Thomas Steamwell Character in Cathedris | World Anvil

Cathedris Themesong

Thomas Steamwell

Thief with a heart of gold and an unending streak of bad luck

Things could certainly be worse.
— Thomas Steamwell, thinking to himself
  Thomas is a roguish young man from Thansa City who seems to be adept at landing himself in one mess after another; orphaned in his early teens, forced to survive in the festering core of a massive metropolis ever since, he would steal whatever he needed from those who needed it less in order to survive. He's not sure of his true age -- his parents never told him before they passed. He's never really cared to find out his actual age though, as he prefers give whatever age makes the most sense at the time when asked.  
His relatively small frame and athletic build are perfectly suited to the streets he made a living on; squeezing through crowds and clambering up the sides of dilapidated old buildings that are long past the point of being condemned were daily activities in the life of a master street thief.
Could definitely be better, though.
  Much better.
— Thomas Steamwell


Thomas never really talks about his parents much; truth be told, he doesn't remember a lot about them. They emigrated to Kazcallen with Thomas when he was quite young, but his father's promised job that enticed them to move here fell through as soon as they reached the city. They were forced to move into the group housing buildings; old and run down brick structures, 4-6 storeys tall, sub-let so many times that your money probably changed hands 6 times before it reached the purse of whoever actually owned the unit.
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Somewhere in his early 20's
Hair Colour
Reddish brown, Rust coloured
Said to be 5' 6", actually 5' 4"
Home Town
Thansa City, Kazcallen
It was a brutal, difficult life, but Thomas still managed to make the most of it. The people that shared the cramped conditions of the building they all called home were like family to him, and sharing what little he had with them helped make the place feel just a little bit brighter, despite the gloom.   However one fateful day in Thansa City, Thomas made off with a prize that was more than he could handle; it was lifted from a mark that looked just like all the other rich assholes that drifted through town, who unfortunately turned out to be some rich Legion asshole instead. Inside the purse he lifted was coin, yes, but also an incredibly dangerous, incredibly important, vial of Weldwax; so important that Thomas has been running ever since, not once returning to Thansa city after that fateful day.

Where did he go?
The barge named "Rustheaven"
A small boilership with a young captain
Give him the remaining coin
Agree to work on the boat
Well ain't this a nice boat!
Shit, it's the Legion
They're still on our tail...
Let's do it.
Yes, but no.
For the love of gods, please, no, no!
I've never seen a God-husk this close before...
Head below deck
Some time later
Kill him
Hide in the hold
Abandon ship
Try to swim
The mob turns
The rowboat drops free
Russin all over again
Is that...?
Wait for the opportune moment
Cut him off before he gets here
Run till night falls
Confront the Officer
Where... What...
Thomas loved it here in Russin. He'd been living low-profile here for months, enjoying the sights, the incredible weather, the spray of ocean on his face as he walked the sea wall. If he could have his way, he'd stay and live in secrecy here forever. But, of course, the universe rarely ever cooperated with him.   He clambered over some crates and jumped down into a shadowy alley full of old fishing equipment. The air here reeked of rotting fish; still, not as bad as some of the places he's lived before. His bag bounced uncomfortably against his back as he moved quickly through the cramped space, being careful not to step in whatever that was on the ground -- the spot he was pretty sure the stench was coming from.  
  It didn't take him long to sneak his way into the dockyard proper. Fishing vessels, great big transport ships, pleasure craft... his heart rate increased when he noticed the Legion war vessel tied up at the far end of the dock. Thomas flipped the collar up on his dirty leather jacket and pulled his hat down -- he knew it made him look more suspicious, but he'd take looking "suspicious" over looking like "that red haired thief that stole weld-wax from the Legion" any day.
Ash Barklow had explained it all to him. Really, it was pure chance he even met them at all; after barely fleeing Thansa City with his life, and stowing away in the dark and terrifying cargo hold of a Booster Boat on its way back to Russin to recharge, he'd mostly been looking for somewhere to just rest for a bit. And, perhaps if the opportunity presented itself, he'd love to learn just what it is about this vial of... strangely... tempting... liquid... that has those Legion dregs so interested in getting it back.   He had picked a fairly non-descript coffee shop, bought a tea with the money he'd pick-pocketed on his way in, and sat in the darkest corner with his back to the wall, surveying the store. A few sips of tea -- it was good tea -- and a few deep breaths were in order. It was here, finally resting, that he happened to bump into Ash. They'd been loudly bragging about the extent of information found in their book store, the best in Russin they were proclaiming, when Thomas introduced himself. Surely the owner of a bookstore such as theirs would know a way to help him. He flashed the vial of brown liquid, truly not knowing what it was, and Ash had given him a terrifying stare -- they gripped his arm, took him back to their book store, Barklow's Books, and explained everything.  
  Of course that was days ago, before the Legion had found him and begun the chase again; right now Thomas had to focus on which boat he would approach to try and hitch a ride out of town with.  
"'Scuse me, cap!" Thomas hollered up at the heavy set man obviously running the show. He stood upon the deck of the large, well maintained barge. It was a massive, mostly flat ship, with a small structure at the end of it, where there were stairs down to the hold. He even spied a single rowboat hung off the back of it. For emergencies he guessed?   The captain was barking orders at people Thomas couldn't see, but they were probably somewhere on the deck of the ship preparing things. The captain didn't even look towards Thomas before responding. "Call me Captain or you're not stepping foot on this ship."   Thomas took the command in stride. "Yes sir, Captain sir!" he called back, with a grin. He took a step towards the barge, but the captain shouted out another order. "Stop!" Thomas's grin faltered.   "I don't give a rats-ass what you're running from, but I can tell you're a runner. You're looking for safe passage, yeah yeah, all that godshit. Don't care. All runners are good for is providing labour, or providing coin. You want up, you decide."   The captain was looking down at Thomas now. He had the bushiest eyebrows that Thomas had ever seen, and a moustache nearly equal in follicle quality. He gave a hefty wink and felt his trademark smile spread across his face again -- couldn't keep that gone for long.   "Righto Captain, I'll provide."
"Well now boy, don't you look like you're in a hurry to get somewhere fast with minimal questions asked, eh?"   Thomas loved when people assumed and applied a story to his actions. Meant he could play along with it and provide the answers they're looking for; even if this one was just a touch too close to the truth.   "Yesssir!" Thomas drew out the response, like he was nervous and trying to think of what to say next. He grinned sheepishly and scratched the back of his neck. "I uh, gotta get outta Russin for a couple o' days. May or may not have gotten caught up in a-- well, it's not a triangle cause there's more'n three of em. Love square? Either way they're all pissed and I'm looking to let 'em cool off for a bit."   The young captain laughed -- a good, honest chuckle. Thomas knew he'd won him over already.   "You're just in time, friend." He called to Thomas. He looked up at the black smoke pouring from his engine compartment on his ship. "She's all fired up and ready to go. You got about 2 minutes 'fore we leave -- if you're joining, I'd hurry up."   Thomas flung his bag up onto the deck of the boilership, and scrambled aboard after it.
Thomas deftly swung his backpack around in front of him, and made a show of digging around in it for some money. He'd had rather poor luck the last few days, and really did not have much cash to show for his efforts. His face scrunched up in visible effort while rummaging around, and he even stuck his tongue out for good measure.   Finally, with a flourish, he brought his hand out -- in it was a trio of coins. "Aha!" he proclaimed, proudly. "The remainder of my material wealth. 'Tis yours, Captain."   The burly man was unimpressed by Thomas's antics.   "Unless you want to spend half the time up on deck working like the rest of the freeloaders, you'll have to do better than that. You want the privacy of the hold? Then take out the rest of what you're hiding. I know your type."   Thomas sighed. This time his hand was quick, precise, like a surgical instrument as it deftly dove into his bag and returned with the remainder of his purse. "Alright, here you go."    
Thomas struck a pose, and flexed. "Put me to work!"   "Well see how much fun you're having when we're a week out at sea and you're covered head to toe in blisters." The captain waved Thomas aboard. "If you can't pull your weight, you pay up or you go overboard. If you start shit, you pay up and you go overboard. I run a tight ship, got it? Oh, and you get no say in where we're going. This ship does the loop between Russin and Point Apae, and it takes about 8 days each way."   Thomas heard the captain's words, and immediately dismissed them save for two -- Point Apae. He'd never been there before, but the idea of a mostly flat country surrounded on all sides by water made him a bit nervous. Still, he was reasonably certain he remembered that there's a pretty limited Legion presence there; so with that, it seemed to be his absolute best option.   He clambered aboard the ship, and began taking stock of his surroundings, doing his best to properly listen to the instructions this time. There were so many ropes, and so many rules for how to tie it -- he half hoped he'd be told to just mop the floors, but it didn't seem like that'd be the case. As he learned what to do, he cast his gaze over the boat, and out beyond, into the dockyard surrounding him.
Thomas knew next to nothing about boats. All of his time spent aboard them had been either as a child, long enough ago so that he remembered nothing of it, or just recently as he was stashed away in the cramped capacitor hold of a Booster Boat.   Still, the craft he now stood upon seemed pretty nice. "What's her name?" he asked the captain.   "Queen of the Seas!" came the energetic reply. As far as names go, it wasn't the worst he'd ever heard for a ship. Wasn't anywhere close to the best, either. But the captain seemed pretty excited about it.   Thomas was pretty sure the young man was similar in age to him, which made it all the funnier that he had been called "boy" upon meeting. They'd probably be pretty close companions, in any other setting. Maybe if the timing worked out, once they got to wherever it was that the "Queen of the Seas" was heading...   Thomas's daydreaming was cut short as he looked beyond the young man in front of him. There, briskly walking down the dock, was a Legion officer. He locked eyes with the intimidating man and felt cold.   The young captain reached out and put a hand on Thomas's shoulder. "Woah there, you okay?"
Thomas hesitated a full 5 seconds -- far longer than he usually does. He glanced at the captains eyes, and saw the masquerading bravado was gone from them, now full of concern for the stranger that had just boarded this boilership.   "I uh--" Thomas swallowed. Normally he was a lot more composed than this. "Listen, unless you want to piss off the Legion, I have to leave, now." Thomas turned and made to leap off the boat, but the captain held tight to his shoulder.   "Friend, that's some mighty weird love triangle-- er, square, that you've gotten yourself into." An absolutely wild look came over his face. "But I don't mind. And why yes, thank you for asking, I do want to piss off the Legion."   Thomas was entirely unable to protest as the captain pulled him towards the steering column of the ship, where he slammed a lever down and fully opened the throttle.   A mechanical roar echoed through the dockyard as the engine in the ship slammed into action -- the black smoke that was pouring out of the smoke stack earlier was now coming out like a hurricane.
Their escape out of the dock was as manic and unhinged as any escape could ever be.   The captain had essentially rammed or run over three different small wooden vessels, two of which had people in them. The heavy metal hull of the boilership didn't care what it hit, and they barely even noticed a difference in speed. They careened between larger metal vessels, more than once bouncing against them, denting both crafts. Loud and indignant shouts surely followed them across the water, but Thomas was unable to hear any of them.   Finally they made it out beyond the sea wall -- straight into the splendor of Sharenskus in full view, trudging towards them, under a kilometer away. But they couldn't enjoy the sight for long, as Legion quickships came screaming out from behind the sea wall; when they had launched, and how they'd caught up so fast, Thomas had no idea. He turned to ask the captain what they should do, but found him staring at Sharenskus with a look of awe and devilish cunning.   He looked at Thomas and smiled a wide, charming smile. "You ever hear of splitting the stride?"
Who hadn't heard of splitting the stride. It was one of the dumbest, most dangerous, most famous things you could possibly do near a god-husk. Similar to trying to catch a damn crystal shard from Qetzel like his cult so loved to do.   No one in their right mind would ever try such a thing.   Thomas grinned. He liked this guy.   "Lets do it!" He called with triumphant energy. The captain matched his grin, and opened the throttle once more.
Who hadn't heard of splitting the stride. It was one of the dumbest, most dangerous, most famous things you could possibly do near a god-husk. Similar to trying to catch a damn crystal shard from Qetzel like his cult so loved to do.   No one in their right mind would ever try such a thing.   Thomas frowned. He had really begun to like this guy, until now.   "That's a terrible idea!" He said, frowning. "Surely we've got other options?"   The captain's grin merely widened, and he winked at Thomas as he opened the throttle once more.
"No." Said Thomas.   "Yes!" Said the captain.   "Please, please no. It's suicide, you must know it's absolutely suicide to try." Said Thomas. He'd heard all the stories. He knew the failure rate. He had life to live still, damnit!   "It's only suicide if you fail, my boy!" The captain began to laugh, and cranked the throttle open to full.
I always thought his skin was pure white, but now that I'm up close, I see that it's actually marbled... Thomas was getting an up close view of Sharenskus, far closer than he had ever dreamed or wanted. The roar of the boilership's engine was actually finally drowned out by the crashing sound of water cascading around the God-husks legs as he trudged through the shallow ocean. Mist blanketed the area as ocean spray coursed upwards against Sharenskus's leading foot, and wave after massive wave rocked the comparatively small vessel as they careened right for the deadly titan.   Maybe we'll actually make it...? Thomas wondered. Sharenskus's lead leg was almost fully extended, and they were now within the thick of the spray that surrounded him. If they could just keep the pace a little bit longer... Another huge wave rocked the ship. Ocean water flooded up over the sides, nearly washing them both over. The captain swore, his grip had loosened on the throttle, but quickly opened it to full again. They'd lost some speed, but surely it'd be okay.   A shadow was cast over the ship as another wave nearly took them out. Once again, the vessel bled speed as it slowed down. Thomas looked up at the source; Sharenskus's other leg had caught up. With an almighty crash, it made contact with the boilership.   The last thing Thomas saw as he sank into the sea was Sharenskus's leg, rapidly disappearing into the gloom of the ocean.
Go again?
"Ah, safety, at last."   Thomas was surprised by how at-home he felt down in the belly of the barge. When he'd stowed away in the Booster Boat, it was agony; incredible heat, hard and uncomfortable surfaces everywhere, and there was no available space to actually lay down anywhere. He spent the entire trip crammed into a corner, contorted in a way he was pretty sure no body should ever move. Plus, even though he was reasonably sure that the Booster Boat was out of charge, he couldn't shake the worry that at any moment, the capacitor banks surrounding him would erupt into a massive electrical explosion. He'd heard the stories.   Here though, in the barge? This was like home. Too many bodies crammed into too small a space, nearly laying on top of one another in the darkness. The heat, rather than being artificial and far-too-hot, was made by many bodies in close proximity to each other. It was as if he was back in Thansa.   Thomas found an open-ish part of the hold, and curled up into it using his bag as a pillow -- he was more tired than he expected. All the running and fearing for his life today must have really taken it out of him. Amid the sounds of breathing and snores in the cramped space, as he felt the barge begin to sway as it left the dock, Thomas closed his eyes and tried to drift off to sleep.
A ferociously loud snore right next to Thomas's head woke him up -- as much as he enjoyed the sounds of other humans nearby when he rested, there were just some things you couldn't sleep through.   He sat up and looked around the dark room. Some people here and there were chatting quietly with their neighbours, working on repairing clothes, or eating whatever little food they brought along.   Thomas figured it was time to stretch his legs anyways. He wasn't sure how long he'd been out down there, but it was probably good to try and not sleep through the entire voyage. The room slowly shifted left and right as the waves rocked the barge; they've at least made it out beyond the sea wall, to where the waves were bigger.   As he made his way up the stairs and out onto the deck, his heart nearly stopped -- he quickly ducked back into the doorway he was about to exit, and prayed to any and all of the God-husks that no one saw him. Turns out they'd barely even left; it hadn't even been long enough for the Legion officer on board to finish searching the deck and head downstairs.
Thomas was much more of a runner than he was a fighter -- he excelled at getting into and out of tight places, as many times as required. He could scale almost any wall, and run for hours if needed.   Unfortunately, this was a barge out at sea, and he had very limited space to run. Protected by the darkness of the doorway, Thomas dug into his bag to grab the small knife he always carried with him. He'd never actually used it in a fight, only ever to peel fruit or carve obscenities into wooden things with -- but he figured it was his best option.   Knife in hand, Thomas left the shadows he felt so safe within; he'd have to make this quick. He watched the Legion officer move from deckhand to deckhand, briefly questioning them, staring at them intimidatingly, and then moving to the next. Once the officer had his back turned to Thomas, he began to creep forward.   Thomas raised his hand, and prepared to make a charge at the Legion man.   Suddenly, a large hand slapped his own; the knife skittered across the deck, and into the ocean. Strong arms gripped him tightly.
Thomas struggled fiercely against whoever it was that held him tight. He swung his head backwards as hard as he could, and connected with something solid -- he was rewarded with a pained grunt and a sore head. Stars floated across his vision, and he felt himself moving; he'd been picked up now.   His feet dangling in the air, he tried kicking at whoever was carrying him, but they either connected with air or glanced off his assailant's thighs.   Thomas saw that the Legion officer hadn't turned around yet, hadn't heard, or just simply ignored, the scuffle that was going on. Well, at least this person's not with the Legion, he thought with as much relief as he could in this situation.   Hair tickled the side of Thomas's head as whoever grabbed him leaned in close to whisper into his ear.   "Come onto my ship, not even paying me a respectable amount, and this is how you act? No, no I don't think so."   Thomas only had a moment to realize it was the Captain that'd grabbed him before the entire world spun, as he was tossed overboard.
"Just tossing some shit overboard, nothing to worry about sir." The Captains voice drifted down to the water.   If Thomas had been calm, he'd have realized that the Captain didn't reveal Thomas's existence to the Legion officer. If he was rational, he might have even thought that was nice.   But Thomas was neither of those things.   Thomas didn't know how to swim.   He opened his mouth to scream for help -- he didn't even care if the Legion officer caught him now, anything was better than this. But when he opened his mouth and inhaled, saltwater rushed in. He coughed, sheer panic suddenly filling his mind, and in his effort to lift his head above the surface and expel the water from his lungs, he forgot to swing his arms.   Thomas's head sunk below the waves for a moment, before his arms began to thrash at the surface, desperately trying to claw his way up. His face met air for a moment and he coughed up some seawater, but as he went in to draw the life saving air he needed, his mouth again filled with water. The sides of his vision began to go blurry and dark, and again his head bobbed below the waves.   This time, he did not resurface.
Go again?
Quick way to a shit death out there, Thomas thought to himself. He'd always been a runner, not a fighter. And if he couldn't run -- like out here on a boat in the middle of the ocean, with no where to go, then that means he'd just have to hide.   Where to hide where to hide where to hide...   The thought raced circles around his brain. There'd have to be somewhere good to hide... And yet, every door Thomas checked resulted only in wasted time, as he looked into sparse rooms with no proper cover inside. If he tried to hide in any of those rooms, the Legion man would simply have to open the door, and reveal Thomas awkwardly crouched in the corner of some shitty storage room.   He'd spent longer than he realized searching, because before he knew it, he could hear the heavy thudding of Legion boots making their way to the stairs above him. Thomas was really panicking now.   With no where left to go, he hustled back down into the main hold, where all the other people were still milling about or sleeping. He surveyed the group, looked for the largest pile of bodies, and then calmly as he could, made his way over and laid down with them.   He closed his eyes, hoped his rapidly beating heart didn't alert anyone, and prayed to remain unseen.
The authority in the man's voice made Thomas jump. This was someone who was used to being obeyed instantly. This was a man who had grown accustom to respect, fear, or both. This was the Legion officer, come to find him.   Any sort of grumbling or complaining was cut short as everyone turned to see the large officer with the Legion emblem emblazoned boldly upon his chest. The room was nearly silent aside from the shuffling sounds of every person standing up. Thomas thanked the gods, not for the first time, for his short height -- if he was lucky, he'd be able to remain hidden behind crowds of people, and the officer would miss seeing him-   "There is a small man with rust coloured hair hidden amongst you all. He has something valuable on him. Bring it to me, and you'll be rewarded by the Legion."   Thomas froze, and realized he'd taken his hat off earlier in order to sleep more comfortably. He very much wanted to reach into his pack and grab it out, but it was far too late, as all eyes near him turned to stare.
"I've done nothing wrong!" Thomas screamed. Endless hands grabbed at him, tearing at his hair, reaching for his bag. He twisted and turned, wriggled, and struggled his way through the mob of people. "Please!"   His cries fell on deaf ears; turns out he'd picked the wrong boat. Usually in any given crowd of people around this size, there'd be a significant portion of people that hated the Legion. Not this one, it seems -- either that, or everyone in here was just as desperate as Thomas was, and they'd take a handout even if it came from the poison fist of the Legion itself.   Fingernails raked his cheek as someone went for his face -- he spun and slapped the hands away as best he could, bumping backwards into an old woman. She began beating on him as best she could, slapping at Thomas, grasping at his arms. Thomas struggled and broke free -- there was an opening in front of him, he wasn't sure to where as any sense of direction was lost in the chaos of the dark and cramped hold, but he knew it was his only shot at freedom. He roughly shoved a man out of his way, and sprinted into the opening.   Searing pain blossomed in his abdomen as he ran straight into the officer's sword. Cold quickly followed, as he watched his life pouring out around the weapon. "Ah, shame." Said the Legion officer, reaching over Thomas to grab his bag. "Looks like no one gets the reward."
Go again?
It rapidly became clear to Thomas that getting on this ship was one of the largest mistakes he'd made.   He was a runner, not a fighter. There was no where to run.   When he couldn't run, he'd hide. There was no where to hide.   He couldn't even swim. But, what he could do, was row. Thomas remembered the rowboat tied off at the back of the ship that he saw before ever getting aboard this cursed vessel. If he could just sneak his way over to that...   He glanced out the doorway again. The Legion officer was facing away from him. The captain was near the side, chastising some poor worker. Now was his chance -- he darted out of the stairwell, and quickly swung left, getting behind and out of sight before anyone saw him.   The rowboat was strung up to some sort of strange wooden contraption Thomas had never before seen. The ropes were tied in intricate knots that hurt his fingers when he tried to untie them. After a few moments, he have up, and opened his pack.   Well, good thing I always carry a knife. Never know when you might need to use it like this. He thought, and got to work.
Thomas had no idea how the sound of the rowboat crashing into the water below didn't alert anyone aboard. Similarly, he didn't have the faintest clue how no one heard the heavy thunk that came when he fell into the escape vessel -- not realizing that the boat was a lot farther down than initially thought. Perhaps Sharenskus was smiling down on him, blessing his voyage. He could even see the massive twinheaded ocean God-husk; close enough to see the swarm of seagulls that flocked around him.   Either way, he thanked his continual good luck, and begun to row.  
  He hadn't thought he'd been that far away from the docks, but it had taken literal hours to reach them again, and the sun was now setting -- which in a way was another blessing. The long shadows cast by the lowering sunlight meant he'd have plenty of places to hide and sneak through, as he worked to figure out his next step.   Thomas stashed the boat in a dilapidated portion of the dock yard, tightened his pack, and found a place to rest for the night.
Thomas spent a long time wandering Russin again. He moved through district after district, keeping to the corners and spending hours inside abandoned rooms. For a while his path lead him down into the catacombs below the city -- he felt a strange mixture of being both safe, and incredibly vulnerable down there. Like the Legion would never find him, but someone, or some thing else might.   He quickly abandoned the underground tunnels and did his best to blend in with the crowds above instead. With his hat on tight, he was at least sure no one would pick him out of the crowd for his hair.
Ash had mentioned something in passing, when they were discussing the vial of Weld-Wax he had. They'd talked about how they know this information -- and who else knows it. At the time, Thomas had dismissed it -- all the talk of gods and secret organizations and the Legion dooming humanity had disturbed him greatly.
But now that the Legion was once again hunting him here in Russin... it was time to go pay Ash another visit.
Read about the Regiment
"Oh great..." Thomas groaned.   "What was that?" Came a quick reply. Thomas had interrupted the deck hand who was explaining to him the proper way to tie off the barge when coming in to port.   "Oh, uh, c- crates? What about crates?" Thomas thought fast. "Do we tie those down the same way?"   The deck hand looked at Thomas like he was an idiot. "Of course?" He shook his head. "New blood, worse than Rendling shit. Here, let me go over it again." The man bent over and began veeerrryy sloowwwllyy talking through the motions he was making as he tied a knot. Thomas used the opportunity to quietly get up, and go hide in the shadow of the doorway down to the hold.
Against every single instinct in his body telling him to run, to flee, to get out of there as soon as possible, Thomas waited.   While he heard the deck hands calling out for him, referring to him as the "idiot new blood", he shrunk back into the shadows of the doorway, praying he'd remain hidden.   When he heard the steadily approaching heavy thuds of the Legion boots on the dock, he knelt down to remain out of sight.   As he heard the authoritative voice of the officer yelling at the captain to prepare his vessel for boarding and searching, he crawled around to the far edge of the boat, hoping no one saw him.   When the Captain had the audacity to say the ship leaves in 10 minutes, whether or not the Officer's search is done yet, Thomas had made his way all the way around the far edge of the ship.   And as the Legion Officer began his questioning of the deck hands, Thomas leapt from the rear of the ship, landing on the dock, and began to sprint.
This was starting to get incredibly frustrating.   It had been like this the entire time Thomas was in Russin, trying to enjoy himself here in a new city. Each time he felt like he was free from his pursuers, they somehow magically turned up looking for him. He didn't know if it was pure coincidence that they kept finding him, whether they just had scores of operatives out in the city searching for him, or if somehow they had a method of roughly tracking his location.   Either way, Thomas was getting tired of it. It was time to get some answers.   Thomas swiftly walked to the edge of the barge, ignoring the protests of the deck hand that had just realized Thomas wasn't listening anymore. He merely nodded when the Captain told him there'd be no getting back on the ship once he left.   Thomas leapt from the barge and landed with a heavy thud on the dock -- way louder than he had anticipated. Also, he might have rolled his ankle. As he stood up slowly, he noticed he'd managed to draw everyone's attention to him.
"Listen, friend." Thomas started. He walked as confidently towards the Legion man as he could, considering he now walked with a limp. "I think it's 'bout time you and I had a little chat, yeah?"   Thomas was a few steps away from the Officer, and he raised his finger, pointing it directly at the intimidating man as he got closer. "I ain't done nothing wrong and it's time you assholes learned that."   Dull pain exploded across the back of Thomas's head, and the world went dark.
Thomas was aware.   But his eyes were not open.   And yet he could see. He could feel -- he felt wrong. He felt twisted, abhorrent, his skin was no longer his own skin. He could feel the otherness that joined with him.   His eyes were open and yet he could not see. Or rather, his brain rebelled against what it was that he saw. He saw horror. He saw his own skin stretched and molded and blended with that of hundreds others. A part of him felt content -- finally, joined. Finally part of the one.   The rest of him screamed. Or, it would have, if he'd had any control over that portion of his body anymore.   Somewhere, a voice echoed through the vast room that contained the horror Thomas was now a part of.   "All shall be woven into the holy fabric of the 15th."
Go again?

Cover image: by Nate Isaac


Author's Notes

Well, what ending did you get for Thomas on your first attempt? :D   Don't worry, we all know which one of these is the canon ending.

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Jul 31, 2023 14:22 by Dani

Every. Single. Time. You kicked Cathedris up another notch today--this branching tale touched on a few of the best horrors around here on an awesome, up close and personal level. I really like this poor guy! Suuuuuch savage bad luck! :D

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
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Aug 8, 2023 16:07 by Stormbril

Omg thank you so much Dani!! <3 He was a lot of fun to write, and I feel bad for giving him so many bad endings :D

Jul 31, 2023 22:01

I got this one: "The last thing Thomas saw as he sank into the sea was Sharenskus's leg, rapidly disappearing into the gloom of the ocean."   Cool story, I already wonder what else could have happened!

Check out my Summer Camp 2023 wrap-up here!
Aug 8, 2023 16:07 by Stormbril

Oh no! Poor Thomas xD And thank you!

Aug 1, 2023 21:10 by Aster Blackwell

I tried to split the stride. Alas, it did not work.

Aug 8, 2023 16:09 by Stormbril

Alas :(   I may or may not have had your comment from 'In the Festering Core of Thansa City' in mind when writing this, sorry for giving him so many dangerous places to go D: xD

Aug 8, 2023 21:00 by Aster Blackwell

I asked you to protect him and you did the exact opposite </3

Aug 9, 2023 16:26 by Stormbril

My bad :'( I couldn't stop him, he just was naturally drawn to all of these situations!

Aug 3, 2023 11:47 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I obviously tried to split the stride. It did not go well.   I love this article, it's great. <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Aug 8, 2023 16:11 by Stormbril

It just seems like such a great idea, until...   Thank you Emy! <3

Aug 4, 2023 15:43 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

I'm dead :( I love how we're all trying to split the stride despite the very predictable result XD

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Aug 4, 2023 15:57 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

I redid it a few times and I've managed to escape as well as to become part of the glorious 15th :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Aug 8, 2023 16:15 by Stormbril

Yay! The ending with the 15th was my favourite one to write >:D   I think once I'm able to edit this again, I might change the name of the "Rustheaven" to something else, it seems to definitely not be anyone's first choice of ships to board xD

Aug 8, 2023 06:25 by George Sanders

I should have read the comments before cheering the captain on to split the stride!

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Aug 8, 2023 06:31 by George Sanders

Lavani suggested leaning on friends. I should have listened to her. :)   "Thomas Steamwell slipped his hand into a pocket full of fate. Can you guide him to the next story?"

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Aug 8, 2023 16:16 by Stormbril

Ah, but what a glorious death it was!   Thanks for the read and comment, George! And Lavani!

Aug 8, 2023 13:11 by Chris L

Whenever you suggest that I split the stride, I will always go for it, even though I know it's always fatal!

See WorldEmber 2023 Hub for my WorldEmber progress.

Check out my challenge winning article: Ghost Boy.

Aug 8, 2023 16:18 by Stormbril

The prestige of being able to say that you've split the stride is simply too enticing to say no when the opportunity comes!

Aug 8, 2023 18:36 by Chris L

There has got to be a memorial in Russin somewhere to all the idiots who've tried to split the stride and died. With lots of empty spaces for future dead morons. When I went to Santa Cruz, there's definitely a "Dead Surfers Memorial" as you head down to the water!

See WorldEmber 2023 Hub for my WorldEmber progress.

Check out my challenge winning article: Ghost Boy.

Aug 8, 2023 18:44 by Stormbril

Omg, if there wasn't one before, there will be one now -- that's such a fun worldbuilding/memorial idea! Well, "fun" xD   Thank you for this idea, next time there's a prompt on a landmark or memorial (or if I get into the writing groove without a competition!), that's getting an article :D

Aug 8, 2023 18:51 by Chris L

Please add my name to the memorial when it happens! Last words = "I hope to found the Legion of Adventurers Under God-Husks, or L.A.U.G.H. for short! With my inaugural splitting of the stride, my name shall forever live in... oh shit!", that or, "Cowabunga, dude!"

See WorldEmber 2023 Hub for my WorldEmber progress.

Check out my challenge winning article: Ghost Boy.

Aug 8, 2023 18:52 by Stormbril
Aug 22, 2023 02:01 by Han

I forgot to like this the first time through because I got caught up in trying the mini adventure oop   This is brilliant x) He managed to get away first time for me, then I spent a while testing the other paths!

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
Aug 22, 2023 15:45 by Stormbril

:O   I think you're the first person to escape first try -- at least the first that has told me so!   And thank you!! This was so fun to set up >:D

Sep 2, 2023 02:03 by Tlcassis Polgara | Arrhynsia


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Feb 27, 2024 23:11 by Stormbril
Jan 22, 2024 04:24 by Reanna R

Haha, Thomas is on his way to the Regiment for Humanity! (And it was my first attempt! Glad I didn't have to see him die...he just hopped off a ship without having to split the stride, and for that I'm glad, because I don't want to see anything bad happen to this poor boy...)   Anyways, that little 'choose your own adventure' was absolutely amazing! Your articles are always not only fascinating to read, but a joy to experience as well.

May your worldbuilding hammer always fall true! Also, check out the world of the Skydwellers for lots of aerial adventures.
Feb 27, 2024 23:11 by Stormbril

Wooooo! Great work on that first attempt then :D   And thank you so much as well <3

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