About Thomas the Bartender
For every wizard, orc, goblin or eldritch horror that dwells in or around the town of Fever there's at least three normal human beings going about their normal lives blissfully unaware of the Other Side. For the most part residents of fever usually grow up, get out of town, and after either some education or soul searching they either continue new lives elsewhere or return to their roots.
The turning point for Thomas Cooper where he would go from another uncelebrated hero in the long and storied history of the green berets to one of the stranger denizens of Fever came when he and his platoon were riding through a narrow pass in the mountains off the northern border of Pakistan trekking from one village to another to check on their progress and help them clear out the surrounding hills of dangerous bandits
To this day he doesn't know whether the men waiting in the rocks were Taliban, Al Qaeda or some other group looking to prey on travelers. What he does remember is that there was an off feeling about the pass long before they entered it and that his instincts told him there was something in it that was way worse than the men who ambushed and slaughtered the whole platoon. He also remembers the smell of blood, burning flesh and an inexorable pull away from the place when the smoke cleared. He was eventually found by farmers wandering out of the pass who tended to his wounds as best they were able before they passed him on to army medics who were frankly surprised that he was alive, let alone walking.
What they considered a medical miracle had a far simpler reason behind it and turned out to only be the start of Thomas's troubles.
Because while fever is an odd place that draws back in the souls that leave it, the pass was a terrible place where thousands had died over the ages from Roman and Chinese legionnaires crossing it to guard the pass, to British and Indian soldiers retreating through it to safety, to Russian pilots scanning the pass for hostiles, many had fallen to feed whatever dark horrors lived beneath those mountains. Thomas could have quite easily had become one of those souls, if whatever power made Fever what it was did not draw him out.
After several months in the hospital mending bone and flesh. Thomas felt far different than what he was before. He knew things that he shouldn't, was able to find insight and knowledge on events and subjects he would never had any contact with before. However none of that was as unnerving as the dreams, and the sleepwalking that often accompanied them. And that did not even compare to the seemingly random supernatural things that happened around him or perhaps because of him.
Receiving a medical discharge Thomas found himself out of the green berets and with far more questions than answers. Not simply about the events at the pass and the strangeness that surrounded him. But also about his life and the direction it was going. He had education from west point that meant little in a civilian career and the kind of mental illness on record that many would deem a liability in any setting where his particular set of skills would be valued. So instead of returning to civilian life immediately he took much of what he had saved up from his pay and backpacked across europe to seek the answers he needed.
He found very little in the way of finding what to do with himself. But at the very least he gained a much greater understanding of what he was and of what sort of world he stepped into. From an elven shaman running a hipster bookstore in Amsterdam, he learned about the Other Side and that his experience gave him a very rarer, and very dangerous introduction into it. From a sorcerer working as a prostitute in Vatican City he learned that he was possessed, sort of. He told him that there were hundreds of spirits circling and going through him at all times using him as an anchor to cling to the mortal world and get away from whatever hellish things dwelling within the pass that Tom survived. It wasn't until he met a wizard selling used cars outside of Bucharest that he learned that the strange things that happend in his sleep or during stress were not entirely at the whims of the spirits that haunted him but could be controlled and forced into compliance given a sufficient amount of willpower. Though the wizard himself did admit that the magic that Tom could command was far from the conventional occult stuff that he was accustomed to.
Running out of money, and getting a call from a friend back home that his mother was deteriorating Tom had no choice but to return home. While he had grown accustomed to running into dark and strange things in odd corners and dark alleys of the world he was surprised by the sheer density of such things just living beneath the surface of his hometown.
Not to his surprise the Sanctuary Bar proved to be a center point for a lot of Other Side gatherings. Valda, not one to forget a face even under a thick beard and a thicker sense of caution happily agreed to help him come to grips with his powers. In exchange for getting hooked up with a few of her connections he tended the bar After all, having a potentially volatile mage on the pay roll certainly helped keep some of the more bestial patrons from causing trouble, and the not too far from the truth rumors about his army training kept the more intelligent ones guessing.
For now, while Tom tries to get his treading in a new way of life he works the bar at night while occasionally doing a favor for Valda here and there, learns to control his magic during the day, and does his best to make sure his mother will be okay through all of it.
Thomas's one real love is a stiff drink and the outdoors. Anytime he can he takes time to go out fishing or hiking into the woods around Fever, often with friends, but just as often alone. Knowing what lives there doesn't bother him as much knowing that most die to bullets the same as everything else. Or failing that, lightning does the trick.