Character: Thomas Raith
Timeline: Thomas will be taken from the period between the books Changes and Ghost Story.
Personality: As part of his upbringing, Thomas learned early on the importance of masks, and is always wearing one. One of the most frustrating things for people who try to get to know him is realizing just how many masks Thomas actually wears.
The most obvious mask he wears is that of a dim-witted, stereotypical wealthy playboy who is little more than an irritating, walking, talking ambulatory penis. It's a mask that has served him well by keeping his sisters under the impression that he is too dumb to be a threat. Thomas even enjoys playing up that aspect, especially around those repressed or uncomfortable with their sexuality, because as far as he is concerned, if he projects the personality and thoughtlessness people expect, they will have no need to look any farther beyond what they see.
But beneath that mask, there are others. There is the mask of the predatory supernatural vampire, an individual driven by nothing but his own appetites, one who doesn't care whether the human beings around him live or die as long as he himself survives. The one of the sarcastic, irritating older brother. Of the over-protective lover, the defensive, bleeding heart outcast who fell in love with his food. Thomas would be the first to say that they are all lies, all parts he plays and none of them are real and that he is nothing but a fantastic liar.
And while it is true that Thomas is a fantastic liar, the fact of the matter remains that he is a deeply divided person, one who has lived his whole life torn between the predatory instincts of his darker nature and the empathy of his human side. Thomas lives a life deeply ashamed of what he is and the things he has done, and holds his own failures close as reminders of what could be. This also means he forgives very slowly (himself but also others' wrongs towards those he cares about) and deals with being unable to forgive himself for nearly killing Justine and falling to temptation after his capture by the Skinwalker by hiding behind his masks, believing that if he shows the world the faces they expect, they will not look any further.
Of course, the irony is that some of those masks are built on Thomas' own experiences, are exactly what he believes. But because he wears them so often and interchanges them so frequently, he himself is under the impression that they are facades, and slowly fears that he will soon not be able to tell the difference between mask and reality. Fear of losing himself to the darkness within, as well as his repeatedly proven loyalty to his family and love for Justine, are the cornerstones of the 'real' Thomas that even he is afraid to acknowledge, and together they are the strength he draws on unconsciously. Even as he switches between playboy and vampire, heartless predator and devoted lover, all the while thinking he is losing himself in the lies of his own construction, the constants of Thomas' personality remains the same: fear of the darkness inside him, love for the woman who gave her life for him, and loyalty to his family.
Background:Born to Lord Raith and Margaret LeFay, Thomas is the only of Lord Raith's male children to survive to adulthood, the others all having been murdered long before reaching adulthood by methods that cannot be traced directly back to Lord Raith. Sometime in his thirties, Thomas is at Zero, an exclusive, hedonistic nightclub owned by his family, when he meets a beautiful but emotionally unstable young woman named Justine, who has caught the attention of one Bianca St. Claire, Chicago's local madame to the rich and corrupt, as well as a Red Court vampire. Justine also catches Thomas' interest because of the intensity with which she experiences emotions, and given the choice between becoming one of Bianca's callgirls and Thomas' doe, Justine chooses Thomas, earning him Bianca's wrath.
Thomas and Justine (now his lover) meet Harry Dresden at a masquerade thrown by the same Bianca St. Claire, in Chicago. When Bianca uses the masquerade as an opportunity to pay back both Thomas and Harry for their perceived insults (Thomas for poaching Justine, Harry for inadvertantly causing the death of one of Bianca's favourites), Justine blackmails Harry into rescuing Thomas. Within the next several years, Thomas continues to appear at seemingly random events in Harry's life: standing as second to a Red Court vampire who challenges Harry to a duel, hanging around at the bar where Harry drinks. These turn out not to be random encounters, but in part due to Lord Raith's continued attempts to murder his son and Thomas' knowledge that Harry is his maternal half-brother and subsequent attempts to help him.
While Harry is investigating a case on Thomas' behalf, Thomas overextends his abilities to the point of death and nearly kills Justine (his long-time lover/girlfriend) during a feeding. Though Justine recovers, Thomas never forgives himself for the fact, even though their mutual love gives Justine protection against being fed on from any White Court vampire. His connection to Harry revealed, Thomas continues for several years as Harry's sidekick and backup, attempting to live a human life despite his vampiric nature. Eventually, Thomas appears to strike a balance between his Hunger and his desire not to hurt humans by becoming a hairdresser, allowing himself to sip lightly from many different women in order to satiate his demon.
During this time, unbeknownst to Harry, Thomas is also in infrequent contact with his sister Lara, the only other member of the Venatori that he knows. Aside from being Harry's backup, Thomas continues his own supernatural work as a Venator, a member of a small group who wage a secret war for the collective memory of mankind. Gods, demons, and other supernatural entities draw their power from the knowledge and belief of mankind, and the Venators attempt to banish the most powerful and darkest of these old gods and demons by erasing the knowledge of them from mankind's memory in what they call the Oblivion War. During one such mission, Thomas crosses the Stygian Sisterhood, foils their plan to bring back one of their demonic matrons, and destroys a book of rituals called the Lexicon Malos while the Stygians attempt to manipulate Harry Dresden to find the book and publish it. In return for attempting to use his brother as a pawn, Thomas finds the member of the Stygian Sisterhood responsible and kills her, feeding her to his demonic vampire Hunger.
A few years later, when Harry asks Thomas to help protect the accused traitor Donald Morgan, a skinwalker captures Thomas and he is tortured for days, being repeatedly drained of his Hunger's reserves and then forced/allowed to feed and kill women before the process is begun anew. The experience forces Thomas to come to face-to-face with his demonic nature, and he is changed by the experience, claiming he was foolish for thinking he could live a human life. He cuts ties with his brother, who (along with Justine) disapproves of his new lease on life. Thomas gives up his salon and returns to the Raith family home, though he still takes Harry's calls, and demonstrates that he cares for his brother by accompanying Harry on a mission to rescue Harry's daughter.
The attempt to save Harry's daughter brings Thomas (and the rest of Harry's friends) into the heart of Red Court territory, where they fight their way through the gathered Red Court hoards on the steps of Chichen Itza in hopes of rescuing Harry's daughter Maggie and stopping a blood curse that would kill every one of Harry's blood relatives, including Thomas. During the fight, Thomas promises to protect Harry's injured apprentice Molly with his life, a promise he keeps when he calls on family connections to have Molly airlifted out of Mexico by a US Navy helicopter after Harry wins the battle and destroys the entire Red Court by turning the blood curse on the vampires.
Shortly after the war (as in, less than twenty four hours), Harry is shot and killed by a mysterious assassin while taking refuge on Thomas' boat, though his body is never recovered. Despite the knowledge that Harry had made plenty of enemies of his own and that there was likely nothing he could have done, Thomas continues to blame himself for Harry's death, believing that if he had been on the boat with Harry at the time, he might have seen something that could either prevent or avenge Harry's death. In his guilt and grief, Thomas has begun withdrawing from those around him, taking refuge in alcohol and ignoring the needs of his demonic Hunger.
Supernatural Abilities – Thomas is a vampire of the White Court, an incubus who lives by feeding off the emotional energies of his victims. This is most easily accomplished through sex, though for a while Thomas had been able to take small sips from many women to satisfy himself without killing them at his day job as a hairdresser. After his encounter with the Skinwalker, however, he has stated that this was no longer an option, whether that is because he no longer trusts himself or because the Skinwalker had injured him in some way remains uncertain.
This ability to feed off the emotional energy/lifeforce of his victims is made possible by the predatory Hunger that dwells within each White Court vampire. The Hunger, or the demon, is a symbiotic spirit being that awakens in each White Court vampire when they have sex for the first time. If the sex is coupled with true, selfless love, the Hunger is killed by the sacrificial nature of true love, but if it is not, the demon drains the life from the vampire's partner, killing them. By feeding the Hunger, Thomas can in turn draw on the demon, which grants him superhuman strength, speed, and senses, as well as an accelerated healing factor. However, the more Thomas uses his supernatural strength, speed, and senses, the more power he must draw from the Hunger, and the more often (and more deeply) he must feed to replenish it. In general, a White Court vampire's supernatural abilities are also markedly less than those of traditional vampires (Black or Red Court in Dresden-verse parlance). Though Thomas has, once, managed to go toe-to-toe with a newboarn traditional Black Court vampire and won, the encounter lasted less than ten minutes and brought him to the brink of death (see Background re: Justine).
As a side effect of this symbiotic Hunger, Thomas can affect the emotional states of those in a room with him, sometimes to the point where inhibitions can be annihilated from thirty paces(ask him about the time he was attacked by a Jehovah's Witness), and feeding on an individual can allow him to learn their unspoken desires. He attempts to keep this side effect as under wraps as possible, mostly by avoiding physical contact, but the longer Thomas goes without feeding, the stronger this side effect is as the Hunger exercises its sense of self-preservation. This side effect of the Hunger also lends White Court vampires like Thomas a certain subtle magnetic attraction, an unearthly beauty that draws in those susceptible to their kind's manipulation. When drawing deeply on the demon's powers, Thomas' skin will grow cold to the point where it cools the air around him, and his skin emits a faint, pearl-like glow. A less-obvious indicator of how under the Hunger's influence he is is the colour of his eyes. The closer they are to white, the closer the demon is to the surface. The darker grey they are, the more he is in control.
While White Court vampires are not subject to the traditional vampire weaknesses of holy water, sunlight, garlic, objects of faith, etc and can pass for human with much more ease, they do have one weakness that other vampires do not possess: the touch of selfless true love will burn or sicken a White Court vampire more effectively than fire or poison. In this instance, true love is defined as a pure, selfless, reciprocated, consummated love between two individuals. The explanation for this is that the act of sex is a mingling of energies, of chaotic, spontaneous potential for creation, and love of that nature marks both individuals to their very souls, and as long as their souls are twined only with each other's, they are protected from the lust White Court vampires are able to inspire because true love is the antithesis of empty lust. (this of course, makes for interesting loop holes for certain angst-ridden vampires and their human girlfriends). This protection also extends to objects of love exchanged between two people in love: wedding rings have been known to burn when picked up by a White Court vampire, and roses exchanged by lovers have pricked and caused sickness.
Natural Abilities Thomas is a seasoned fighter, specializing in bladed weapons and firearms. He is handy with a variety of small hand-held guns, but favours a Desert Eagle when stealth and size isn't an issue. Without his demon-enhanced senses, Thomas is a decent shot; with supernatural enhancement, he's a force to be reckoned with. His other weapons of choice are bladed weapons, usually an antique cavalry saber and a bent-blade knife (either a kukri or a falcata). He is practiced in the use of his weapons from dodging nearly three decades of assassination attempts by his father (and enemies of his own) and even without supernatural strength is a formidable fighter.
Sample Journal Post:
[Video] The First Sip's the Easiest
[The video is momentarily shaky as Thomas turns on the PCD, and there's a glimpse of crumbling wall, then tea-stained sky, before the frame settles on a gap in the Wall, and a small reptilian creature the size of a small cat that's scrambling over a very large rock. The camera moves as Thomas backs away from the wall, but that only makes the creature scramble faster.]
Can a guy take a walk around here without getting up close and personal with some crazy thing straight out of the Nevernever? I already got chased by Smelly the Steroid Chicken yesterday.
[the creature manages to make it over the rock and makes its way over to Thomas, a little unsteady on its legs. Its smooth skin looks moist, and a few crumbs can be seen around its mouth, and there is a bright, eager light in its eyes as it reaches him and begins trying to climb up Thomas' jeans.] Or does this thing just not have any self-preservation instinct at all? You'd think getting hit with a sandwich would be a good deterrent.
The dream was always the same, but knowing that it was a dream never made it any better.
The ropes around his wrists and ankles were rough and sticky with drying blood, their fibers wearing at skin already scraped deep by hours, days, of the same little inconvenience now worn to torturous lengths. He hung, blinded and suspended, knowing that somewhere close by loomed the creature responsible for his state, knowing that it was only going to be a matter of time before the pain began again, before dull barbed claws dug into his flesh and began peeling the skin from his bones.
And when the pain stopped, the Hunger would begin again, burning through the last of the liquid life that kept him alive, trying to knit back together ripped flesh and regrow skin. It would leave him empty. Crazed. Monstrous. And there would be a woman, a doe, young and supple and terrified until the demon's touch banished that fear and made her mindless and wanting.
Knowing it was coming didn't make it easier to handle when the memory of life, of that last cry of pleasure crashed into him, when for one glorious moment there was fulfillment and healing and cessation of pain. Knowing it was coming didn't make his body forget that this was what it wanted, what he craved from the very darkest corruption of his soul.
In his memories, when he had killed the nameless doe, the cycle had begun again. Returned to the ropes, the pain of barbed claws, the growing emptiness, and the feeding. But in his dreams, he fell. Fell from captivity in the Skinwalker's lair to grass and dirt churned to mud by the ichor and blood of slain Red Court vampires. His nerves hummed with the memory of fear and adrenaline, of the feel of steel in his hands and the knowledge of certain death. Then a scream that split the world...
And he fell again, this time to a water-stained deck of smooth wood, worn slick by dozens of pairs of feet and now made slicker by the pool of blood that crept slowly across the boat's surface. This was the only part of his dream not etched by the harsh lines of memory, the only part of the dream that had been painted by imagination after the fact. Thomas suspected the reality had been much more mundane, that the faintly rotted smell of Lake Michigan wasn't quite as harsh, the metallic tang of blood not as biting. The only thing he knew for certain was that there had been that much blood. Staining the deck of the Water Beetle like a living thing despite Chicago's finest attempts to wash it all away after they'd finished their investigation.
In his mind's eye, the lean, familiar form of his brother had walked out of the cabin, ducking low to avoid hitting his head on the lintel, then a whisper of air, a dull impact. Harry had reached for his shirt, found blood flowing, and stumbled, disoriented and confused. He'd hit the edge of the boat and fallen over with little more than a quiet splash of water to mark the passing of a wizard who had saved the world, a little brother who had been a pain in the ass yet a source of strength, of one Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden.
In his dream, Thomas retraced his brother's imagined steps: out of the cabin, the sniper rifle's bullet impact, the stumble... The world around him spun as his feet caught on the imagined boat and Thomas fell again, hitting the water, its temperature icy enough to drive the breath from his--
Thomas jolted upright in his sparse bed, the sheets tangled around his body. Cold sweat clung to him as he breathed deep, drawing breath into lungs that had never hit the icy depths of Lake Michigan. He reached instinctively for the glass of bourbon he'd taken to keeping by the bedside and found it empty. He reached for the bottle that stood next to the glass and found it empty as well.
Biting back a curse in a voice thick with sleep and previously drunk bourbon, Thomas untangled himself from the sheets, tearing the bedding in his haste, and swung his legs out of bed, ignoring the sleeping form of a young woman sharing the bed with him. He moved without really seeing, reaching blindly down to the floor to pick up a pair of denim jeans and pulled them on. Winter's chill crept in through the windows and beneath the door, but Thomas paid it no mind as he walked out the door in bare feet. Dirty snow crunched beneath his footsteps but he walked on, ignoring the chill winter air, the silent night, the look of disbelief he got from a transient around the corner.
He kept walking but the memory of the dream would not fade.
He needed another bottle of bourbon.