Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?
darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.
Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
Walter was fond of early mornings at the park. He had been disappointed the first few times he'd come in how many people there were around at that time of day. Joggers, dog walkers, cyclists, and those who wanted to get to work just that bit before everyone else. He had hoped he'd have the place to himself, but clearly city living didn't include a solitude option. However, the people he met at this time were, for the most part, much more agreeable to be around. The hushed aura seemed a lovely by product of everyone's effort not to bother each-other. Whenever people were thrown together, for whatever reason, they interacted with a respect and calmness sadly lacking for every other part of the day.
Truth was, though, he hadn't even intended to train at the park this morning. He'd been practising in his room at home. But he'd had a rather maudlin, vodka fuelled evening the night before and the bad vibes hadn't yet had time to properly dissipate. For all of his pragmatism, Walter preferred to keep a positive mindset when he trained. That wasn't really quite possible right now. Hence, the park.
Dropping his holdall roughly onto the grass, Walter took off his jacket, folded it and laid it neatly atop his bag. This left him dressed in baggy canvas trousers. Once they may have been colourful and vibrant, but years of washing had faded them to a dirty off-white hue. A ragged cord hung from the waist, whiter than the trousers themselves. The cord matched Walter's sleeveless top which was white also. It looked like it may once have had sleeves, but they had been ripped off at the seams.
Walter stood for a moment in a relaxed posture. Eyes closed with hands by his sides, he took slow, deep breaths as the yellow morning sun warmed his weathered face. The light breeze tugged at his long fringe and buffeted the legs of his trousers. Other than the rising and falling of his impressively muscular chest, though, no movement or reaction could be discerned from the Scandinavian as he breathed in the cool, crisp air and exhaled his tension and stress.
The stillness was ended as his arms rose up either side of him and his palms, face down moved together slightly and pressed down from his chest to his lower abdomen. In doing so, his torso rose a little before with what would seem to those who know him as an uncharacteristic flourish he stepped forward with one foot, twisted his torso and his arms fell into a 'guard' position.
He began to pace a circle, his torso turned and his focus pinned upon the centre. As his movements got faster, it became difficult to separate what the different parts of his body were doing. Hands, torso and legs all moving with each-other in what appeared more of a dance than anything.
As his solo dance continued, the expression on his face was serene and even held a smile. Again something totally uncharacteristic for anyone who'd known him, or heard about him prior to this moment. His face now seeming kinder and more affable than ever, despite the increasing exertion he was apparently putting his body through.
The morning couldn't have been any better. The weather was beautiful, the sky was a pleasant, vibrant blue without even the slightest hint of a raincloud – and honestly, even the fluffy white clouds were quite the rarity currently. A perfect start for a day with just the right amount of warmth with a pleasant light breeze, it was no wonder that the park was filled with various kinds of people. Of course, many of them surely would have been there even if the weather had been worse, but the currently pleasant weather had to be the deciding factor for some. At least, for a certain one-eyed professor, that was exactly the case.
Sutha, always the early bird, found himself with a lot of free time on his hands when he had no classes to teach. After the morning chores, there just... Wasn't all that much to do, leaving the man in quite the predicament. Not doing anything felt like such a waste of time, and he was much too well-rested and active to take a nap now! Luckily, he was not confined to just his apartment, free to leave as he pleased. Why not take a walk when the day was so beautiful, a fact easily checked by just looking out the window? The greens of the park nearby were quite tempting, almost as if they called the mage into their soft embrace – so, why not?
The warmth of the sun against his face was a pleasant feeling, the rustling of the leaves in the trees was a pleasure to listen to as was the soft splashing of the water. The birds, their songs so carefree as they jumped from one branch to another. And of course, people. People of all ages were everywhere, doing whatever it was they were here to do. Exercise, walking dogs, it all caused some sounds that mixed in with those of the nature around them. From the distance one could still hear the cars occasionally if they really listened, but... The park was like a little piece of the untamed wilds planted right in the middle of the town. Of course, very tamed untamed wilds, with those perfectly clipped lawns and clean water features without any danger. At least, not when the sun was up.
Sutha was one of those people who really didn't fit the picture, but he didn't let that bother him. Already properly dressed into a brown three-piece suit and not in any hurry as he walked with a relaxed pace down the path, the cane in his right hand letting out a slightly harsher metallic sound compared to his shoes. The professor was quite deeply in his own thoughts and most likely would have just continued to walk for a while until he remembered he had to do something else, but something caught his interest. It was subtle at first, a nagging feeling that a face he saw was familiar until it hit him, causing the man to stop and properly turn around to the grassy path nearby. A man with gruff features and clothes Sutha could only assume were for workouts, that was when it hit him.
Wasn't that a person he had seen near the university? Tending the grounds, a gardener of some type? Now, the mage didn't want to call himself a creepy stalker, but... He did try to make sure he knew the names of those that worked at the school, just in case. This man's name, it almost escaped him as he thought back and tried to connect something to his face. For a moment Sutha still kept observing the other man's facial features as he tried to remember the name he surely had heard at some point, taking note of what was actually happening. The other man looked like he was concentrating quite hard, his movements well thought-out and calculated. It was mesmerizing, in its own way.
"Mr. von Richtofen," the elderly man pretty much thought out loud as the realization struck him, quite sure that he had gotten the name right. Then again, it wasn't very polite to keep staring at someone without saying a thing, so it was about time he made his own presence known. "I didn't know you were a dancer."
Still aware, despite his meditative state, the groundskeeper's face flickered in response to the new arrival's greeting. His breathing changed, becoming shallower and slowly increasing in tempo. Walter's eyes looked straight ahead as he stopped in his tracks.
His stretched out to his sides, palms upward. His rear foot stepped forward to land beside its partner. Walter then straightened his legs as his hands rose before pressing, palms downward, before his torso.
He didn't respond immediately, taking his time to regulate his breathing and centre himself before his manner became more natural again. A thin film of perspiration covered his face and forehead as he turned to regard the rather unique appearance of the gentleman standing before him.
"I try to regulate the rhythm of my movements as best I can, so I suppose that qualifies it as dancing, yes..." His tone is matter of fact and shows no fallout from having been disturbed in his practice.
[b]"I'm afraid you have me at something of a disadvantage, Mr....?", he waits for a response. Hopefully an introduction.
Sutha waited rather patiently for an answer, the gentle smile still on his lips. It was clear that he had been heard, the other man did react to it and his posture started to change, eventually looking more like he was in this moment, standing tall. When Mr. von Richtofen finally did reply, he didn't berate the professor for being wrong – in both cases, having guessed both the name and the, well, dancing. Perhaps it wasn't quite right, but it seemed to be right enough. The older man just smiled and nodded as he let both of his hands rest of the cane, not moving from his comfortable spot.
"Ah. Yes," the one-eyed professor seemed to realize something, chuckling softly. Even if he was the kind who tried to get to know everyone's name and face, not everyone was like that. And not anyone had the chance to do so, even if they wanted. "Sutharsan, no need to call me mister. I'm a professor at the university," Sutha replied and offered some knowledge that might explain a thing or two to von Richtofen, such as how he might have gotten to know the man in question. They both worked at the same place, kind of. "Though I suppose we haven't ever spoken before..."
Walter offers a smile and replies, "...Not that I am aware, no. Though we have met now." It is not apparent how forced the smile is, if at all. Walter's tone is a little low, but anyone who spoke of him would say first of all that he comes across as quite dour. So, perhaps, this is to be expected.
"So, Professor..." Walter opts for formality, it seems for the time being, rather than calling his new acquaintance by his given name. "What brings you out to the park this early? Hoping to catch some morning sunshine?"
At first, his question sounds almost accusatory. Like some kind of inquisitor questioning an enemy of the church. However, as his words continue, his tone softens a little. Whether that is down to a change in his demeanour or not is not fully apparent.
Fending off stiffness later in the day, Walter shakes of his arms and legs a little as they speak, though otherwise his attention is focused fully upon Sutharsan. His eyes gaze intently while he cools down his muscles after playing his Bagua.
The cool wind begins to pick up a little, stirring the looser parts of each gentleman's clothing. Perhaps feeling the chill, Walter bends down to pick up his jacket, allowing it to unfold. He then puts it on and pulls it a little tighter about him. The bright sunshine not quite managing to banish the cold this early in the day.
Sutha smiled in response and gave the other man a nod. They had met now indeed and that was what was important in life. He honestly knew next to nothing about this Mr. von Richtofen, but this was a great opportunity trying to get to know him. They rarely had a reason to interact on campus, after all. At least they managed to drive off any potential awkward silences by having those little obvious questions around, and the professor let out a soft chuckle as his motivation for coming to the park was questioned. A perfectly valid question.
"Ah, I have a habit of waking up early and I already ran out of things to do," he chuckled with a small smile as his single eye kept looking at the other man, "So rather than drive myself to madness by staying indoors, I felt like I should take a walk. It is a rather nice day," Sutha added, though even he couldn't ignore the chill he felt when the winds picked up, treacherously cold despite the sunny skies. At least his clothes were thick, but yes... An extra coat seemed like it could have been nice for these situations, just to warm up when the weather took a turn for the worse. He did like it when it was a bit warmer, after all.
"Though... I suppose it is a bit colder than it seems," the professor laughed softly and shook his head slightly. Not much the two of them could do about that, but when the wind stopped and the sun beamed down, it got a bit better again. In the middle of all the pleasantries, there was something that Sutha realized, his eye growing slightly wider as he did so. "Oh. But I hope I didn't interrupt something very important..."
"Seems the sun brought us both to the park, then?", Walter says, echoing Sutharsan's sentiment. As the wind dies down again, the groundskeeper finishes shaking off his arms and legs. The wind's only disturbance, the ruffling of the large Scandinavian's hair.
His new acquaintance seems concerned that his greeting might have been unwelcome. It was true that Walter generally preferred not to be disturbed, but he had been practically finished with his morning training routine, anyway. Besides, he had found himself more open to the idea of getting to know others since arriving at the University, and so the introduction had been quite welcome.
"No, not at all. Don't worry..." He then shrugs a little. "It is at once very important and not at all ."
Now, Walter is aware that some people appreciate and understand that kind of dichotomy. In his less affable moments, the groundskeeper would simply leave it there and move on, making some thinly-veiled excuse to leave.
There is a slightly pregnant pause before Walter continues, not really waiting to confirm the Professor's reaction to his 'Grasshopper-style' statement.
"I mean that... To me, my training is the most important thing I do. But I also accept It is something I do multiple times a day, so that particular session is not so important when my training is considered as a whole."
He then smiles and locks his gaze amicably with that of the Professor. "And, I also accept that however important to me, my training means very little to others... For the most part."
Sutha chuckled softly as the other man came to the conclusion that the sun had driven them both outside, nodding in agreement. That was how it was for him, and if it was the same for Mr. von Richtofen... Well, then that was how it was and there was nothing wrong with that. Who wouldn't like the spring and the approaching summer, after all? Of course such people existed, but the elderly professor did enjoy the warmth more than the cold, having grown up with the heat... And well, his bones and aching joints did not appreciate the chill.
He could continue to smile as he was assured that he hadn't interrupted anything too important and there was nothing to worry about – though such words were followed by the man claiming that what he had done was both important and not important. Sutha tilted his head slightly and raised his eyebrow in a questioning manner, still smiling though now clearly questioning if Mr. von Richtofen truly had meant what he had said about him not having to worry about bothering the man.
The truth seemed to be that he had interrupted something very important... But the man didn't seem to care about it too much. It was difficult for the professor to guess if that meant he should be leaving soon so he could let the other continue or if this interruption was pleasing enough to make continuing training seem like the better option... "Ah, yes, my apologies. I spoke before I thought," Sutha laughed quietly and shook his head gently, looking back at the man with that single eye of his, "Do you... Train for something in particular?"