Delinquent Condition in The Broken Path | World Anvil


I looked into his future, and I saw darkness.
— A diviner describing a delinquent client, Espanha, 1713
Every life in the world is born with an expiry date. The moment a baby takes its first breath, fate has already decided when it will take its laster. The soul cat knows the specific time that they must be at their human's side to take their soul, although they cannot - or will not - communicate this to humans.   Even humans, though, can figure out a rough idea. A baby born with a kitten is not going to live past childhood, and someone with an elderly cat is sure to reach old age. Every now and then, however, a person will just... not die when they were supposed to. Their soul is past-due as they linger in the world in a state of limbo.


Anything that causes a person to not die when they are supposed to will cause delinquency, but there are two causes that are most common:
  • Their cat did not show up at the scheduled time, likely because it got separated from its human and was unable to catch up in time. This extra time might give the person longer to receive medical aid or recover from an illness.
  • The person made choices that led them to not being in the right position to die when scheduled. The Arbitrium Church uses this as a key evidence that humans possess free will as they occasionally make choices that go against their assigned fate.
A person will only die when their soul leaves their body, and a soul will only leave the body when the soul guide takes it out. Without your cat (or other animal in other cultures), a person cannot die. There are stories of people being beheaded, and their head remaining alive and talking for hours afterwards as they awaited their cat's arrival.


The most notable symptom to a delinquent person is that they now have one foot in the door of death, so to say. While most people are blind to the ethereal world around them unless they are Sighted or have recently ingested Ghost Vine, a delinquent person can see ethereal activity at all times. This includes ghosts, soul guides in their ethereal forms, and any items made ethereal through long exposure. This includes all the senses - they can hear the voices of soul guides or physically interact with ghosts.
Beyond the abilities of a Sighted person, a delinquent person has some extra perks. They will never develop medical genetic conditions. They can still catch pathogens in the air, but they will not develop, for example, cancers or tumours. They are at no risk of strokes or heart attacks. They can still be killed by external events, such as physical trauma. In fact, a large number of delinquent people end up dying by animal attacks for some reason. No one knows why, but they are often found after being mauled by something that seems wolf-like.   What other people most notice is that they are unaffected by fate. They are, as it were, "off the map". Diviners can't see anything in their future, and any interactions they have with someone else can best be picked up as a blur.
Delinquent or Unbound?
The two conditions have much in common. The most noticeable difference is that a delinquent person still ages and can be killed. Delinquent people still have all human functions like sleeping and eating, and are generally less feared by society. Additionally, Unbound people may not have passed their designated death yet. Delinquent means you are overdue for death; Unbound means a supernatural process has occurred to cut you off from fate.

Cultural Reception

Delinquent people are generally mistrusted and persecuted. In France, and several other Arbitrist countries, it is illegal to be delinquent. Someone who has out-lived God's plan for them is dangerous, as they have no fate to follow and could throw a wrench into destined events. For this reason, all delinquent people are required to report to a church. The church will request that the person committed suicide to correct their thread of fate, but will not execute them if they have not committed any crime. Instead, delinquent people will remain under close supervision in the custody of the church, where they will be put to work doing any task needed. If no work is needed, they will be imprisoned indefinitely.   Even in countries where the government does not actively persecute them, delinquent people face hardships. This is especially true for people who were supposed to die as children, because their status as delinquent is obvious at a glance. Any adult with a kitten has obviously outlived their destined death.   Employers do not want to hire them and landlords are unwilling to rent to them. After all, they could die at any moment with no general idea of how many more years they have to live, so why invest in a shot in the dark? They rarely have luck romantically, because once delinquent they are nobody's soul mate and not seen as worth a committed relationship. They find themselves kicked out of taverns, stared at on the street, and frequent victims of crime. Because it is impossible to look to the Tapestry to confirm if a delinquent person's thread of fate has been in contact with another and some hint of the interaction - a prime piece of evidence in many trials - many jurisdictions simply refused to look into crimes where a delinquent is the victim.   All of this is worse in regions where they are considered legally dead, and thus have no more rights than a corpse.   In this culture of nonacceptance and persecution, the criminal organization Phantom's Hand was formed in France. To delinquents, they are freedom fighters that provide a community and safety for people whose only crime is living. To others, they are terrifyign evidence of why delinquent people need to be rounded up and kept away from society.
Chronic, Acquired