Cotton Colinaude is the Eidolon, masked protector of Traverse, AL. He happens to have a problem, in that he's not a happy hero...
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"The Cloak of Shrouded Men" is a book written in three acts, each representing a different period in the life of Cotton Colinaude. The first act details Cotton's downward spiral as a hero, a day in which a single case brings a number of elements that converge in a single epiphany. An old foe becomes an ally, and an old ally becomes a foe, but neither of these people matter so much as the man who will force him to the breaking point.
In the second act, Cotton has become a broken man, splintered within himself and questioning everything, until he speaks with two men convinced they have the knowledge he will need to continue.
In the third act, Cotton has fallen in the middle of a war, and it will be his actions, once again, that will determine the outcome and finally settle the matter of whether he has truly fallen from grace or whether he's become a greater hero than the world has ever known.
At the bar he would one day inherit, when everyone else had abandoned it, Lincoln discovered that it was easier to find himself when he allowed others to come to him. Amidst the clamor of the clinking bottles and the hustling at the pool table, he found that in this confusion he was able to arrange order within his own mind. In the utter honesty of this environment, he could finally learn what it was that drove men’s hearts. It was in this way that he first heard the rumors of the Dread Poet, a forgotten icon of a bygone era, who nonetheless was said to possess the fountain of all knowledge, which he dedicated his life to unearthing. The men who spoke of the Poet knew him only as a legend, a figure who blessed the history of the city, and in turn its people, both from the past and in its present. They offered him blessings, and this was their sanctuary to perform the ritual, because it was the only place that would accept such arcane gestures. But Lincoln found word of the man elsewhere, too. On the subway, where travelers in the city were only concerned about destinations, he learned that the Poet had another name, too, and still other names. He was Tekamthi, he was Siddhartha, he was Sun Tzu, and he was Hammurabi. He was all of these, and he was none of these. He was no legend, but a man, who kept a library, one which would, in time, be lost, and become that legend after all. His time was drawing near, and Lincoln had only one decision left. He would seek this man, and discover his secrets.
When he had done this, he found the Poet’s lair abandoned and the library ripe, and with its revelations, he discovered that the secrets were kept here for a reason, kept away, the sum of a lifetime left to rot because of what its librarian had discovered. The Dread Poet had learned that the world destroys what it cannot handle. His work was useless, but his legacy was not. Passed on, as he knew it would be, if not by his own disciples, and surely there were, then by those who would discovery this treasure hidden beneath the earth, interpreted, maybe, for new meaning, but treasured all the same. And once he had learned all he could, Lincoln burned the lair hollow, as he knew the Poet would have wanted. He vowed that day that he would carry on the work in the only way he knew how.
Once born, Cockeye took on the world with his skewed perspective as another vigilante on the streets of Traverse, in time for a war to engulf it as the Dread Poet’s lair had been, in fire, which was destined to consume it. He had his own goals, of course, but his only objective was to perform the deeds of a selfless martyr, who would sacrifice himself for the cause of others. And now that goal becomes one of self-preservation, because the war demands its toll be paid until it has been quenched. Barracuda, who has taken his share of flesh, has become the last lightning rod in the city, and he will be struck.
Unity, meanwhile, Odin Roy, who stole the heart of Elizabeth Mueller and in doing so led the final chain of events that only the Staged Man was able to untangle, has put his sights on the same villain, Barracuda, who fights for the same reasons as Unity and his brethren, but without honor, without integrity. Unity opposes the sheer presumption of telling someone who operates within the system that they’re wrong, even though the system supports them. He opposes those who believe they are better than the system, who believe it is their right to rewrite that system, or operate outside of it because they don’t believe in it, even though they claim they have only its values in mind, its best interests. He doesn’t believe that, he doesn’t believe that they have the right. He believes that people must be punished when they break rules within the system, but by the system itself, so that the order that is being maintained might be seen to be working. He believes that the system is imperfect because it is meant to be broken, but from within, and not from without. That is what his family has been doing. That is what he has been doing. He has bent, perhaps, even broken the rules, when he has claimed things that are not his, or withheld when it is wrong. That is what happened to his cousin, the one who was there that day when the Eidolon thought he killed Odin himself. He had been there to reason with his cousin, because he thought, in that moment, that was the easiest way to resolve the issues that had come between them, not relenting, as he should have, but to help his cousin see terms that would benefit both of them.