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.
Stealing from the dorms was a piece of cake. Between the general pandemonium of college dorms and the idiots who forgot to lock their doors, there was plenty of sweet sweet loot to be had. Alex didn’t even rouse suspicion as he walked in and plunked himself down in common room. Feeling efficient, he pulled out his math homework and began scribbling down answers. Between problems he eyed the hallway, biding his time until his targets left for...well, wherever the fuck they were going, it wasn’t like he cared. As long as they stayed out long enough for him to ransack their room, he’d be happy.
Sure enough, a couple of saps walked out of a room and didn’t bother locking the door behind them. As soon as they were in the stairwell Alex packed up his homework and set to work. No one questioned his presence as he casually strolled down the hall and walked into the empty room like he owned it. It was a goddamn jackpot. A PS4 and games, two laptops, cash, and expensive textbooks all left unattended. Alex crammed as much as he could into his backpack to the point where it almost didn’t zip shut. He tucked the remaining textbooks under his arm and then made like a tree.
Robbery was the easy part, or at least it was easiest for Alex. The real challenge was moving said stolen property. He’d tried his luck on craigslist before, but after a few close calls he decided to let someone else take the risk. All he had to do was find a fence.
After a few days of asking around, Alex found himself hunting down some kid named Andrei. His hunt brought him and his brimming backpack to the infamous Morning Wood Manor. He knocked on several different doors before he was directed to what was supposedly the place to find the guy. Alex gave the door a good ol’ shave and a haircut knock, and then pressed his eye up against the peep hole.
“Uh, I’m lookin for Andrei?” He sounded unsure as he spoke to the door that hadn’t even opened yet.
Andrei was collapsed on the couch when he heard the knock. Looking up and squinting against the bright light pouring in through the closed and shuttered window. It might be dark by most people's standards, but to someone in Andrei's state it might as well have been a spotlight pointed directly at his eyes. "Uuuuugggghhhh..." He groaned to himself as he rolled over, silently cursing his clever cocktail of drugs and liquor that had led to an amazing night but a terrible morning. "Wuh...?" He kept right on rolling and fell off the rather shabby couch onto the dirty carpet that may have once been white but was now a dingy grey. "Ooof!" He pushed himself up into a half sitting position and grumbled aloud, "Goddamn floor being too goddamned far away goddammit." He grumbled as he staggered to his feet. Now what was he doing? Why was he bothering to get up?
Then he heard someone talking through the door. "Ah, right..." He stumbled towards the door, managing to trip over a chair and sending it clattering the the floor. "Fuu..!" With him hitting the floor himself a moment later with a loud thud. "Dammit..." He struggled back to his feet and practically fell forward to hit the door with a bang. Fumbling with unresponsive fingers, Andrei pushed the small flap he had stapled over the eyehole aside and peered through it. The person on the other side wasn't someone he recognized, but the furtive glances around and the sort of person Andrei normally associated with said everything he needed to know. With a groan he pulled the chain aside, loosened the deadbolt, and unlocked the knob finally pulling the door open enough to admit his 'guest' and a whole lot of bright light. "Ugh... Goddammit... Git in here ya idjut, and don' let tha light in with ya!" Staggering towards the kitchen, he called behind him one last command. "An' at least tirn tha dedbolt."
Grumbling as he stumbled towards the kitchen, Andrei dug around for a moment and returned to his living room with a positively enormous bottle of Gatorade. Flopping down on the couch, he pointed first at his 'guest' and then at a lumpy looking recliner that looked like it might have been (and had been) dragged out of the dorm dumpsters after move-out weekend. "Sit." Then he dug around in the couch and pulled out an unlabeled presription bottle, popped it open, dropped a handful of the pills within into his hand, and choked them down alongside a third of the Gatorade. He sighed and collapsed backward on the couch to stare at the ceiling. "Fuck ma fuckin' 'ead..." He rubbed his face and leaned back forward to look at his 'guest' for a long moment. "Naow... Who th' hell're you? And whut'dya want?"
Alex stood at the door, shifting from foot to foot as he waited. For a long moment there was silence. Doubt edged into his mind. Maybe this wasn’t the right place after all. It wouldn’t have been the first time he’d interpreted directions incorrectly. His doubts began to dissolve when he heard what sounded like someone juggling furniture behind the door. A moment later there was a rattling of a chain lock and then the door opened to reveal a haggard looking guy.
Since he didn’t know the guy very well, and since he needed the help, Alex decided against snarking back. Instead he sidled into the apartment and obediently twisted the deadbolt behind him. The apartment was...well it was disgusting, even for college student standards, but it might as well have been a mansion for all Alex knew or cared. With a shrug of his arms he dropped his backpack into his hands and made for the gnarly looking recliner.
Out of the corner of his eye Alex watched as Andrei grabbed the largest bottle of Gatorade he’d ever seen. “Fuckin’ hangovers man.” God, what he wouldn’t have given for the means to get hammered whenever he felt like it. Poverty was rough on the social life, but hey at least his liver was healthy.
“I’m uh...Alex, I know June.” Friend was too strong a word for his relationship with june. Acquaintance would have been better choice, but the word didn’t easily come to mind. “I uh,, couple of people told me you’re fence. I have some shit I need to get rid of.” He pulled his overstuffed backpack into his lap and unzipped it slightly. “Got a PS4, GTA 5, Fallout 4, some...other shit, couple’a laptops….”
If Andrei cared about Alex's unspoken criticisms of the apartment, he didn't say anything about it. He didn't, by the way. Care that is, but he didn't even really notice it in the first place. Even if he had, caring about this place was so low on his list of priorities that Andrei didn't even bother to rank it. It was a crash pad and it looked like it. Andrei did care deeply about two things though. One was in his hand and was disappearing down his gullet at an alarming rate as he desperately tried to chase away the brutal headache that seemed like to split his skull. The other was the reason why he was conscious in the first place. "Huh? Oh, yea yea... Hangovers fukin' suck..." His pained slurring was slowly turning back to its normal southern drawl. Whether this was an improvement depended on who you asked...
"June? Heh... An' ya say she sent ya ta me?" He chuckled lightly at the thought. "I dunno if'n I believe ya. She an' I don' always git along, ya see..." He shrugged as he took a deep gulp of his gatorade. Then he leaned forward and gestured for Alex to hand over the bag for him to browse. "Ya don' say. That'd be some xpensiv swag if'n yer serious." He paused in his consideration of the 'goods' to look up at Alex with a curious look. "Ya lookin ta sell'r trade?" He poked a finger towards the bathroom. "I got some sweet shit squirr'ld away around here if'n ya want trade, c'n prob'ly get ya more bang f'r y'r buck tha'way. I got cash too, 'course... But, trade'll get ya a better deal..." He winked and grinned, which quickly turned into a wince as the headache gave a parting shot before the pills took effect.
Then he leaned forward and looked Alex dead in the eye, a completely serious (if pained) expression on his face. "It don' matter I s'pose. What matters is tha ya look me dead in th'ye here an' tell me tha truth." He stared for a moment and bluntly asked. "You a cop?" He didn't say it, but he charged the question with a hint of Prime. One of the relatively few magic tricks he'd picked up in his time at the Academy, but damned if wasn't handy to sense a liar in his profession. He knew that undercover cops were supposed to never lie if they were directly asked, but with a hint of magic, Andrei could be sure...
“Naw, June didn’t send me. I just know her. I met a couple guys that recommended you, never caught their names though.” Mostly because he didn’t fucking care about who they were. Hell, the only reason he remembered Andrei’s name was that asking for ‘that one guy who’s good at moving shit’ wasn’t specific enough to get him directions.
“Well, uh...I was gonna sell…” The gears started turning as Alex weighed whether or not it was wise to trade for something that couldn’t be put towards paying tuition, room, and board. “Might be up for a trade, depends on what you got.” His gaze followed Andrei’s finger, towards the bathroom, but it wasn’t like he could see anything. “You up for both? I mean, trade some and sell the rest?”
Alex turned his attention back to the guy and sat back uncomfortably as Andrei looked him in the eye. Alex quickly looked away to the floor and fiddled with the straps on his backpack until ordered to look Andrei in the eye. He did so with great discomfort and fought the urge to look away, fidgeting in his chair. “Do I look like a fucking cop to you?” His voice cracked as it raised in pitch slightly. He wasn’t angry or offended, just slightly bewildered. For a beat he was quiet, and then he seemed to remember that he hadn’t actually answered the question.
“Of course I’m not a cop.” And it was the truth too. Alex didn’t bother asking if Andrei was a cop because, well frankly it hadn’t occurred to him to ask. Besides, he’d been recommended by a couple random kids and that was a gold seal of approval in Alex’s book.
"Ahh, gotcha. Now tha' makes more sense..." Andrei grinned. He liked the June girl well enough, and he knew she tolerated his presence, but a name drop leading to more looking made much more sense. He nodded and shrugged. There were probably a dozen people who knew his 'chosen profession' in the Valley who might've lead the guy to Andrei's doorstep. Well, that wasn't entirely true, since this was his ex-girlfriend's apartment technically and he was just squatting. Not like she needed it anymore...
Andrei stared at Alex for a moment longer after hearing the guy's admission he wasn't a cop. He slowly nodded and held up a finger to point at Alex's face with a grin. "So long as you ain't playin' me boy." He laughed, damned near a giggle, and slapped a hand on his knee. "Ahhh... Ah'm just playin' man... Chill... Chill..." He chuckled for a moment longer, letting it trail off with a faint whine like a firecracker. Then, like a shot, he was suddenly tense and looked positively furious. "But if you're playin' me you'll rigret it, ya got me?!?" Then he was suddenly all smiles again and shrugged himself into a standing position to place a hand on Alex's shoulder. "But Ah know you won't be doin that, raight?" He winked and gave Alex a thumbs-up.
"Now as to the deal... Sell. Trade. Both. Ah don' care, my man." He chuckled. "The customer is always right, yaknow?" He chugged the last of his drink, tossed the bottle in the general direction of the kitchen, and shuffled into the bathroom as he waved for Alex to stay sitting. A moment later, after the sound of grinding porcelain, Andrei walked back into the room with what looked like a small tackle box. Setting it on the coffee table, he flipped it open and multiple racks unfolded to reveal roughly 3 dozen compartments and each filled with a single plastic bag wrapped tightly into itself. Due to the thickness and opacity of the plastic, it was hard to see what was in each but a dark form within each showed that not one was empty. "I got a bit of everythin'. Weed, Shrooms, Keta, Adderall, Ecstasy, LSD... You know... The classics. Coke and the other high end shit, I can probably get ya, but migh' take a bit. Not much call for it in the local market, ya dig?" His grin faded a bit when he added. "Heroine and Meth though... I could hook ya up, but Ah won't. Ah don' mess wit dat stuff an neither should you..."
Then he was all smiles again. "Tell me whatcha got and Ahm sure we can reach some kinda agreement..." He grinned with a wink and snatched the backpack from where it had been set. He started laying it all out on the couch so he could see what was all there, for 'business' purposes of course.
Alex shook his head almost imperceptibly at first, and the more vigorously. “N...naw, I’m not playin you man.” He almost, almost started to relax, but then the guy came back with some nebulous threat that Alex couldn’t help but take seriously. “I got it, I got it. I’m not gonna narc.” Reflexively he flinched away from the hand on his shoulder. With Andrei switching back and forth between nonchalance and intimidation with such ease, Alex didn’t quite know what to think.
The rate at which the guy had downed his bottle of Gatorade was truly impressive and Alex watched him finish it off with some small measure of awe. He waited in the grungy old recliner as Andrei disappeared and returned with a box of many compartments. Alex was quite obviously astounded at the selection that had been presented to him. As the saying went, beggars couldn’t be choosers, and Alex had been as good as a beggar all his life. This was the first time he had the means to pick his poison. “Naw, not interested in the harder stuff. I know I’m not the smartest, but I don’t have a death wish either.”
Alex mulled over his choices as Andrei began to lay out the ill gotten gains. After a real bad experience with shrooms, they were right out of contention. Adderall was the utilitarian choice, but wasn’t exactly fun. “Prolly just weed for now, I think.” Always a safe, fun bet though he was going to need to swipe some Funyuns from the convenience store because he was bound to get the hungry afterwards.
“Well I got the stuff I already told you about, then there’s uh…” Alex squinted as he tried to remember what all he’d jacked from that dorm room. “A nice set of headphones.” At least they’d looked nice, they were made by some German company that started with an S. “Is there uh, anything in particular you’re looking to buy? Not right now I mean, but yanno...in the future.” Just in case this went well and they decided to do business again, Alex figured it might be worth asking what sort of things to keep an eye out for.
Andrei merely nodded at Alex's response to the thinly veiled threat. The other guy wasn't an idiot and clearly had at least some experience dealing with shady guys like Andrei. Andrei was a good guy, and he didn't like having to be a thug, but he'd cut a guy if it turned out he was being played. Laws of the jungle or some such...
After that though, Andrei was back to being all smiles and good (if a bit 'off') natured. "Gud ta hear, my man. Gud ta hear. Ah don' like messin' with tha hard stuff or tha kinda people who do..." He grinned and flashed a thumbs-up before waving a hand over his stash. "Anythin' here ya like, jus say tha word."
While Alex thought it over, Andrei considered the haul. He nodded to himself a few times and counted up (only using his fingers a little bit) the value of everying Alex had brought over. "Cool, man, cool." He pulled up said headphones and looked them over before nodding again. "Got sum gud stuff here. 'Course I won't be givin ya street value here. Gotta git my cut, findin' buyer an such...."
"As fir shit ah'd buy?" He scratched his head a few times before shrugging. "Shit, I dunno. This here electronic shit's always good. People love that crap these days. Phones can be tricky to unload though. I know a guy who knows a guy who can wipe and move 'em, but kinda a headache fir me without much payoff, seein as how they dee-pree-see-ate so quick when new shit hits. Music and game shit always moves though, and quick like. Doc scrip books are like gold these days, so long as theyer fresh an usable. Beyond that... I dunno man. Demand changes by tha day. Jus bring me what ya got and ah'll know ya what its worth..."
"But how'sbout this?" Andrei set the items aside and sat down across the coffee table from Alex. "You want grass?" He picked a pair of decent sized bags from the box and put them down on the table. "This is some solid shit. Ah'll be honest. Not mah best shit, but not mah worst... An even mah worst'll knock most city-boys on their ass tha firs time."
He then reached into his back pocket and pulled out a handful of crumpled bills out. Fingering through it with his other hand, Andrei plucked a smaller handful of 20s and 50s and dropped it on the table next to the weed. "An tha rest in cash." He grinned. "Fair's fair." He tapped a finger to his chin a few times before shrugging and pulling out a small bag of mushrooms from the box and closing the lid. "The shrooms ah'll throw in for free this time... Call it a firs' time buyer's discoun, ya dig?" He winked and held a hand out for Alex to shake. "Deal?"
Alex nodded as Andrei explained that he wouldn’t be getting street value for the merchandise he’d lifted. “Naw, I gotcha man. Isn’t my first rodeo.” He wasn’t the only one who needed to make a living and he certainly didn’t expect Andrei to be the sort to do charity work. “Good to know, good to know.” Unfortunately phones were just about the easiest things to take. Small, kept in an easily accessible pocket, and rarely kept behind locked doors. Other things, more valuable things, required actual breaking and entering. Higher risk, higher reward.
“I mean, I don’t really have a...what’s it called uh, a discerning palace....” Swing and a miss. So much for that whole education thing. “So...yanno, I’ll take whatever you got.” Alex waited until Andrei had put the weed and the crumpled bills onto the table. Alex reached out, using his index finger to push around the bills and figure out how much exactly Andrei had given him. He would have been happier with more, of course, but all things considered it was a fair trade.
“Oh uh...me and shrooms man, we uh...we don’t get along. I tried them once and was like, chased down the street by a homicidal couch?...and I’m pretty sure that didn’t actually happen, but that shit was legit terrifying.” Tripping alone hadn’t helped either, but it wasn’t like Alex had had any trusted friends to help him out. “But yeah, you got a deal.” Alex reached out to shake Andrei’s hand and then began grabbed the cash and shoved it into his pocket.