The Hour Thief
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
|The Hour Thief|
|Thank you for your time.|
|Player: Flashrains (@FlashToo)|
|Real Name:||Edmund Ulysses Templeton|
|DOB or Age:||35-40, but has lived continuously since 1919|
|Eye Color:||Dark hazel|
|Citizenship:||United States of America|
|Time manipulation, teleportation, minor practical magic|
|Training / Abilities|
|Excellent memory, knowledge of ancient and current languages|
|Nonmagical brass pocketwatch, spellbook|
|"Virtue et Armis"|
Edmund Templeton, the Hour Thief, is a Midnight Squad sorcerer and archivist, World War II veteran, and librarian for Paragon City University in Salamanca. He maintains immortality by tricking criminals out of their own lifespans.
Formative years (1920s-1930s)
Edmund Ulysses Templeton was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in May of 1919, the only child of a lower-middle-class family that lived as tenants in the top floor of a triple-decker house until the Great Depression saw them moving south, to live with his mother's financially-better-off sister and her husband in Salamanca, Rhode Island. Growing up in Salamanca instilled a familiarity with the supernatural, growing up during the Depression left him with a dislike of waste. Additionally, the lack siblings and, after the family's move, frequent danger out doors led Edmund towards being an avid reader of any words he could get his hands on, from crime serials he kept hidden under his mattress from his mother and aunt, to the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, to newspapers and their reports on early costumed heroes such as Atlas. Of particular interest to him were the advent of the Freedom Phalanx and its then-fifteen-year-old co-founder the Dark Watcher, and the Dream Doctor's defeat of the Circle of Thorns and founding of the Midnight Squad as a hero organization. Magic fascinated him with its mystery and glamour, and as higher education was a thing for the very smart and the very rich, Edmund endeavored to be the former. He was successful, and was admitted to Paragon City University in Founder's Falls in 1937, where he studied linguistics. It was here that he had his first encounters with the Midnight Squad and began dabbling in magic himself, and shortly thereafter registered the persona of The Hour Thief with Paragon City authorities not long after the Citizen Crime Fighting Act was passed. His registered name was recorded in the Midnighter Club charter in 1939.
The Midnight Squad and the First Hero Brigade (1939-2002)
With the Midnight Squad, the Hour Thief found that working from the shadows suited him perfectly. The Dream Doctor remained a great inspiration for him, and came to be viewed as a mentor and idol. When America entered World War II he enlisted in the First Hero Brigade with the intent to fight in North Africa as a member of the Sand Kings under the Dream Doctor, but was rendered unable to serve by complications from an unlucky case of appendicitis. After his recovery, he was sent to serve on the Pacific front under Captain Volcano instead, providing support to the other metahuman troops in the form of both magical aid and translation of intelligence from Japanese to English. His absence from the front lines and skill with magically extending his own life, sometimes dodging literal bullets, let him survive the end of the war with no major injuries - except to his psyche, on the news of the atomic bombings of Japan.
With lingering feelings of guilt, not for the bombings themselves but for the eye-opening effect they had on his ideas of man as a judge of man, came his practice of using routine (and often alcohol) as a means of driving back dark thinking that continues into the present day. Edmund justified his continued existence and crimefighting-by-night as The Hour Thief as putting to good use what would otherwise cause harm, until the passing of the Might For Right Act in 1954. The Hour Thief seemed to vanish, and Edmund Templeton spent the next thirteen years evading government notice. These thirteen years raised his awareness of what immortality truly entailed as friends and family began to grow older without him, and rather than attempt to forge new close friendships or renew those in which he had been left behind, he withdrew behind his job as a Paragon City University librarian to contemplate how to avoid the loss of his own humanity.
The Hour Thief was not seen again until after the Might For Right Act was repealed and the first signs of a Rularuu threat appeared. Edmund steeled himself by squestering his lingering guilt and self-doubt behind the Midnight Squad's manifesto and returned to his heroic persona as an older, more jaded version of the self he had before the second world war. He kept on in this way, as a hero of the Midnight Squad, until the first Rikti invasion and the bombing of the Midnight Squad's headquarters. He again escaped by magic, but witnessing firsthand the vaporization of that by which he had defined himself in an all-too-familiar flash of searing, killing light left him again as shaken as he had been in the 1950s and he retreated back to the shadows. Since the Midnight Squad began rebuilding itself and the Occult Studies campus of PCU opened in Salamanca, he returned to live again in the town he thought of as home and re-enrobed himself in the routine of working the reference desk by day and repelling mystical and mundane threats to the safety of innocent citizens by night.
Even with the Midnight Squad's efforts to rebuild, the Midnighters have remained a mere shadow of what they once were - hardly the well of strength and familiarity they were in the 70s, and the Hour Thief's efforts to behave as if everything could still be as it was began to falter. After eight years in the crippled Midnight Squad he was approached by an agent of a secret society called The Codex with an invitation, and was enticed by what he was told: they were those who gathered in secrecy, away from prying eyes, wielding secrets for the protection of humanity, and on occasion doing what, despite its nature, must be done. They were the same words he had lived by for so many years, placed into a different shape but not painted a different color, and he accepted the offer while retaining his Midnighter ties. Presently, he maintains the Codex Paragon City chapter's own libraries.
For the past several decades, Edmund has remained a fairly handsome man in his thirties, with dark hair normally combed back from his face and slightly gray at the left temple, and neatly-groomed sideburns and goatee. He is physically unimposing - reasonably fit for a civilian, but a featherweight compared to the average metahuman man. He keeps himself tidy and dresses in a somewhat eccentric, anachronistic manner, preferring vests, three-piece suits, suspenders, and well-shined shoes. When "on the job," he adds a voluminous cape, a top hat, and a mask with dark eye lenses enchanted to pierce darkness that covers the entire top half of his face. His only scar of any significant size is the one from his appendectomy.
Edmund's only inherent abilities are simple talent with words, excellent memory, and strong willpower; the powers that legally designate him as metahuman are the result of decades of study from ancient grimoires and eldritch tomes, and he keeps a spellbook of his own as a means of staying organized. His spells operate by means of verbal traps, such as "Can you spare a few minutes for me" and other such innocent-sounding questions and statements that hide one truth behind another. By this trickery, Edmund's own store of time is increased while opponents' life expectancy drops if it is taken in a general sense, or an enemy can be effectively caught off guard while the Hour Thief's own ability to act enhances if it is taken in a more immediate manner. Usually, he takes only enough that he may finish a fight unscathed from the immediate, and adds any additional time taken to his own surplus. As a means of support, he is also able to offer portions of his own time to those who will accept it (including himself) for whatever their need is: time to rest, time to plan, time to line up a shot, time to escape, et cetera. Fighting some foes such as undead, other immortals, and some other supernatural creatures is possible for him, but draining: as timeless entities, he by definition cannot use their own time against them and therefore must deplete his own stores.
Time itself is treated as a substance that Edmund most frequently likens to sand, rather than a process or object, for the purposes of these spells: it can be added, removed, and otherwise rearranged in quantity, but not turned backwards (for it has no front nor back), created (it has to come from somewhere), or peered through (for time and the events that happen in it are two different things entirely). Edmund keeps a ledger of time taken and spent, to ensure he does not run short.
He has spent a large portion of the many years he has been alive learning as many languages as possible, both living and dead, so as to better facilitate the use of his spells and allow further magical study. In addition to English, he speaks French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Arabic, Russian, Polish, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, and Latin, and can competently translate almost anything else that's in a language native to Earth.
Additionally, he is skilled with teleportation, which he uses as a means of travel as well as disorienting and injuring foes and even storage of objects.
Personality and Psychology
Edmund tends to be described as pleasant, if a little eccentric for his dated speech, mannerisms, and wardrobe. He generally treats people with old-fashioned politeness, remaining reserved in conversation about all but the topic immediately at hand. He tends toward superficial amiability, steadiness, and reliability, all of which is genuine: it is of vital importance in maintaining his own sanity that he remains what would be called a good man, and gentlemanly behavior is a large part of holding on to that. He has a preference for honesty, and avoids outright lying even when he truly needs to mislead. He has no desire whatsoever to transcend humanity - to him, that's nothing but a prettier way of saying "lose," and after witnessing plenty of descents into madness over the years, he would prefer not to. He does not speak about his past often unless asked, apart from occasional lamentations that voluntary immortality was in retrospect a terrible idea.
He is not religious. Religion implies belief, and he has no belief in gods, miracles, hells, the human soul, or other divine (and eldritch) metaphysics - such belief would be quite redundant with his empirical knowledge that all of those things are real.
Though he pays attention to modern technology and culture and learns what he needs in order to function in today's changing society, he does not embrace it. He does acknowledge the convenience of cellular phones and owns a basic model, and he has learned basic computer operation as it's useful for his job as a college librarian and often needed for current hero work, but he has no desire to discard the familiar and still perfectly serviceable analog and paper media on which he's always relied.
Concerning others, Edmund has grown jaded and cynical over the years when it comes to society in general - there will never be an end to war, cruelty, or suffering - but has held onto his old idealistic optimism as pertaining to individuals, particularly those he is regularly near. His desire not to become detached from humanity means he will not immediately reject friendships or occasional romantic dalliances and will make the effort not to alienate those involved, while at the same time trying not to allow so much depth that he is emotionally ruined when it eventually ends. He will more readily accept a stronger attachment to other immortal or very-long-lived entities, and his preference of thinking the best of people who are near to him occasionally leads him toward a rosier view of such creatures than what is, in fact, the truth about them.
Edmund no longer smokes after his near-death experience when the Rikti bombed the Midnighter Club headquarters, his reason being that he'd prefer to keep the years it was taking off his life. However, he remains a heavy drinker partially as a means of inducing oblivion on those occasions that it really is needed, partially as a means of connecting to others socially in a way that inherently doesn't have to keep its depth, and partially because he genuinely enjoys the simple pleasure of a good wine, gin, or brandy. He has a philosphy of never doing anything he thinks he might regret if he can avoid it, and considers there to be a very important distinction between thinking he might regret something and knowing he will, in which case he has far less issue with it. All things in moderation, including excess: to never consider the future or the consequences of actions is at best foolish hedonism and at worst selfish irresponsibility, but a joyless existence of never living in the moment is no way to spend eternity or remain connected to humanity as a whole. This applies to relationships as well as food and spirits: the only difference between indulging in one or the other is which morning he wakes up wishing for death, and how long it lasts before he returns to feeling as if it were worth it. The pain of loss is proof that he is still human, and he dreads the day when it stops coming.
The Consequences of Immortality
Theft of time is a macabre and condemning magic not meant for the hand of man, a fact that did not bother Edmund in his youth when he took it up: the demonstrable existence of hell was a moot point, if he simply never died - and where was the harm, if he used it for good? However, he has since realized the foolishness of this thinking: immortality has a great deal more downsides than he had originally considered, and with a karmic debt that only grows deeper he does not dare give it up. Even true repentance is impossible; real remorse over what he has done and how he has, against nature, remained alive over the years would have to encompass regret for all the lives he has saved and disasters he has aided in thwarting. As such, he continues to keep a tight hold on his soul in the same way he's always known how, and keeping on with his hero work driven by equal parts fear and real conscience: nobody is helped by his enduring unimaginable tortures for eternity, and if he's going to make the effort to continue avoiding that, he owes it to the world of the living to do what he can in keeping it safe.
By now, Edmund has come to terms with the fact that he will never rest, and deals with eternity by trying to take it one day at a time and knowing himself as solidly as a still-relatively-young immortal can. Routine is what keeps him going: he remains able to get up in the morning, keep himself neat, work his job as a librarian, fight crime, and sleep at night because that is what he has always done. Sticking with old habits and avoiding unnecessary change seems so far to have worked fairly well, as does keeping his focus on the parts of the world that always return: the students graduate and move on while a new batch of eager young faces replace them as they always do, the war ends and the dictator is deposed but another will fill the space he left as it always is, the villain is captured but he will be back as he says he will be, she - whoever she is, at the time - is his but she will eventually tire of him and leave as she always does. In the long run, there is no happily ever after, but this is no deterrent for him: to dwell on what will be, and what will never change, is folly, and there will always be wrongs to right. There is peace - for now; that citizen is safe - for now; that villain is jailed - for now; he is himself happy with that woman - for now.
Friends and Affiliations
Edmund still identifies as a Midnighter first and an agent of the Codex second, despite having a greater immersion in the latter at present. In the Codex, he is an officer, having accepted promotion based on the knowledge that the best man to place in a position of authority is the one who doesn't want it.
In the Codex, he prefers to answer to Kitai over other superiors. While he at first had a great liking for Phaize, the initial impression wore off quickly, and words with Kitai that he would very much like to believe are true showed them to be of very similar mind.
At present, those he considers fairly close platonic friends comprise Mister Muppy, the Memory Harper, Nathan DeWall, Westford, Gillian Hastings, Istvan Czernin, and a pair of Cimeroran ghosts named Crito Pontanian and Ursula Artoria.
Since autumn of 2011, he has been in a relationship with Shandian, whose advances he initially tried to resist: he suspected it would grow far more serious than he would normally prefer much faster than he would be able to handle. His suspicions were correct, and he's now faced with the problem of what to do now that he's admitted he loves someone whose life expectancy realistically isn't very long.
The idea for this character came from, of all places, a creepypasta thread on 4chan in which someone posted "Five Minutes."
Using the D&D alignment system, he would be Lawful Good or Neutral Good.
List of applicable tropes
Because I am addicted to TVTropes, finding things that apply here is a common activity when I'm bored.
Author Appeal: Freely admitted even if it wasn't on purpose.
Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Edmund hasn't had any desire to update his plainclothes wardrobe since about 1950, and his hero costume would have looked dated even in 1939 when it was new.
Disco Dan: His speech is riddled with colloquialisms that went out of style at least fifty years ago.
It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time: Immortality, and the catch-22 of using a twisted-and-forbidden power for good, thus making true repentance impossible.
The Lancer: He plays this to Shandian's Hero.
Living On Borrowed Time: Stolen rather than borrowed, but close enough, given that without magical intervention there is no way he should be alive.
Omniglot: With all his years studying language, Edmund can translate almost anything, given time (which he has in copious amounts).
Personality Powers: He matches the description given for wizards.
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: His relationship with Shandian is a textbook example of this
Straight Man: He is put in this role a lot, mainly to Shandian's Funny Man.
Things Man Was Not Meant To Know overlapped with You Do NOT Want To Know: His frequent statement of "It's best not to think about it too hard" concerning his powers and how they work, and how two contradictory things can both be true.
Weak, But Skilled - Edmund is physically unimposing, especially for a licensed hero, and wins fights only through trickery and clever use of words.
What You Are In The Dark is one of his major driving forces.
Who Wants To Live Forever? He keeps up the whole living-forever business only because of his empirical knowledge that hell is real, and he'll keep his soul right where it is, thanks.
He is notably neither the Clock King nor a time traveler.