Istvan Czernin is the best surgeon in the world, an avatar of the First World War, and—tangled in shattered pieces between the two—the shade of a man, a 44-year-old Austro-Hungarian who met an accidental and gruesome end in 1904. Driven to heal and harm in distressingly equal measure since his apotheosis, he has been involved in nearly every major war of the 20th century. To allies, he was a miracle-worker; to enemies, a whirlwind of blood and wire.
In the present day, the Twelfth Hour regards him as one of their most valuable and dangerous assets, to the point where he is metaphysically chained to the organization and strictly limited in choice and movement. Istvan resents this but does realize that being incorporeal, indestructible, and capable of outpacing a jet fighter before ripping it apart from the inside-out encourages a certain measure of caution.
Torn between his love for violence and his desire to be a decent human being, Istvan prefers to turn his talents to his surgical work. He is able to draw off the pain and suffering of others, which to him acts as a stimulant and in sufficient quantities a narcotic (he has been known to act almost drunk in battle, though his tolerance is high enough it takes a massacre to severely affect his thinking and judgement), and can reach inside patients with no need for a scalpel and no worry of bacterial contamination. He is very proud of his skills and reputation, and likes to think of the lives he’s saved as a counterbalance to the lives he’s taken.
Istvan is brash, passionate, quick to anger, quicker to boredom, and extremely talkative, playing up his unsettling nature and violent history whenever he gets the chance. Despite this, he isn’t fond of what he is and is prone to bouts of self-deprecation and depression in private. Some have cited him as a bit of a drama queen, and that’s not far off the mark—he’s mercurial at best, and veers inevitably into dangerous extremes. He adores martial concepts like honor, glory, and self-sacrifice… and is simultaneously bitter of the reality, pessimistic and cynical. His sense of humor is pitch-black, and he isn’t above scaring the wits out of unwary newcomers. He’s fascinated with the new and exciting and has invented a variant of chess involving cannons, battleships, and zeppelins.A master embroiderer, he’s much more soft-hearted than he likes to admit.
Wizard, librarian, and self-styled superhero, Edmund Templeton was born in 1919, fought in WWII, and sometime in the late fifties adopted the moniker he's held ever since: the Hour Thief, one of the most powerful, feared, and respected wizards on the Twelfth Hour roster. Thanks to extremely dark and forbidden magic performed in his distant youth, he is able to snatch away moments through verbal traps and spend them on linguistic tricks that allow him to dodge bullets just in time, literally live on borrowed time, and be effectively unkillable (“not my time to die”). He has been thirty-five for the last seventy years.
Unfortunately, he's also trapped himself in a karmic Catch-22: Edmund relies on the time he takes from foes to survive, and every moment he rips away is another mark on his soul. After so long, death is certain damnation and he knows it. Therefore, he has made it his goal to live forever, doing what good he can in a material eternity and trying not to think about the likelihood that he will eventually go mad.
His Hour Thief persona is famous for wit, charm, impossible speed, and eldritch mystery, traits that have won him many battles over the years. He's handsome enough that it has become a running joke in the Twelfth Hour, and he has accumulated a long list of former lovers (all short-term, all selected in the hope he wouldn't get too attached). A classic man in black: dashing, dangerous, and untouchable.
Beneath the hat and mask, however, Edmund is best described as steady. Maybe even stolid. His patience is remarkable, as is his ability to pretend everything is fine. Curiosity, in his experience, leads to nothing but a bad end—and consequentially he has zero desire to leave his comfort zone. He's seen things. On especially bad days, he still does. He's a heavy drinker, and not the social kind. Faced with such constant terrors inside and out, he's learned to focus on the small things in life (the dull things, some would say) and at the end of the day all he wants is a well-thumbed Sherlock Holmes novel, his customary glass of gin, and the quiet to enjoy both.
Much to the despair of his colleagues, he is an insufferable punster and will correct grammar in any of several dozen languages. He has a cat named Beldam.