The Hood (Ian O'Sullivan)
A con man, a magician, and a heart of gold.
Sully is, almost by design, as average as he can be. Standing at 5’ 10", weighing about 170 lbs. the only things that stand out about him are his short-cropped, bright red hair, which he does his best to keep hidden beneath a Boston Red Sox hat, and his mismatched blue and green eyes. He dresses in unassuming clothes, jeans, t-shirts, a beaten and well-worn leather jacket, and keeps his head down, eyes open, and his ears perked.
As the Hood, Sully stands a bit taller, the shadows stretching him to six feet tall and also add thickness to his frame (although this is illusionary). Sully’s clothing changes, taking on the appearance of straight black slacks, a black dress shirt, black gloves, a black trench coat, and a deep, deep cowl all made out of shadow. Shadows pool around his feet, obscuring his movement so that it looks like he is floating (he’s not, he could still be tripped for instance) and the inside of the cowl is always filled with shadows except for his two, mismatched eyes.
I was born to a son of a bitch and a gentle woman who didn’t know any better at the time to not get involved with smooth-tongued Irish boys from the wrong side of town.
Growing up in South Boston, I lived in every shit hole, ghetto, and bad neighborhood in that part of Mass. By the time I was six my dad was using me as a look-out on jobs. By the time I was seven I knew he was a shithead. By eight I’d gotten my first ass-kicking by a rival thug and by nine I was boosting wallets and running Three-card Monte like you wouldn’t believe. The few times I got picked up I knew I broke my mother’s heart, that her baby might grow up to be like his lowlife father, and so I got better and stopped getting caught so much (plus we needed the money, wasn’t like my screw-up of a sperm donor was doing much good for us). When I was twelve he finally up and left, I still don’t know if it was because he was that much of a fuck up that him leaving was the inevitable conclusion to the sorry affair or if he was just too embarrassed of being as bad a crook and provider as he was a father.
Regardless, he left and I got four more years with my mother. My ma was a good woman, honest, hard working, who got swept up into a life she wasn’t suited for and a saddled with a kid too problematic to handle on her own. She was also filled with more love than anyone else I’ve ever met since and for nearly four years she worked herself to death, literally, trying to take care of me. I did the same, sometimes to my own detriment, and she died too young. Pneumonia or some shit, compounded by years of not eating right, not sleeping enough, and too much stress.
I spent about a year and a half as a ward of the state before I turned eighteen and they turned me out on my ear. I’d made plenty of contacts in the old life and so I went back to what I knew. I ran con jobs, all low-level shit, never big enough to make me rich or to make waves. I’ve never been concerned about money, there’s always been just enough, and I didn’t want to do anything to make the larger, more criminal, more violent fish notice. I got pinched a couple of times, spent some time in jail, got myself an adult record to match my juvie one, and when I got out after the third time I went as straight and narrow as I could.
While inside I got to reading, because the fuck all was I going to do, not being a body-building kind of guy. The jail library wasn’t great, mostly hand-me-down bullshit from old garage sales, but I found some biographies on supers, particularly the Librarian, and I got hooked. The idea of magic, magic wands, summoning beings from beyond the world, enchanted swords it…piqued something in me. I knew there was real magic out there in the world, not the slight of hand bullshit I had learned over the years, and I wanted to know more about it.
Once I got out I started getting into buying and selling old books. I’d go to estate sales and buy collections, never for what they were worth mind you, I needed to eat, but for a fair enough price that families that honestly didn’t give a shit thought they were getting a good deal. I’d go through the collections, pull the ones I wanted, then sell the rest for a profit. It was good, it was mostly clean, and it kept my idle hands busy with nearly legit work.
Then I found the Tome of Ashen’tolar. I knew the moment I stepped into the house something was different, wrong. The air felt weird, thick, and there was a smell like ozone. No one seemed to notice, even when I tried to ask them about it, and when I entered the library to inspect the collection it was like it had me in some kind of trance. I moved like I was being compelled, straight across the room, and when my hand touched the cover it felt like a fist I never knew was tensed inside my chest relaxed. I pulled the book from the shelf, opened it, and knew I’d found what I was looking for.
The rest? Well, you know the rest.