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Thomas Price is a character in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. He has been missing for nearly forty years due to a deal he made with the Crossroads. Most of the family believes he is dead. His wife Alice hasn't given up hope.

He features prominently in the Alice and Thomas Shorts.

Spoiler warning!
Ahead you will find significant plot details from the Patreon stories. Read at your own risk!

About[]

Appearance[]

When Thomas arrives in Buckley, he favors pressed pants, collared shirt, and waistcoat that are nonetheless carefully tailored to hide a wide array of weapons. When working on the house, he dresses down to a t-shirt. Despite his scholarly appearance he is very fit and lithely muscled; he has little to do in Buckley other than explore the woods, work on the house, and keep up his training.

Personality[]

As a child, Thomas was awkward and famously curious. He didn't fit in with the other children at Penton Hall and tended to lurk on the edges of his classmates' social gatherings, but he was constantly asking his teachers questions.[4]

Thomas is a conscientious scientist by nature. His Covenant job was creating field guides about cryptids around the world, but he frequently lied to his superiors to make them believe that areas were cryptid-free in order to protect the inhabitants. He caries countless books and reference materials to his exile in America and continues to develop both his field guides and a chronicle of his sorcery experiences.

Abilities[]

Thomas is a skilled combatant and seems to favor guns over knives. He also has metalworking skills and keeps a forge in his basement.[5]

The strength of Thomas's sorcery is cut in half when he makes his deal with the crossroads.

Original abilities:

His sorcery gives him an affinity for summoning fire, which includes not being bothered by hot drinks. He can make items disappear and then appear somewhere else. He is implied to be able to influence minds, as when he convinces Gwendolyn Brandt not to reveal his abilities to the Covenant.[6] He can create physical illusions to the extent of making raw meat appear to be a (admittedly mangled) human body. However, using these powers is a significant drain on his energy and requires extensive recovery time.[4]

Post-bargain:

Thomas appears to have retained his transmutation abilities. According to Alice, Thomas didn't just magic away the dust on his books, because that would sap his energy enough to make him defenseless. That said, Alice regularly came home dripping in blood. When she began to drip on a book that would summon a nasty beast, Thomas magicked her blood away "real fast."[7]

He was able to summon small flames, but they were so inconsequential that it was more effective to use weaponry in combat. Mary notes to Antimony that he was only tapping the tip of the iceberg.[8]

Professional Life[]

Thomas is a disgraced (and later fully defected) member of the Covenant of St. George, with all the training that entails. He is sworn to the pen and scroll, which is the research path of career Covenant members.

While in Buckley, he receives a modest stipend from the Covenant for spying on the Healy family.

Biography[]

Early Life[]

Thomas is an orphan and the last of the Price line. He remembers seeing Ada and Charles Healy, who were older than him, around Penton Hall. Although he was famously curious about everything, he had no questions about the dead. He felt the dead only mattered when the intersected with the world of the living.[4]

He grew up in the Covenant and was sworn to the pen and paper due to his research skills. As a teenager, he hid his sorcerer magic: he says that while other boys feared lectures about wet dreams, he was trying not to set his bed sheets on fire.[4]

In his early twenties, Thomas was sent on assignment to different continents to assess the threat levels of the cryptids who lived there. During that time, he discovered that plenty of cryptids were not dangerous enough to justify mass extermination. He warned the sentient cryptids he met of how to avoid the Covenant's notice, and he sent his superiors false reports claiming there were no cryptids in the places he visited.

His strategy worked until he visited Australia. It was out of the realm of belief for the continent famed for its dangerous creatures to be cryptid-free. The Covenant reassigned him to spy on the Healys in America while they reviewed his files.

Unlike Alexander and Enid, Thomas hoped to make his separation from the Covenant more subtle: he intended to quietly live out his American exile with the Covenant neither hunting him nor asking him to take more decisive action against his targets there.[9] However, family records indicate that, before he disappeared, Thomas officially tendered his resignation with the Covenant and also sent them all known research about cuckoos. This triggered a strike attack against the family in Buckley.

Prequels[]

See Also: Alice and Thomas Shorts

In 1954, Thomas arrives in Buckley and settles in to the Old Parrish Place, where he meets sixteen-year-old Alice Healy. The two strike up a friendship, and Alice encourages him to nurse a tailypo back to health. Over the next year, they build up a friendship that Jonathan disapproves of but Alexander and Enid encourage.

Thomas develops a friendship with Mary Dunlavy as well, solidified in the months that the Healys are down in Florida visiting family friends.

When Gwendolyn Brandt comes to town demanding Thomas honor their Covenant-issued betrothal, a deadly comedy of errors ensues. Mary pretends to be Thomas's wife to get Gwendolyn to leave. Alice sees them kissing and feels betrayed by Mary, triggering a year-long avoidance of them both. Alice is attacked by a sentient slime, and Thomas helps the Healys rescue her.

Alice finally breaks the impasse when Enid dies. She calls Thomas over to help dispose of the body and identify the cryptid that killed Enid. Afterward, when Jonathan orders Alice to stay behind while the menfolk hunted for the killer cryptid, Alice sneaks out and is bitten by the creature. She deliriously tells him she loves him and wanted to marry him someday. Thomas enters a bargain with the crossroads in order to save Alice's life, trading his power and his freedom for her well-being. Thomas chooses not to tell Alice what he did for her, not wanting her to feel obligated to stay with him. His world is already closing in on itself, confining him to a smaller and smaller range within Buckley with each day that passes. By the time Alice leaves for college, Thomas can barely make it to the Red Angel.

Main Series[]

Eventually, Thomas and Alice Mary and have two children, Kevin and Jane. He tenders his resignation to the Covenant and also sends them information about cuckoos, considering the warning important enough to risk their wrath.[citation needed] The Covenant comes to Buckley, though it is unclear if this is before or after Thomas's disappearance.

The crossroads take Thomas away, and Alice spends the better part of forty years searching for him through different dimensions. The rest of the family does not believe he is still alive, but the Mary and the Crossroads imply that he can still be saved.[10]

Crossroads Bargain[]

See Also: Halfway Through the Wood

The Crossroads are a malevolent entity that makes deals in order to gain power. Its deals always have a catch and manage to hurt the recipient as much as help them. Deals are made through the proxy of a Crossroads Guardian arguing for the being, and a Crossroads Ghost negotiating on behalf of the recipient. Mary Dunlavy brokers Thomas's deal.

Thomas bargains with the crossroads for Alice's life when she is seventeen years old and dying horrifically from the bite of the cryptid that killed her grandmother. He and Jonathan both appeal to the crossroads, but Mary Dunlavy chooses to treat with Thomas rather than Alice's father. Thomas and Mary both worry that Jonathan would try to change something fundamental about Alice's personality in order to get her out of Buckley for good. In contrast, Thomas fights to ensure that Alice is not beholden to him, and doesn't even want her to know about the bargain so she doesn't feel obligated to stay with him.

The terms of his bargain are thus:

  • Alice will survive her injury and be healed as much as possible given the damage already done by the venom in her blood.
  • She lives - not forever, but her life will unfold as it normally would, bumps and bruises and all.
  • She will retain her free will and freedom of movement, including the ability to choose Thomas if she so desires.
  • The crossroads will never touch Alice again, even if she asks it of them.
  • The bargain cannot be taken back, even if payment is reclaimed.

Because the crossroads cannot fully heal Alice from the venom, Mary negotiates their price of Thomas in half. Rather than taking all his magic and killing him in the process, the terms of their assistance is as follows: They will take half his magic. Since Thomas is bargaining for the life and freedom of Alice, the crossroads will take those things away from him. He will be increasingly confined - first the township boundary, then his property, then his house. Part of the punishment is his constantly wondering when his boundaries will be yet again reduced. If Alice does choose to be with him, then when he is at his "most content and complete," the crossroads will take even his home away from him, and put him somewhere Alice can never reach, and will keep him there until his death.

If Alice dies before they manage to narrow down his world and take him for their own, the bargain is null and void.

Mary's Role

Throughout the negotiations, Mary repeatedly entreats Thomas to abandon it and let Alice die rather than be beholden to the crossroads. In the end, she calls the bargain "fair." She tries to get him to go back on the bargain in the following days, and warns him that backing down once the crossroads have begun exacting their price will do more harm that not having made the bargain at all. She makes these warnings as Thomas's friend, even though it goes against the best interests of her employer and her own job security as the family babysitter.

Later she thinks to herself that Thomas (or the crossroads?) isn't as clever as they think they are, though the context of this statement is unclear.

Mary is never allowed to discuss the specific details of a bargain with those not involved, but in this case the crossroads forbids her from even admitting a bargain exists to anyone who doesn't know about it already. Thomas, Jonathan, and Alexander are the only mortals who know about the bargain. They intentionally keep the information from the mice. Thus, if none of the three share the information with Alice or others, the bargain's existence could be completely unknown to future generations.

Family Legend[]

Per the Mice

  • Thomas to Alice: "Yes, dear, it does seem unwise to stand here and be calmly wait to be devoured by the ever-expanding maw of the netherworld. If you have a suggestion as to how better to handle the situation, I'm quite eager to hear it."[11]

Per Verity Price

Verity's understanding of Thomas's fate is the most wildly inaccurate of her siblings. She assumes his disappearance is related to dabbling in dangerous magic that dragged him into the realms of the dead. Her use of the term "netherworld" likely reflects the mice's recitations.

  • "He somehow managed to get himself to one of the planes of the Underworld, probably by trying to pull off some sort of spell from the 'no, really, don't do this,' section of the family library. He spent years trying to sever the connection, sometimes on his own, sometimes with help. They never succeeded, and Grandma Alice was pregnant with my Aunt Jane when that link finally yanked him out of this dimension into that one."[12]
  • "There are a few spellbooks and grimoires in the family library. Rumor has it they all used to belong to Grandpa Thomas, which explains how he was able to make a deal with one of the Netherworlds before he disappeared. No one in the family has messed around with magic since."[13]

Per Alex Price

  • "My grandfather was originally from England, but traveled a lot before settling down in Buckley Township, Michigan, where he married my grandmother and was eventually sucked into a dimensional portal leading to who-knows-where."[14]

Per Antimony Price

Antimony has the greatest understanding of Thomas's bargain, mostly because the crossroads dropped enough hints during her own negotiations with them. This allowed Mary to break her silence about the deal's existence and use creative workarounds to share some of the details, although Antimony still has some misconceptions. She thinks that Thomas's increased confinement was him warding himself against the crossroads, not a punishment by their own design. She does not know that Thomas forbid the crossroads from dealing directly with Alice.

  • "What could have driven a man like Thomas Price, a scholar, a sorcerer, a former member of the Covenant of St. George, who knew exactly what kind of danger the crossroads represented, to make a bargain with them? What, if not the life of the woman he loved? Mary had said, when I made my own crossroads deal, that she'd been the one to broker the contract for Alice Healy's life--Healy, not Price. They hadn't been married yet, and so far as I knew, my grandmother had only gone to the crossroads after she had a ring on her finger and an empty place where here husband should have been. That visit had ended in fire and tears, but no bargain, which led me to believe the crossroads had asked for something she wasn't willing to give up, not even to save the man she'd go on to spend the next forty years searching for."[15]
  • "The crossroads don't like [Alice]. She's a nuisance and a danger, and she just wants her husband back. The cost of keeping my grandfather should have long since become too great, and they should have returned him. They didn't, which means they can't."[16]
  • "If the crossroads could catch me any time I set foot outside of the wards, I was going to wind up like my grandfather had been in the last years of his life: locked into a steadily narrowing space, unable to go outside or fight back."[17]
  • "My grandfather made a deal with the crossroads to save my grandmother's life. I don't know the exact terms he agreed to. No one does except Mary, and she's never been allowed to tell us what they were. What I do know is that after he made his deal, he stopped going outside. Not right away, but slowly, staying a little closer to home every day. His world narrowed inch by inch, and by the time the crossroads carried him away, he couldn't even go down the stairs. Grandma had to carry his meals up to him, because he'd lost everything below the second floor. They crushed him like a rat in a trap, and when that wasn't funny anymore, they came for him anyway. There aren't wards to keep the crossroads out."[18]

Per Mary Dunlavy

  • To Antimony: "When your grandfather went to the crossroads--and remember, you didn't ask any of this, I'm talking because I want to, and you can't stop me--they'd been waiting for him for a long, long time. He had power. He moved through a world filled with chaos, and sometimes he made it worse and sometimes he made it better, but always, always, he made it more fair. That was what he cared about more than anything...He was stubborn. They laid a labyrinth at his feet, and he fought every step to keep from going around the corner. When he finally ran out of room to run, when he finally paid what they'd been asking all along, well. The crossroads had never meant to sink that much power into him. They'd been expecting an easy kill. They hated him for what he did, and they've hated the rest of your family ever since."[15]

Per Alice

  • To Antimony: "Saving your lover's life doesn't mean you get to stay with them. The crossroads are very clear about that. Mary tried to save my Thomas, bless that poor girl's spectral soul, but they outsmarted her, and they'll outsmart you too."

Relationships[]

Alice Healy[]

Alice and Thomas are nearly ten years apart in age. They meet when Alice is sixteen and Thomas twenty-six. He maintains a polite friendship with her for the better part of a year before he begins to admit that he has feeling with her, though he has seen evidence of her schoolgirl crush for some time. After Alice is nearly killed by sentient slime, he realizes how much she truly means to him but does not tell her. A year later, when she is dying from a bidi-taurabo-haza attack, he bargains with the crossroads to save her life. In exchange, he gives up his freedom and agrees to be confined to Buckley. However, he does not tell Alice what he has done for her; he does not want her to feel obligated to him, to become his caretaker. He wants only for her to be living, and happy, and have her freedom. She leaves for college without knowing about the bargain.

Four years later, Alice and Thomas marry and have two children. Thomas is taken by the crossroads soon after their daughter, Jane, is born.

Mary Dunlavy[]

Thomas and Mary strike up a friendship through their mutual care for Alice.

Jonathan Healy[]

TBA

Gwendolyn Brandt[]

The Covenant betrothed Thomas and Gwendolyn when they were teenagers, based on careful consideration of both their lineages. Thomas was terrified of her and spent so much time avoiding her and other girls that some in the Covenant believed he preferred men. Gwendolyn is sent to find Thomas in Buckley, marry, and produce a Price heir so the Covenant could retain access to the Price family vaults. Thomas rejects her summarily. She gets pulled into dealing with an Alkabyiftiris slime outbreak and is horrified to discover Thomas is a sorcerer. He convinces her to keep his secret and return to England.

Bitter about the dismissal, Gwendolyn makes an open-ended bargain with the crossroads for the opportunity to eliminate both Thomas and the Healys. She fails, and Mary kills her in retaliation.

Trivia[]

  • McGuire named her cat Thomas after this character. She also had a cat named Alice for some time.
  • Alice and Thomas were the first character she created in the InCryptid universe. She has said that the main series is a long con to make readers fall in love with A&T as much as she has.[citation needed]
  • Alice refers to Thomas as a witch, not a sorcerer.[19]
  • Thomas's mother was a Bell. Both his parents were researchers and apparently had a similar temperament to Thomas's.[20]

Quotes[]

Epigraphs[]

Main Article: Epigraphs

Thomas's epigraphs tend toward survival and strategy.

References[]


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