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.
The skies were miserably grey, the air distastefully humid. Fat, cold droplets of water splashed down on top of Alex’s ratty hoodie, soaking him through to the skin. If he’d thought to check the forecast he would have stayed inside, or at the very least nicked himself a raincoat. Teleportation was right out of the question; he’d been up all night drinking and had the focus of a flea. Last time he’d tried to teleport with a mind so foggy, he’d nearly ended up in a wall. Instead Alex had resigned himself to trudging across campus in soggy clothes.
During his walk of solitude, Alex stewed on his problems. For weeks he’d had worries nagging in the recesses of his mind, but as the fall semester approached they grew louder and more insistent. Tuition would be due soon, and while he’d managed to acquire a modest scholarship, it wouldn’t pay for everything. It was up to Alex to make up the difference, and with no job prospects or references he was floundering. There was only one thing left to do, the one thing Alex was actually good at. Crime.
Head hung low and hands in his damp pockets, he walked into the library. It seemed like as good a place as any, busy, full of people who were too distracted to watch their belongings. He pulled his hood back, trying his best to look nonchalant as he perused a few books he had no intentions of ever actually reading. In the meantime he cast an inconspicuous rote allowing himself to see everything around him. In this way he chose his target, a young man near his age who was sitting at a nearby table. It wasn’t really the man he was after, but the phone that was sitting on the table next to him. Phones were easy to pocket, and fairly easy to resell.
“Hey.” Alex said, quietly enough not to raise any eyebrows in the quiet library as he approached the young man. “I’m uh, new here. Do you know where the bathroom is in this place?” When he assumed the young man was sufficiently distracted, Alex slipped the phone off of the table and palmed it in one swift, practiced motion.
The Library was always a place of silent introspection and joy. Even on dark, cloudy days such as these Mark could meander through the maze of shelves and glance upon classics from Homer, Dostoevsky, Tolkien, Lewis, and Twain. The building had become one of the sophomores newest haunts since his transfer to the campus.
The generally lazy mage was an avid reader and though he'd often go out of his way to avoid reading books for classes he adored leisure reading. He'd retreated to a small table in a forlorn corner of the main lobby and had his nose buried in "Crime and Punishment", a Russian Literature class by aforementioned Fyodor Dostoevsky. Every now and then he'd give a brief grin at the book and nod as if he were a character within its very pages. So far the day was coming up swell...
... Then he was approached. At first, for several moments, he ignored the young man who had prodded him metaphorically. Then with the completion of a long Slavic sentence he looked up and pondered the question for several moments. "They're on the otherside of that shelf behind the desk." He'd point in the direction with half-hearted gusto before looking to the written word again. Marcus was neither rude or friendly... just indifferent and very, very distracted. It wouldn't be difficult at all for the ruffian to pocket his cell-phone perched atop a second book he was surveying to check out.
Several moments later, however, Marcus would peak up and reach to grab the device to check for texts, emails, or any of the like. It was here he noted his mistake. "Mother fucker!" He hissed out, suddenly thrashing the quite atmosphere of the building apart. Half a second later he stood up and looked back and forth for the man who'd asked him directions.
Alex didn’t care one whit whether or not Marcus engaged him during their brief exchange. It was better this way really, less of a chance that his face would be remembered, recognized, and reported. Stealing the phone was disgustingly easy. Honestly, Alex had long ago stopped caring about the ethics of stealing. If they were stupid enough to leave their phone sitting out on a table where anyone could walk up and take it, they didn’t deserve to have a phone.
“Thanks bro.” Alex mumbled and walked away in the direction Marcus had sent him. He strolled casually so not as to raise any alarm. The plan was simple, walk towards the bathroom and then veer off towards the exit. Marcus would have to notice his missing phone at some point, hopefully later rather than sooner.
As Alex stepped past the desk and bookshelf he heard the unmistakable sound of a man realizing he’d been swindled. Phone in hand, Alex took a moment to evaluate his handiwork. It was a decent phone, enough to buy him a textbook or a couple weeks worth of meals. Satisfied, he headed for the door.
His lollygagging had done him no favors. Alex looked up to see Marcus scanning the room for him. Their eyes met briefly and for half a second Alex froze like a deer in headlights. It wasn’t often that he got caught, but this was apparently going to be one of those times.
With a burst of speed, Alex raced for the exit. With his full weight behind it, the door burst open and slammed back against the side of the library. “Hahaha, sucker!” He shouted gleefully as he descended a half flight of stairs in two long bounds, and sprinted off across campus.
Marcus made eye contact rather quickly with the man he'd given directions to several moments again. Thoughts passed through his mind, his memory was searched, but in his absent-minded drawl to return to his book he honestly barely remembered a face!.. That is until the kid bolted.
With sudden strength and vigor Mark darted through the library lobby towards the door, further adding to the scene and making several students unhappy as he flurried past their sitting places with a heavy stomp of sneakers or barging right into one.
His feet hit the cement outside and he yelled at the would-be thief: "Hey! Give me back my phone or I'll make you eat yours." There was quite a bit of rage behind that voice... The kind of rage he obviously felt he could back up as he sprinted full-force towards Alexander. He'd cheat! Marcus tapped into the energies flowing through his Awakened body to access a rote: Transform Self. He could feel the muscles in his legs expand and then constrict like steel wires, hardening, becoming more focused and sending him faster step by step. His lungs twisted and grew, more breath able to fill them, and in such also allow him to haul ass more effectively.
As a recent arrival to the Academy, it was hard for Alex to remember that anyone he found here could equal or outmatch him in skill. Stealing things from those who hadn’t yet awakened was a piece of cake; Mages, on the other hand, were capable of holding their own.
Even as he faced the opposite direction, Alex was able to keep an eye on Marcus due to his omnivision. That particular rote had been honed over the course of several difficult years. Anymore Alex rarely attempted stunts without it. In this case it was proving invaluable as, while sprinting across the green, Alex could see Marcus cast a rote of his own. Of what nature, Alex hadn’t the slightest inkling. The important thing was that his pursuer was running far faster than he had anticipated and at his current pace would soon catch Alex. Running in a straight line across campus wasn’t going to work anymore. If he wanted to avoid being caught, he’d have to use some evasive maneuvers.
As he reached the opposite side of the green, Alex darted into an alley between two buildings. The brick walls on either side loomed overtop, catching the sounds of wet footsteps and reflecting them back. When he had raced to the end of the corridor, Alex was left with two choices: left or right. Each seemed equally likely to provide an escape route, but Alex didn’t have time to dwell on it.
He took the left path, sprinting off again and hoping that Marcus was the sort of person who was too thick to follow. Ahead the path wound around a series of bike racks. Rather than trying to run around them, Alex decided he would just go over them. Two came and went in quick succession as Alex planted his free hand on the top of the racks and hurdled over them. The third didn’t go quite so well.
One wrong step, one very slight miscalculation and the toe of Alex’s sneaker caught the top of the third bike rack mid-vault. He fell and hit the ground with a wet slap. The impact forced Marcus’s phone from his hand, skittering across the pavement.
They must have been making quite the scene. Two undergrads darting across the green with rotes active, the one behind cussing up a storm as he tailed the phone-burglar. However Mark couldn't help but wonder if it looked like a normal day on campus for some.
The chase lead them into a back ally on the other side of the greenway directly from the Library. It was damp, cramped, and ultimately unpleasant. Curses ran through the Life-Mage's skull as he paused momentarily at the crossing between two directions. His eyes darted impatiently to either side and he slammed a foot into the ground with huffing rage. "Trying to be tricky, huh? I can be tricky too!" His voice was a hiss of withheld violence. The male once more closed his eyes and focused the same rote he used earlier- this time his nose grew elongated and lupine in nature- "better to smell you with." As he lifted his head he and took a deep draught of air into his improved olfactory senses he plucked a myriad of scents from the fetid alleyway. Several seconds later- what felt like an eternity- he found the freshest scent which went left... Gotcha. He thought as he let the rote fade from use before sprinting down the left alleyway.
He'd arrive to the scene of toppled bikes and a downed man. A glint of metal revealing the location of stolen Sony Experia II. "I'm going to break you in two, man!" He shouted at the top of his lungs before lunging at the downed phone with all his might.
Fuck was the only word that came to mind as Alex lay on the wet pavement. A fresh pain seared his hands and his face where both had struck the concrete. The impact left his head swimming. He was overcome with a sense of apathy, laying there like a lump would take less effort than getting up and running again. A small voice in his mind insisted that he get up, and Alex was inclined to listen to it. With a grunt he shifted to his knees and then to his feet. Blood mingled with the water on the pavement. His hands had been scraped raw and his cheek gashed.
There was little time to recover. Because of the fall, Alex had lost concentration on his omnivision. Now he had to turn and look to see Marcus closing in on him and the precious cell phone. A wiser person would have cut their losses and left. Hell, they probably wouldn’t have stooped to stealing phones in the first place.
Alex was not wise. He was young and foolish and desperate. As Marcus lunged for the phone so did he. They both managed to grab it at the same time, but Alex couldn’t hope to out-grip Marcus with two injured hands. Alex slipped, allowing Marcus to reclaim his phone.
“Fuck.” His voice cracked, betraying his young age and his desperation.
There was only one path left for Alex to take, the path of the coward. Alex turned and ran. His fall had left him markedly slower and with a slight hitch in his step, but if he couldn’t escape with his prize at least he could still escape unnamed.