Coaleashion remains part of the Remnant Empire within the Milky Way Galaxy, where the spiralling Gnarled Leash ends at Wit's End Skulk. In Leg Post 109, Mantle finds that the fridge is absent groceries, save for Uncle Eq's alcohol, so he chooses to visit town. When he gets there, he finds a pickpocket who is trying to steal money for food. He is able to see the Threads of Fate, so he offers to help her and buy her pies from a vendor before he continues on his way. Further in town, he thwarts the efforts of a jewel thief, who then attempts to assault him in an alley, but Mantle is able to see the threads of the man's actions and beats him up. When Mantle gets home, he finds his Uncle Eq wants to take him on a birthday trip from Wit's End. They travel aboard a ship, where Mantle uses his powers to avoid a dangerous riptide on the leash. They turn to the Master Leash and Uncle Eq reveals that they're going to the prestigious Ivory Pride. When they arrive, Mantle wants to know about his parents. Uncle Eq admits that his mother was both proud and ashamed of Mantle's birth and that they abandoned him. To try to cheer up the boy, Uncle Eq suggests that Mantle speak with another patron of the bar, Baron Go. Mantle discovers that Baron Go had supernatural luck and is able to see the Threads of Fate very clearly in his favour during gambling games. With Go is Imhoptah, master of the impossible, whose threads are confused and knotted. As they talk, they are suddenly interrupted when Tsou de Ming bursts in. She claims she is being followed by someone and asks that they stall her pursuers. A moment later and The Doctor, in his twelfth incarnation, arrives to find guns aimed at him. When he explains that he's chasing two men who stole his TARDIS, they let The Doctor go through the back after Tsou de Ming. Then two men arrive, who are the men that stole the TARDIS. However, they are seeking the one who stole the TARDIS from them, though they do not explain that it's Tsou de Ming. One is Soriel and the other is Highemperor, who people think is dressed up as Highemperor and not the man himself. When Baron Go tries to stop them chasing Tsou de Ming, Soriel attempts to attack the man but his supernatural luck allows him to avoid all the attacks. Highemperor, however, Powerplays against the baron and cuts the threads of fate. The two are allowed to pass as everyone is shocked that Highemperor was able to hit the baron. The baron sits shocked when The Doctor enters again, only as his eleventh incarnation, but Mantle can see it's the same man. He is still chasing Soriel and Highemperor, so the patrons allow him to go after them. A moment later and two more men enter, this time Xerxes Rumplekirk and Aellah. They reveal they are chasing Tsou de Ming, finally the two she was running from, and pistols are aimed at them. Xerxes admits he's just upset that she stood him up for their date and the patrons relent, wishing him luck on his date with her as the two pass. Finally, The Doctor appears again, in his tenth incarnation, as he saw two TARDIS pass through. Mantle directs him to the back after everyone else. Although the calamity is over, Baron Go has lost his supernatural luck, much to the horror of everyone in the bar. Mantle, able to see the severed threads, ties them back together and restores the baron's luck. Given this new power, Uncle Eq thinks it's time that Mantle explored the universe and gained life experience, but encourages Imhoptah to go with him. Imhoptah opens a bathroom door, which leads to another world and they go through.
The seven leashes of Coaleashion are technically compressed (albeit large and long) fields of magnetic force and exotic matter, but given their often blue-green hue and the fact that spaceships can literally float on them to be carried along by magnetic current, they are quite similar to seas. These twisted and gnarled pathways make the system difficult to navigate, which is one reason why the High Empire's Remnant sector doesn't closely monitor it.
The other reason of course is that Navitatex Pollos takes substantial bribes in exchange for leaving it alone.
Coaleashion is most famous for its pirates, which teem here under Pollos's lax watch. And its nobility, the Houses of White anointed by the High Empire in ages past, are those most knowledgeable and powerful in this system. But for most of its inhabitants, who are neither pirates nor nobles, it is simply the place they live, and they are unaware of the larger political climate.
The Gnarled Leash is unique among the seven leashes in that it twists in on itself, spiraling tighter and tighter, passing several planetoids (known as prides or skulks) along the way, before ending in the center at a place called Wits' End Skulk. The High Empire is famous for treating its citizens well, but due to Coaleashion's unique position of being largely left alone, it is generally those who live on the nicer prides who get better access to the Remnant's technology and resources.
Those on the skulks have lesser access, and when it comes to Wits' End Skulk, only reachable through a long and arduous sail down the entire length of the Gnarled Leash, its inhabitants must fend for themselves almost completely. The skulk's appointed governor lives in a small fortified palace made entirely of the High Empire's famous crystal, but the rest of the structures dotting the planetoid are made of rock, concrete, or metal, and usually at least somewhat haphazard in construction, not to mention often poorly maintained.
The young man sighs as he closes the fridge door in the dingy apartment that he has lived his entire life in, here on Wits' End Skulk. Despite its dinginess, it's surprisingly expansive, being the entire third floor atop a cluster of two-story shops. The building isn't that wide, so it's still fairly small, but Mantle still has no idea how his uncle managed it. Then again, as popular as Uncle Eq is, he's not surprised that the man has those kinds of connections.
Mantle: "I'll head on down to the market. Uncle Eq!"
There is no reply. Mantle checks all the rooms and finds no one.
Mantle: "Must be out. I'll write him a note."
He does so, before exiting to the stairwell that hugs the side of the building, locking the door behind him, and descending to join the eternal throng of people pressing the streets. The young man sticks out by virtue of not being a Fiolxon - the vulpine and feline race native to Coaleashion - but instead is human, or at least appears to be. He himself isn't certain whether he's actually human or not, but assumes he is in lieu of evidence otherwise.
He surveys the threads as he always does, doing it by habit and instinct, the observations coming easily to him. As usual, it's a chaotic tangle, and he finds it fascinating to watch. He spots a thread indicating a pickpocket, follows it with his gaze to the pickpocket, and sees that the pickpocket is a starving young woman. Going to the young woman, who shrinks back in surprise at being approached directly, he smiles in a friendly manner.
Mantle: "I'm going to the market. If you want come with me, I'll get you something to eat."
Surprise and wariness war on the woman's vulpine face.
Fiolxon Woman: "And what do you want for this? I'm not selling my body."
Mantle: "I don't want anything. I just noticed you're hungry and want to help. I'll buy you something, then we'll go our separate ways."
The woman is surprised, and appears to be debating internally, before her growling stomach wins. She hesitantly falls in step beside Mantle, and he slows his pace for her. He feels the thread of his coinpurse thrumming a bit, and thus knows that the woman is contemplating just snatching his coinpurse and making a run for it.
Mantle: "Please don't."
The thread stops thrumming, and he can practically feel the woman's surprise. She says nothing however, and Mantle lets it pass. Presently they arrive at the market, which is an open-air plaza full of stalls, merchants hawking their wares.
Mantle: "Pick a stall."
More surprise from her threads, but after only a moment, she makes a beeline for a stall selling meat pies. The merchant eyes her warily, noting how poor and ragged she is.
Fiolxon Woman: "One of these."
Merchant: "I'm not a charity, missy."
Mantle: "Two of them, please."
He sets down the coins for them. The merchant greedily snatches them up and bites them between his teeth, before nodding. Mantle picks up the two largest meat pies and gives them to the woman, who immediately begins devouring them. Mantle smiles gently and gives her a nod, before disappearing into the crowd to find the fruits and vegetables he wants to stock his larder with. While perusing the stock of one particular stall, he notices a dark thread the next stall over. A glance shows a man sneaking up to filch some jewelry while the merchant is turned away to speak to a customer.
The would-be thief's threads are not hungry. He is simply a thief whose belly is reasonably full, and wants something to finance wine and whores with. Mantle sets down the apple he was inspecting, and walks over to that stall, deliberately placing himself between the would-be thief and the jewelry. The threads around him jangle with irritation. The merchant looks over from the customer he's speaking to.
Jewelry Merchant: "Look to your heart's content, sir! Have a lady in mind? I'll be right with you- Hey you! What are you doing!"
He has noticed the would-be thief skulking behind Mantle, who runs off while throwing a glare in Mantle's direction.
Mantle: "I'm sorry, sir, I don't think I'll be getting something today. Sorry to bother you."
He goes back to the fruit stall.
A short while later he's on his way back to his home, carrying a bag of food under one arm. He comes to a stop in the middle of a traffic jam, so to speak, a crowd of people not moving. His eyes follow the threads of irritation and fear and awe, and notes that one of the skulk's minor nobles is coming down the street, his guards forcing people out of the way. Mantle shrugs and ducks through an alley as a detour.
An alley detour is usually a risky venture, and so it is today, for before Mantle reaches the end of the alley, the would-be jewelry thief from earlier steps into his path, holding out a sharp knife.
Would-Be Thief: "You cost me a fine piece, your maneless cur."
Mantle can't help but take some offense. "Maneless" is a common, if severe, insult among Fiolxon, who pride themselves on their manes. Even Uncle Eq, despite not being a Fiolxon, prides himself on his mane, and as a result of his upbringing amidst these people, Mantle has styled his blonde hair into something resembling a long golden mane, and takes a measure of pride in it.
Mantle: "I like to think my mane is decent, considering I didn't have the fortune to be born a Fiolxon."
He doesn't care about not being a Fiolxon, but he tries to be diplomatic when he can. The would-be thief's threads, however, show he won't be mollified, but it's nevertheless a matter of principle for Mantle.
Would-Be Thief: "I don't know how, but you got in my way deliberately. I can tell. I'm not gonna let that pass. How about I relieve you of your coin purse?"
Mantle sighs. The thief's threads show that he won't be persuaded otherwise, so he doesn't bother trying to negotiate.
Would-Be Thief: "I was sorta hoping you'd say that."
The thief's threads give away his attack before his motions do, and so Mantle is already ducking to the side as the knife thrusts out. His free hand slams down on the thief's forearm at just the right angle, and he grunts in pain, the knife clattering from nerveless fingers. The thief's threads twist wildly, but Mantle is an expert at reading them, and is already moving to counter the thief's imminent fist.
In a short time, the thief is crumpled on the groan, clutching his stomach and groaning in pain.
Would-Be Thief: "Emp damn you..."
Mantle: "Find a better way to finance your wine and whores. Maybe find something better to spend coin on than wine and whores, in fact."
This is why alley shortcuts aren't particularly risky a venture for Mantle. He strides off, and is soon back at his home. He goes inside and is met by his uncle.
Uncle Eq: "There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you!"
Mantle: "I left you a note."
Uncle Eq: "Who has time to read? That fridge was too full of booze, so I had to get busy emptying it!"
This much is clear, as the horse-headed man is clutching a bottle, and there's already another empty bottle on the couch behind him.
Mantle: "Let me put this up before it spoils, Uncle."
Uncle Eq: "Alright. But then we're gonna have a night on the town together!"
Mantle throws his horse-headed uncle a look. Well, not biological uncle, clearly, but that's what Eq always said to call him, and Mantle thinks of him as family, having been raised by him.
Mantle: "We are? Why?'
Uncle Eq: "Because it's your 21st birthday of course! We're gonna make a man out of you! I'm gonna take you to the best tavern around, get you wasted, and then get you laid! I'll pay for it, don't worry."
Mantle rolls his eyes but also smiles fondly at his uncle's eternal exuberance as he finishes putting up the food he bought, before turning back to his uncle.
Mantle: "Uncle Eq, you know I'm not interested in any of that."
Uncle Eq: "Sure, you've always said that, but just wait till you get there! You'll be thanking me. No one knows how to party like me!"
That much is true, the horse-headed man is a fairly well known party planner on the Wits' End Skulk, though his parties tend to be more impromptu than planned affairs.
Mantle: "You know I'd like to spend time with you, but I really have no interest in drinking or whoring around."
Uncle Eq: "Look, if it's guys you want, I won't judge. There are plenty of gay whores you know!"
Mantle: "What? No, Uncle, that's not it. I just... I don't know how to explain it. It'd have to be someone special, I guess."
Uncle Eq: "Trust me, the whores at the place I'm taking you are pretty special!"
Mantle sighs longsufferingly, but is nonetheless soon steered outside by his uncle. The young man knows he'll have fun despite his refusal to drink and whore around, because Uncle Eq is a pretty cool dude despite his own tendencies towards such things. He's rather surprised when Uncle Eq takes him to one of Wits' End Skulk's ports though.
Mantle: "We're going to a tavern on a different skulk?"
He's only rarely been off Wit's End Skulk in his life.
Uncle Eq: "Nope. I'm taking you to a pride, son."
Mantle perks up with interest. He's never been to a pride. He and Eq board a small schooner, whose Fiolxon pilot is an amiable chap despite interspersing colorful curse words into every sentence. Mantle's eyes are alight as he watches the vast array of threads in the Gnarled Leash as the magnetic flux sprays around them much like sea spray might.
Mantle: "Watch out! A rip tide there!"
The threads up ahead clearly indicate that to his eyes, but the Fiolxon navigator gives him a funny look.
Fiolxon Navigator: "What? How by Highemp's flaming left big toe would you know?"
Uncle Eq: "Listen to him. My nephew has a knack for noticing things."
The Fiolxon shrugs and steers wide of the riptide.
Fiolxon Navigator: "You know I'm charging by distance traveled, right? That wide detour just added a few more coins' worth of distance."
Uncle Eq: "You know I'm good for it. I can pay in credits today if you prefer.
Fiolxon Navigator: "Maybe half and half."
The poorer skulks tend to use coins as currency, but the richer prides, with more access to Remnant resources and technology, use the standard High Imperial credit system. Thus those who tend to frequent both prides and skulks use both currencies.
Several planetoids are passed before they finally reach the head of the Gnarled Leash, and the schooner takes a dip around part of the Broken Leash before sailing out into the wide flux of the Master Leash. There are far more prides than skulks on the Master Leash.
Mantle: "Wait... Uncle, we're going to a pride on the Master Leash?"
Mantle jaw actually drops. The Ivory Pride is the largest and most splendid planetoid in Coaleashion, and its capital, where the king and joint House council reign. Even as the schooner sails into port, Mantle's eyes widen as he surveys the city, which is almost entirely constructed of towering crystal. He continues to gawk as Uncle Eq leads him through the city to a bustling tavern, which while clearly rich is also clearly bawdy.
Uncle Eq: "Two glasses of the good stuff! It's my nephew's 21st birthday today!"
Mantle: "Just one. I'm not drinking."
Uncle Eq: "You'll break my heart, Mantle. Make it two anyway, I'll drink both!"
Mantle watches the crowd with interest. So many threads, and with such vibrancy! There's dancing and singing going on, a few jugglers, and plenty of laughter and carousing.
Uncle Eq: "I take it this means I can't convince you to get laid either?"
Mantle: "Sorry, Uncle."
Uncle Eq: "So... see anything interesting?"
Mantle knows his uncle is referring to what Mantle calls the threads. He's seen them all his life, lines of light and color that no one else can see, but which indicate pretty much everything, from emotions to physical phenomena and anything else. Individuals have them, objects have them, places have them, the stars in the sky have them. Even empty space is full of them! His horse-headed uncle always refuses to speculate on what the threads are, but Mantle suspects that he has at least some idea.
Mantle: "Always. Uncle... if you really want to do something special for my 21st birthday... tell me about my parents."
Uncle Eq sighs, and takes a swig before answering.
Uncle Eq: "You deserve answers, I know. You've always deserved them. But I still can't tell you. It will cause nothing but trouble."
Mantle: "But why?"
It's an old conversation, one they've had many times.
Uncle Eq: "If I told you why, that'd be as good as telling you who they are."
Mantle: "Can you at least tell me why they named me Mantle?"
Uncle Eq: "Maybe I can do that. For starters, it wasn't they who named you, it was just your mother. Your father saw you as an achievement, didn't really care about you as a person. And your mother... My understanding is that it's a double meaning. One, she saw you as a mantle of her shame."
Mantle: "What? She was ashamed of me?!"
Uncle Eq: "I'm sorry, Mantle. But you're man enough to know that now. But the other meaning is that she also saw you as a mantle of her glory."
Mantle: "That makes no sense."
Uncle Eq: "Both of your parents were proud people. And they used to both be good people. But trust me, by the time they had you, they weren't the sort of people anyone would want to know. Certainly not fit to raise you, even if they hadn't gone and gotten themselves killed. But your mother had enough humanity left in her to recognize that she was on a dark path, though she couldn't, or wouldn't turn away from it. Hence you were a mark of shame too, for that part of her that still held a spark of good. But that same spark of good meant she loved you deeply."
Mantle: "Thank you for telling me, Uncle."
Uncle Eq: "I'm sorry it's not really what you wanted to hear."
Mantle: "Did... did either of them see the threads?"
Uncle Eq: "Not that they told me. But it's not like they ever confided anything in me. I was only loosely acquainted with them."
Mantle: "What? Then how--"
Uncle Eq: "They were notorious, I knew them well enough. They abandoned you, before going to their deaths. I choose to believe that your mother was giving you up though, that small part of her recognizing that you would be better off without them. In my business, I hear things from everyone, so I heard about you, and knew what I had to do."
Mantle: "But you raised me yourself, instead of finding me another home. You didn't have to. Thank you, Uncle, that... that really means a lot."
Uncle Eq: "Yeah, and here you are repaying me by refusing to drink or get laid!"
They both chuckle, the tension lessened.
There's a bit of a stir then, as a new patron comes into the inn. He's a Fiolxon, whose rich raiment and pure white fur mark him as a member of nobility. Mantle is surprised that there's no bowing and scraping however, but a look at the man's threads tell him why. This noble is a bit of a rascal, who regularly mingles with the common folk rather than having the haughtiness most nobles do.
Uncle Eq: "Baron Gaknisard Go. Say hello."
Mantle: "What? Why?"
Uncle Eq: "Maybe he can convince you to get laid."
Mantle rolls his eyes, but his uncle's threads show that the horse-headed man has a deeper intent. He shrugs inwardly and goes over. The baron - who looks to be about Mantle's age, or perhaps a couple years older - is already sitting at a dice table and throwing dice with extraordinary luck. And no wonder: the Fiolxon's threads show that he is blessed with extraordinary luck indeed.
Baron Go: "Ha! Double sixes again! Hey, friend! Care to try your luck!"
Mantle: "I don't think there's anyone in Coaleashion who can beat your luck."
Baron Go: "Smart fellow! But have you met everyone in Coaleashion then?"
Mantle: "No, not by a long shot."
The baron studies Mantle for a moment, throwing his next pair of dice without looking. There's laughter from spectators and groans from his opponents as the dice turn up on sixes again.
Baron Go: "Who are you?"
It's more than just a request for introductions. The baron senses something about Mantle.
Mantle: "I don't know. But I go by Mantle."
Baron Go: "Ha! Good answer. Maybe I can help you figure out who you are."
Mantle furrows his brow.
Baron Go: "I know a bloke who specializes in the impossible."
Mantle: "Er, okay?"
Baron Go: "He's a hoot. Always turning water into the best wine I've had, but it never causes hangovers, because once he leaves, it turns back into water, even the wine we've imbibed! So we're suddenly stone-cold sober, ha!"
Imhoptah: "The barkeep will kick me out if I do that here. Undercutting his business."
Baron Go: "Gah! Way to take a few years off my life, man! I didn't know you were here, where'd you come from?"
Even Mantle is shocked. The six-armed man just appeared from nowhere. Not just a simple teleport, but even the threads don't know what to make of him. His threads are knots within knots within knots, and even as Mantle's eyes follow them, he starts to get dizzy.
Imhoptah: "You want me for something important. No way I could possibly know that, so here I am."
Baron Go: "Ha! Told you, Mantle, that's what he does! This here is Imhoptah, a hundred-armed smith."
Mantle: "I'm sorry for your loss."
Indeed the knotted threads do indicate that he once had 94 more arms.
Imhoptah: "I'm fine. A hecatoncheires could never get over such a loss, so naturally I'm over it."
Mantle is starting to get the gist of Imhoptah's impossible logic, but it's still mentally straining.
Imhoptah: "Interesting threads you see."
Mantle: "What? You see them too?"
Baron Go: "What is this now?"
Imhoptah: "No, I don't see them, but I can tell you can."
Mantle: "Could either of my parents see them? Is that where I get them from?"
Imhoptah: "Neither of them could see the threads, you are unique in that regard. But you did get it from them. A synthesis of their abilities in you."
Mantle: "How on Coaleashion could you know that?"
Imhoptah: "I couldn't. Hence, I do."
Uncle Eq: "I forgot that I have to be way more drunk whenever I'm dealing with you."
Imhoptah: "Oh hello, HG! Didn't know you frequented these parts. Thought the parties here weren't wild enough for you."
Uncle Eq grins.
Uncle Eq: "With me here, they get wild enough!"
Baron Go: "I know you. Didn't I see you at my cousin's bachelor party last month?"
Uncle Eq: "Sure did!"
Mantle: "But Imhoptah, does this mean you know who my parents--"
Tsou de Ming: "This is a stick-up!"
There's a commotion as the tall green-skinned pirate woman stalks in, wielding a blaster pistol.
She instantly finds several blasters pointed at her from the patrons.
Tsou de Ming: "Ha! Just what I was hoping for. Look, think you fellows can help a girl out? I'm being followed, and if I cut out the back, that means they'll come in. Hold them off for me, will you?"
Some raucous laughter assents, and she blows everyone a kiss before dashing through and cutting out the back. Before Mantle can recover himself to try asking Imhoptah his question again, Peter Capaldi bursts in.
He finds blasters pointed at him.
12th Doctor: "Guns, always guns. What is it with you people and guns?"
Mantle is astonished by the man's threads, they are complex indeed!
12th Doctor: "Look, if you've heard any whooshing noises, or seen a pair of fishy blokes come through here, tell me! Don't make me use my eyebrows!"
Baron Go: "Oh, guess you're not after that green chick then."
All the blasters are holstered.
12th Doctor: "Haven't seen them then? Drat the luck."
He ducks back outside. Mantle turns back to Baron Go, but then two men burst in. Blasters are immediately pointed at them.
Soriel: "Ready for a fight right away? My kind of place."
Highemp: "Dammit, this was her plan! Stall us before we can get back the TARDIS she stole."
Soriel: "To be fair, we stole it too, so maybe it's karma."
Highemp: "Karma gets along with me too well for that."
Baron Go: "Funny, I often say the same thing."
The Fiolxon noble strides up to the two cloaked swordsmen nonchalantly.
Highemp: "Cosplayer? What are you on about?"
Imhoptah: "This would be an awkward conversation to have."
Highemp: "You! I didn't know you ever left Majaethrix."
Imhoptah: "From time to time."
Highemp: "But hey, good thing I ran into you! I love this place's crystal vibe. When I found my capital and get you to build it, think you can work in that sort of design?"
Uncle Eq: "I can safely say I didn't see that coming."
Soriel: "First things first, Highemp. Stealing back the TARDIS we stole?"
Highemp: "Right. Ciao folks!"
Baron Go: "Sorry, chaps, but we can't let you through."
Soriel: "Oh good! A reason to fight!"
Highemp: "She's a thief and a pirate!"
Baron Go: "So? Common pastimes around here."
Soriel: "Enough talk."
Soriel slashes at the baron with lightning speed, but the baron nimbly dodges aside. Soriel looks utterly shocked, but keeps attacking. Again and again he keeps missing. Mantle sees Baron Go's threads, and thus knows that it's not a matter of the Fiolxon baron having immense reflexes and speed, but a matter of his practically miraculous luck.
Highemp: "This is a job for--"
Highemp: "--a true master of power!"
A sword composed entirely of pure white energy flashes into existence in his hand, and slashes at Baron Go quicker than thought. Mantle is utterly astonished to see the sword cutting through the baron's threads of luck, severing them entirely! The swing finishes with a shallow cut in the baron's arm.
Baron Go: "Yeowch! What the Tartarus?!"
He's clearly in pain and shock, having never been touched in combat before. The patrons of the tavern are all staring in horror, for the baron is widely known as untouchable.
Highemp: "That was a warning. Let us through."
Mutely, the crowd parts.
Soriel: "Oh come on! I wanted a fight!"
Highemp drags him through the tavern and out the back.
Baron Go: "Barkeep? A round for everyone, on me!"
The tavern cheers, restored to its normal good humor, as the baron slumps down in his chair. He's not pained so much as he is numb with the shock of his luck failing him. Mantle looks at him in concern, seeing the tattered threads dangling loosely.
Before he can say anything, the door bursts open again, as Matt Smith comes in, wearing a Fez.
11th Doctor: "Alright, where are they? Stole my TARDIS yet again, but what's worse is that they haven't at least returned it! I mean, that's just the polite thing to do!"
Mantle is astonished to see, via the threads, that this man is the same one as Peter Capaldi. Baron Go points out the back door in response to Matt Smith's question, who nods in thanks and dashes out.
11th Doctor: "Yes?"
Mantle: "Your fez is pretty cool."
Matt Smith's face breaks out into a broad grin. He doesn't know it, but Mantle saw his fez-loving thread.
11th Doctor: "I know, right?"
Then he is gone. Mantle turns back to Baron Go, who has patched up his cut with some crystal nanites, healing it instantly and scarlessly. He's still a bit listless.
Mantle isn't even surprised when the tavern door bursts open again before he can say anything.
Xerxes Rumplekirk: "Has anyone seen Suzy?"
Aellah: "You know no one else knows who you mean when you call her that."
Mantle stares in surprise at these two men's threads. The first has threads of plot armor, and the second has threads of eternal super happiness.
Xerxes Rumplekirk: "Right. Tall three-eyed green pirate woman?"
Instantly blasters are pointed at them.
Aellah: "Why am I not surprised?"
Xerxes Rumplekirk: "Oh, come on, don't be like that, folks!"
Uncle Eq: "She's a charmer, what can I say?"
Xerxes Rumplekirk: "I know! Which is why I'm so disappointed she stood me up. I just want to see her!"
The blasters are withdrawn, and the patrons jerk their thumbs towards the back door.
Aellah: "True romantics at heart! Thank you all, Xerxes will be very happy to see her."
Uncle Eq: "Good luck on your date!"
Then the two are gone. Baron Go picks up a pair of dice and throws them.
They are not sixes.
Everyone looks to see David Tennant bursting in.
10th Doctor: "You see, it's just that I thought I was the last one, but I've seen no less than two other TARDISes here! And they're both using the same chameleon circuit pattern that I am!"
A glance at his threads tells Mantle what's going on with him, that he's an earlier incarnation of the same man as the Fez and the Eyebrows.
Mantle: "It's complicated. You might be able to find out if you head out the back."
10th Doctor: "Thanks!"
David Tennant freezes in his tracks.
10th Doctor: "What did you say?"
Mantle: "Sorry, I shouldn't have said anything. But it's just so obvious that you're hurting."
Tennant is silent for a moment, staring at Mantle.
10th Doctor: "Obvious, huh? I'll have to work on that."
Then he too is gone. Of course, there's no way he can hide his threads from Mantle, which is what made his hurt obvious to the young man.
Baron Go: "Emp damn it!"
Mantle turns around to see the Fiolxon baron raising his fist in frustration at the sight of the non-sixes dice, and bringing it down, ready to slam into the table.
In that moment, something crystallizes inside Mantle. It seems so obvious, so simple to him. He reaches out with mental fingers and touches the tattered threads, weaving them back together into a seamless whole.
The baron's fist hits the table, and the dice bounce... and land on double sixes. He stares at them, then picks them up and throws them again. Double sixes. He throws them again several times, and every time it's double sixes.
Baron Go: "YES!"
Imhoptah: "Most curious, Mantle."
Uncle Eq: "You did something, didn't you? Well, I guess that's sufficiently momentous for your 21st birthday, even if you refused to get laid or wasted."
Mantle: "Imhoptah - that Highemp cosplayer - could he see the threads too?"
Imhoptah: "No, I don't think so. But he has great sight too, even if it is not the same as yours. And I wouldn't fret about him. Not too many people can sever threads like that, and he won't be a problem for long. Relatively speaking."
Uncle Eq: "Technically, he's already not a problem."
Mantle: "He really was Highemp, wasn't he?"
Uncle Eq: "Not out loud, son. But yes. From his earlier days, as a wanderer. He was much less of a git then."
He takes another swig.
Uncle Eq: "Well, time for you to be off then!"
Mantle: "Huh? What do you mean?"
Uncle Eq: "You've got a power now. You can actually use those threads, if I understand right. I always knew I'd never be able to keep you isolated forever. Just hope you've got a good head on your shoulders."
Mantle: "I do, Uncle. Thanks to you."
Uncle Eq: "Sometimes in spite of me, more like, eh? Ha!"
Mantle: "But where should I go? What should I do?"
Uncle Eq: "That's up to you. But I'd suggest Imhoptah here as a tour guide."
Imhoptah: "I'm an impossible smith, not a tour guide."
Uncle Eq: "You're not telling me no, are you?"
Imhoptah: "...no, I'm not. But at least don't call me a tour guide. Where do you want to go, Mantle?"
Mantle hugs his horse-head uncle farewell, and shakes Baron Go's hands. Then he turns to the six-armed smith.
Mantle: "Thanks, Imhoptah. I... I don't suppose we can go see my parents? Before they died?"
Imhoptah: "Maybe someday. But not now."
Mantle: "Alright. Um... somewhere where I can help people? And hopefully with lots of interesting new threads."
Imhoptah: "Sounds good. Let's duck into the bathroom then."
Mantle: "Huh? Why? That doesn't lead anywhere."
Imhoptah: "Exactly. That's why this will work."
He opens the bathroom door and steps through, shoving Mantle in ahead of him. But instead of a tavern bathroom, he's on a new planet entirely, far away from Coaleashion.
His journey has begun.
NOTE: Anyone can feel free to write for Mantle, but please don't give him any other powers besides seeing, and now weaving, "threads", and don't expound on his origins any, because I have a very specific idea for that. He doesn't really have a purpose right now, just wants to help people and see new things and maybe find a purpose in life too. The idea is that he'll be traveling with Imhoptah across the multiverse, at least for now.
He won't be a wanderer forever though, so he's not just another Xerxes/Aellah-style or Highemp/Soriel-style wanderer. But for now, if you write him, please just write him as a wanderer. Thanks!