fairly easy to find. When destroyed, the entire mystery collapses.

The last problem comes from the fact that mysteries are exactly that, mysteries. They weren't meant for humans to know and use, and their usage is alien to a normal mind. To use them, Tom essentially has to deform his own thoughts, which is easier for him than it would be for a full human, but it also leaves him extremely vulnerable. His mind becomes fragile and easily manipulated or damaged, and he becomes even more vulnerable to possessions or magic which hits his mind. To put it simply, if he uses a lot of mysteries, he'll lose his connection to reality, and more worrisomely, he'll likely become twisted by the Academy, even becoming a pawn of it, like so many other monsters in the area.

As an aside, mysteries also tend to have... unusual side-effects. The most obvious one is the spell for understanding language. Known as "The Mystery of the Mother Tongue," it essentially manipulates the minds of those who hear his words, making it understood in their mother tongue, just as he speaks in his, English. Generally, that means that he'll be understood in Japanese. However, if someone else has Japanese as their second language, they'd hear Tom speaking in their first, which could cause quite the confusion.

Living Situation: Tom stays at the student dorms.

Relation: Tom is, at his best, a gentle and encouraging friend, who can bring out the best in anyone. He'll listen to someone complaining about their love lives, to them rambling on about their latest projects, to just talking about anything, always with good humor and attention paid. Especially for those who tend to be friendless or difficult to deal with, he can be a fairly reliable fallback option. He can also be relied on to make characters question themselves and perhaps confront parts of themselves that they might not want to, without feeling judged or threatened by it. He tends to be able to see through fronts and get past the mystery of someone's facades and personas, at least over time, and he's not one to just keep things on the surface when it's someone he's interested in.

At his worst, Tom can become the nemesis and villain of the Academy. His anger and desire for power can lead him to doing things he'd normally never do, and his powers can make other characters feel the full weight of the Academy, and catalyze even worse things in it.

In any case, Tom is deliberately set as ending up with a wide variety of potential interactions and relationships. He could form deep friendships or deep enmities, he could become a protector to some and an enemy to others, and chances are about even that he'll end up as a horrible monster or as a hero who grows beyond his scars and pain and becomes a strong ally and friend to the human side. It's also possible to have both- Tom's shown a great deal of ability to change and adapt, and redemption is certainly as much a possibility as oblivion.

The best way to explain it is that Tom is malleable. Anyone who interacts with him for a decent length of time will have an impact on him, and hopefully, vice-versa.

Of all the problems he might have in Kikuryou Academy, this was not one that he'd anticipated. What school had a swimming pool? Honestly? And yet there it was, staring at him with a malevolence that felt almost palpable. It wanted him to jump in. It wanted him to get in so it could drag him down and... No. That was ridiculous. And yet... yet Tom felt it anyway. His skin crawled just at the thought of diving in, but what other option did he have? The other members of his class were getting in, and if he didn't change and join them, he'd stand out even more than he already did. That could only be a disaster. Tom remained frozen in place. He couldn't dive in, yet he couldn't stay. How should- "Marsh, what's wrong?" The young man looked up, to see his P.E. teacher looking at him with concern. And using the wrong name, no less. Now Tom was really in a mess. On one hand the murderous swimming pool, on the other an authority figure. His skin crawled again, but he forced a smile on his face. Never show weakness, never show fear. Not to someone who could exploit it. "A-ah, I just... don't know how to swim." The teacher looked like he'd just been told he'd won the lottery. "You don't!? That's just fine, I'd love to teach you! Just come in with me!" Of course he'd want to do that. Of course he'd want to drag Tom into the depths, make sure that he couldn't escape. That was one thing Tom couldn't do. One thing he couldn't risk, no matter what. So, in desperation, he shouted, "I-I don't feel well, please excuse me!" And with that, he ran. Ran as fast as his feet could take him. He didn't know where he'd go- maybe the nurse's, but would she back up his story?- but he was away from the pool. That was the important thing.


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Thomas Marsh

January 2016


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