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 styrofoam egg carton opened with an irritating squeak. From it Alexander plucked a large brown egg. He’d held it for a moment, turning it over in his palm and examining it as if it were some alien object. Did the brown eggs taste different than white eggs? Were they really healthier? Most importantly, were any better for egging houses? He’d only bought these because they happened to be on sale. College students had to be thrifty, yo.
Most mischief seemed to happen after sundown, but Alex had an atypical approach to his troublemaking. Sure darkness was easier to hide in, but you didn’t have to worry about hiding if no one was around to see you in the first place. Mid-morning on a weekday most adults were at work and children were in school. Houses would sit vacant until evening, ripe for the picking. It was the perfect day for egging too, not a cloud in the sky. It’d really help to bake the egg white onto the paint, make it extra difficult to clean up.
Alexander casually lobbed his first egg at the house. It hit the siding with a satisfying crack and oozed down the side. His aim left something to be desired, but his target was favorably broad. Grabbing another egg from the carton, he wound back like some moronic, untrained pitcher and prepared to loose another egg. The sound of footsteps gave him pause. He wasn’t expecting interruptions. Fuck.
Quick thinking led him to abandon his carton of eggs on the lawn and dive into some adjacent shrubbery. It was one of the worse ideas he’d had. Said shrubbery was apparently of the thorned variety. With a yelp that caused his voice to crack, Alex flew back out of the shrubbery and fell prone on the lawn. The force of the impact jarred his hand open causing his egg to skitter across the lawn before rolling to a stop, miraculously intact, at the feet of the interloper.
Pumpkin smashin' pumpkin smashin' June stomped about having lost the majority of her posse somewhere between the 'Shack and her place...but that didn't necessarily give her any pause. She was having a good time...even if she was all on her lonesome. Though at some point she had acquired a Jack-o-Lantern on her head as she made a great and powerful night terror hoping from rooftop to rooftop through Columbiana's suburban sprawl.
She just needed to let lose and forget about things for awhile, get out of her head and get kinetic...as she was supposed to be, living and active...a force of unstoppable destruction. Which- she was that too, until she heard something that stopped her reign of terror for just a moment...it caught her attention however fleeting that was.
PWIP. PWiP. PWIP.
The unmistakable sound of eggs hitting vinyl siding was like a clarion call for June. Who slid down some asshole's drain spout to get back on terra firma to go check it out. Her feet hitting the grass and making enough noise that it had caused a chase.Or at least an escape and she followed pursuit, a cackle leaving her be-pumpkined head because someone hopped right into the thorn bushes and that was absolutely hilarious.
Alex scrambled to his feet as he heard a woman’s voice, a stray blade of grass dangled from the corner of his mouth. Instinct kicked in. Fight or flight? No. He froze like a goddamned, gormless deer. There was a jack-o-lantern where her head should have been. Anywhere else in the world and Alex would have jumped to the conclusion that it was a girl wearing a pumpkin helmet, but this was Columbiana. For all Alex knew she was some weird pumpkin chimera.
Squinting at her with suspicion, he gave her a once over before determining that she was just a girl playing dress up. She wasn’t with the police, obviously...probably. The other things he needed to rule out were the owner of the egged house or a nosy neighbor. She didn’t really look like either, but Alex wasn’t quite ready to drop his guard.
“What the fuck’re you doing here?” There it was again, suspicion, this time mixed with apprehension.
Tiny little scratches covered his exposed arms and face, a few had even started to welt up. His threadbare shirt was looking worse for the wear, pocked with little tears from his hasty retreat. He sidled along the shrubbery, giving the girl a wide berth as he headed for the carton of eggs he’d abandoned earlier.
Yeah that sounded fair and this guy didn't even know the half of it. June smirked so hard it had a noise...like a pleased little humm of sorts as she watched b'er rabbit pull himself out of the briar patch- looking a hot mess mixed with a pin cushion at that. A particularly paranoid one at that. "Oh settle your tits buddy...I won't fuck you up." She paused watching him crawl towards that carton of eggs which required a bit of an addendum.
"Unless you're thinking of nailing me with one o' those...then I will go raw."
She snapped her teeth under her pumpkin head. All too pleased with herself before turning that question back around. "So...what about you?". Her accusation was lazy...but she could make assumptions, and she was guessing...nay, hoping it was for the worst.
It was hard for Alex to believe that someone didn’t want to fuck him up. His entire life had been one long, cruel joke. It was like somewhere along the line Fate had pretended to give him a hug, but had really just slapped a “kick me” sign onto his metaphorical back. At least that was what it felt like.
“Kay.” He replied, still skeptical as he stalked towards the eggs. He was one hundred percent, totally, and undeniably trying to calculate how to break an egg inside of the girl’s jack o’ lantern helmet without getting his ass kicked when she warned him off it. “What does that even mean? Go raw…pffft, like you’re gonna slap me with an uncooked steak?” His ignorance blazed like a beacon. Not to mention, he was the sort of person who couldn’t pass up the chance to be an antagonistic little shit.
He finally reached the carton of eggs and picked it back up. A quick flip of the lid showed that they had all managed to survive their hasty descent to the ground. Satisfied, he turned back to the jackass with the pumpkin on her head. He seemed to think her question was a stupid one, it was obvious what he was doing, wasn’t it? He looked from his eggs, to the side of the house, to June, and back to his eggs again. “Oh, you know...just making omelettes.” He replied flippantly and then paused for a moment, considering.
“You wanna help?” He shrugged, pointing to the stray egg nestled in the lawn at her feet.
Why were boys like this so agreeable? June could never figure that out, you SAY you weren't going to do the thing, and then it was like...the alright. Only usually they didn't say that, they just sort of made a nose. She needed to say a bit more then all that to get things across, she liked to be clear. "Means I'll beat your ass into hamburger meat if you even try." See that? That was her not even missing a beat about how to deal with someone like that, SHE was someone like that, and there was just a way to go about it, like an episode of a Gordon Ramsey show...
Simple. Clean. Fresh.
Those parts together and seemed someone couldn't still go tit-for-tat about talk. He looked at her like she was the dumb one asking questions, well...listen buddy, she thought it was pretty dumb too. Him asking her...so you know, what goes around comes around or whatever the American idiom was that she didn't bother completely understanding because it was dumb. But she got the quip he was saying, met with her rolling her eyes behind her not quite smashed yet 'mask'. "Uh huh, well y'know...maybe you should be better at that...cause uh, it was pretty easy to catch you." She waved a hand dismissively, hand going up to play with the stem opening like she was tipping a hat at the would-be miscreant. "Shoulda wore a mask...this neighborhood if full of sneaks.
That wasn't untrue, nosy neighbors and pesky old mages made for just obnoxious obstacles for mischief. She managed just the same. "Yeah, sure. This for business or for pleasure? Because I ain't your personal army or whatever..." A shrug, and now she was half committed, if you could even call it that.
“Uh huh.” More skepticism, but this time colored with smug amusement. Telling him what a bad idea it was just intensified the desire to throw an egg at her. Beat his ass into hamburger meat, HAH. As if she could even catch him. There was one thing and one thing alone that Alex was good at in this God forsaken world, and that was running the fuck away. It didn’t matter how good she thought she was, he was invincible.
She had a point though, she’d managed to corner him in a bunch of thorn bushes. If she had been someone who mattered, he would have been toast. Not even toast, he would have been horrifically burnt, carbonized bread. It was sloppy work on his part, but hell was going to freeze over before he’d ever admit to it. “Yeah, I’ll get right on that.” What was he supposed to do, swing by Masks R’ Us on his way home from Spatula City? Spend all the money he didn’t have on a balaclavas? Wear a ten pound, periphery obstructing pumpkin on his head? Stupid, stupid, and more stupid.
“It’s for none of your goddamn business, you wanna throw eggs at that asswipe’s house or not?” He didn’t appreciate her prying. The truth of the matter was that it was something between business and pleasure. He liked egging houses, and he didn’t like the owner of this house in particular. It was a win-win.
He cast a subtle little rote, just something that would boost his field of vision in case she decided to pull anything, and then stepped around her. Plucking another egg from the carton he wound back and let it fly. It made sound distinctly different from the others that had struck the house earlier.
He’d hit a window.
“Whooooops.” It was the least sincere declaration of guilt uttered by anyone, ever.
Another shrug, this guy didn't seem impressed, and she wasn't the type to try, though there was an undue bit of confidence there she wanted to poke holes in, after all she had caught him...and she wasn't even really that focused on that sort of thing. Pursuit or whatever. "Well, that or git gud." That was the other option, she had picked the easier of the two first, but hey whatever this guy wanted to do first, no skin off her teeth.
Pffst, June pulled off her pumpkin and gave Snitty-McTryHard a look, "You aren't that hard, settle down." Who was he impressing? Not her, that was for same sure, if anything it made her want to laugh, but there was that whole thing about not wanting to encourage that behavior if that was what he was looking for. Instead she smirked, and grabbed a couple of eggs in her hand and let them fly, answering his question without making a big to do about it.
Because it was just chuckin' eggs.
Ain't nothin' hard about chuckin' eggs, or for that matter...breaking windows. "Hah!" It came like any outburst, loud and in June's case absolutely delighted. Because he probably didn't do THAT on purpose, that would have been too cool for this goober, but she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. "Not bad."
Telling him to settle down did nothing to help of course, in fact it had the opposite effect. “Pffft…” He scoffed. Ahhh, it was the sweet sound of his jimmies being rustled. His reply was mumbled, short and terse, “You settle down.” It was a comeback that would have elicited oohs and aahs from any kindergarten playground. He realized how stupid it sounded the instant the words left his mouth, but there was no taking it back now. That ship had sailed.
When it came down to choosing between party pooping and egging, she had decided to join in the merriment. He couldn’t abide someone cramping his style, so she earned herself some brownie points...not a ton, but a few. Maybe she wasn’t the worst person he’d ever met.
The broken window was completely unintentional, but the girl’s jubilant reaction had him pretending that it was premeditated. He was just that cool. “Damn straight.” He puffed up a little, terribly pleased with himself. “Watch, I’ll do it again.” Like any teenage boy, Alex couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off, especially for a chick. He made a big production of grabbing another egg, adjusting his stance, and aiming at the now broken window.
He couldn’t have been further off his mark. The egg cracked against the side of the house, nowhere near the window he’d been aiming for. Goddammit.
This was where he should have said something witty, something clever to salvage his wounded pride. Unfortunately his mind was as blank as a fresh sheet of paper.
His saving grace came in the form of a loud, shrill siren originating from the house. The homeowner had apparently installed glassbreak sensors, and of course this was the house Alex had picked. He looked to June and gave her a dumb look as he closed the lid to the egg carton, now half empty. “Uhhhhh…”
June blinked, what the hell was that? So she got it in her head that replying with just as much sense wasbin order. "Naw.". See? What was better then simplicity to battle stupidity? Nothing. That's what. Though it wasn't fool proof. Since someone had a big head... An idiom she took a while to understand when she had been learning English but now it made too much sense when dealing with this sort.
And there were always an abundance of this sort. The sort that wanted to impress and fell short then got pissy. It was goddammit hilarious. So as the other miscreant youth tried his trick again and failed... June began to cackle worse then she had been moments ago. "Shit son... Well you did something." so there was that.
This all could have been a fight, and maybe it would be and later but the sound of Columbianas less then finest on the move got her to move even faster. "The cops! We gotta go." there was urgency in her words but no fear- this wasn't her first run in... Nor her Last, hell this wasn't even her whole day. She grabbed the boys hand and gave it a tug.
"Follow me. "
Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't. But with that she was off like a shot, jumping the first privacy fence she found into and over a garden wall where the foliage was thick and the lawn gnomes were plenty. Terrifying... She had a thing about gnomes.
Embarrassment was an understatement. What Alex felt as she laughed at him was nothing short of complete humiliation. He had never been good at accepting defeat with grace and this was certainly no exception. It was probably for the best that the siren had started up; He could just pretend like none of it had ever happened. In the back of his mind Alex knew they needed to bounce, but he was momentarily frozen by his own disgrace.
It was the jarring motion of her tug that snapped him out of his stupor. Gripping the carton in one hand, he stumbled forward after his partner in crime. It took a step or two before he’d reached his stride, but once there he was able to keep up well enough.
As he reached the privacy fence he finally abandoned the rest of the eggs. At best they’d just get in the way of him scaling the obstacle, at worst they’d both get in the way and break all over his already threadbare clothes. The carton dropped to the ground with a soft thud and Alex hit the fence at a run.
Like a pair of well greased squirrels they scaled the fence one by one and slipped into the next yard. Alex landed on his feet and, maintaining some of his forward momentum, flew past the waiting girl. The garden they landed in might have been nice if it hadn’t been for all the garden gnomes. Suddenly invigorated and feeling charitable, Alex decided to help the homeowner with the infestation as he ran by.
“Keep up Jackass, WOOOOOOOOO!” Kick. Stomp. Kick.
The gnomes ate dirt, one by one. Alex continued to run, vaulting over shrubs and ducking under arbors, winding his way through the yard. Somewhere along the way he snagged a lawn flamingo and began wielding it like a club. In his wake was a trail of displaced and destroyed garden decor.
Leaping over a particularly tall bench, he caught sight of a pool in the neighbor’s yard ahead. It was closed for the season, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a way to fuck it up.
“HEY HEY, neighbor’s got a pool! Grab a gnome!” He called over to to the girl as he stooped to grab a stupid looking gnome for himself.
June wouldn't call herself a cautious gal, but in this garden, she was guardin'...so to speak, mostly because of the lawn art irregulars that called this place its home and it seemed that this kid didn't share her experience with gnomes...and who could blame him? Normal people didn't have to deal with gnomes, plaster or otherwise. She made an uncertain sound just the same, biting her lower lip as Alex found himself on some turnt smashing spree.
She held up a finger as to interject, there was no goddamn way she was going to grab one of those things, and soon there was a good explanation why. Most of the gnomes shattered against that ugly pink flamingo, but one..one was punted a few feet with a yelp, and June jumped back. "Shit!" That was bad, like...hitting chickens in a Zelda game bad, and it started to cry some sort of alarm that stirred a few others from their hiding spots in plain sight, and caused some scratching noises from the other side of the fence...there were a lot of them, and christ fuck they were pissed.
Sweating bullets was where June was physically, but she grabbed a pole and bird feeder combo and started swinging towards idiot boy and the teaming hoard. "We gotta find some high ground!" Or...that pool, yeah that pool, fuck yeah,"Wait...to the pool!" They couldn't swim could they? She doubted with those stubby little legs and June hopped in, make shift weapon in hand and clothes on as she went straight for the deep end.
As far as Alex was concerned gnomes were just ceramic or plaster or some other sort of manufactured, brittle shit that was ripe for smashing. Weird things were known to happen in Columbiana so it really shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise when one of the gnomes let out a disturbed grunt rather than a thud, but Alex was little more than a fledgling and still had many a lesson to learn. He continued with reckless abandon, punting and putting gnomes both living and statuesque until he realized his cohort wasn’t joining in. He put his extermination on hold, turning to see why she had decided to be a stick in the mud.
There was a look of dawning horror on Alex’s face as he glanced back and saw some of the garden gnomes picking themselves up. Evoking memories of an episode of Recess, they advanced on him like a horde of feral kindergarteners.
“What the fuck?!?” Shock and disbelief, followed by slight panic. At some point the gnomes had called to one another, rallying in numbers far greater than Alex would have expected. They approached him from all sides, and quickly began to cut off his means of escape. An instant later the girl was there, swinging a pole and shouting something about the pool. Alex watched as she ran and leapt into the deep end to avoid the little monsters.
He hesitated, just long enough for the closest gnome to charge forward and latch onto his pant leg. With a shriek he beat it with the lawn flamingo and tried to shake it off, but it held fast. Another latched on to the same pant leg and together began to pull down Alex’s already sagging jeans. There was only one way out of this shitshow now. In one swift motion Alex kicked off his sneakers and shimmied out of his jeans. Clad in only his boxers and t-shirt, Alex was momentarily free of the gnomes. He leapt forward, over the advancing horde, and towards the pool.
As he reached the edge of the pool he hesitated once more. Escaping the gnomes was, of course, a priority. However, there was the small problem of his swimming ability. He hadn’t had the privilege of growing up with swimming lessons or access to a pool, but here he had a choice between possible drowning and definite mauling-by-gnome. So of course, he leapt into the pool with June.
His momentum allowed him to kick off of the bottom of the deep end and rise back to the surface. Once there he sputtered, flailing as he tried to keep himself from sinking back under. It wasn't looking good, but Fate wasn't quite ready to do him in. His lawn flamingo floated by and he grabbed it. It was an adequate flotation device, for now.
"They're real?!? H....how the fuck can they be real?!?" He stammered, spraying water everywhere. "Fuck, we gotta get out of here." As he mumbled the mob of angry gnomes reached the edge of the pool.
There was a tired way she said it, like this was not even remotely June's first run in with the little shitlords, because it wasn't...these things had been the bane of her existence since somewhere she didn't know when, but young, real young. Her problem was now this guy's problem but in her defense, it wasn't exactly her fault he had decided to go all deth metal on the little buggers. But she wasn't in the market to chastise about it...though there was a lesson here somewhere hopefully the kid would take to heart. Or something. Maybe not. But there were at least some hard knocks which may or may not stick.
So long as he didn't die in the process, guy sunk down to the bottom of the pool with all the style and function of a Baby Ruth bar faking a turd, and like a fake turd...it was ruining whatever fun could be had in this bad situation. Pool's closed, due to loser. "Oh my fuckin' god." She was half ready to fish him up by the collar of his raggedy shirt before he bobbed back up and scrabbled onto a pink monstrosity...all the while screaming.
The screaming might have made sense, but June wasn't exactly impressed given the circumstances or the fact that this was a matter where cooler heads would prevail. "Yes, gnomes are real. Just like magic is real, and this place is like...queerer then a two dollar bill." Her voice was dull as she cast a weary eye to the screeching tiny humanoids looking every bit ready to go to war with them as they did before.
"And yeah...we probably should."
How they'd exactly do that? Well, hell if she knew- this would take some thinking, and she sighed, tip toeing the bottom of the pool to pace out and idea...her height keeping her above the water unlike her half drowned companion, "Wonder if..." she snapped her fingers and pointed at one of the hoard. "Where's your boss?" The thing screeched and then looked around as though trying to gauge the reaction of it's fellows...which did the same, all of them were confused, to be called out and they began to mutter among themselves.
In retrospect it seemed obvious that gnomes would be real in a place like Columbiana, but foresight was not Alex’s strong suit. Like a drowned rat, he clung to the flamingo-turned-liferaft even as it’s hollow body slowly began to fill with water. He envied the girl’s height and her ability to keep her face above water without even trying. At the very least he wasn’t actively drowning anymore, but if the air bubbling up from a crack in the flamingo’s hull was any indication, he would soon run out of luck. They had to get out, and quickly.
He watched, confused, as June demanded to see their supervisor. “They don’t look like they wabbbbbnna talk.” He hissed, mouth dipping below the water as he spoke. It was then that an idea struck him. Whether or not it had been June’s intention to confuse them, Alex didn’t know. All that really mattered was that the gnomes were now collectively confused. This was a good thing.
“I gotta go get my pbbbbnnants.” He coughed and sunk a little lower in the water, but kicked his feet to make up for it. Though he was loath to admit it, he really needed those pants. It was either get them back or go steal a new pair, ‘cause he certainly couldn’t afford to buy any. “Meet you, uh…” His eyes darted around, looking for somewhere far away from the gnomes, preferably somewhere dry. There. “Roof of that blue houbbbse, two doors down.”
There was only one way Alex could get himself out of his mess, and that was with the use of magic. With most of the gnomes hovering alongside the pool, there was ample open space behind them. Fixating on a point in the grass behind the hoard, near his discarded jeans, Alex cast his spell.
Fhwump. It was the sound of a young man, a lawn flamingo, and a substantial amount of adjacent water suddenly ceasing to exist. Across the yard, almost simultaneously, was a pop and a splash as the aforementioned items suddenly appeared again. Alex chucked the flamingo at the throng of confused gnomes and stooped to pick up his pants.
“Heeey hey lil’ fuckers.” In what was probably the singularly most altruistic act of his life, Alex taunted the little asswipes, hoping that in doing so they’d give the girl in the pool a chance to escape. The hoard turned, screeching and confused. For the most part it seemed like Alex’s plan was working, though he couldn’t tell if there were any stragglers that had chosen to hang back. He was busy leading a chase through the garden, away from the pool.