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.
Faun had been hanging around the theater more often nowadays, finding herself drawn to the same places others of her kind frequented. While she had initially been shocked to find that the local freehold's gathering-place was also home to a handful of hobgoblins, the passage of time and exposure to the creatures gradually lessened her fears.They were of the more benign breeds--smaller, less malicious, more akin to cats in terms of temperament, albeit cats with a near-human level of intelligence. She had made the acquaintance of a few of them, though that didn't necessarily make them close friends. They were mischievous, otherworldly creatures, Faun doubted she would ever be totally at ease around them.
As she busied herself with tidying up a bit of clutter backstage, more out of boredom than anything else, she felt a tug at her pants leg. Faun looked down to see one of the resident creatures, a mammal of some sort with a round catlike face and large ears atop a gibbon-esque body, covered in dappled fur. It's long tail flicked back and forth as it looked at her expectantly. "No, I don't have any candy for you today," she said in reply to its silent demand. In an effort to make friends, she had offered this particular creature a piece of hard candy once, and now it seemed to expect some every time she walked in the door. Sometimes she had treats, sometimes--like now--she didn't.
The creature pouted, sticking its lip out and looking at her with big baleful eyes in such a way that Faun couldn't help but laugh at it. "Don't be so greedy," she chided, ruffling its head fur and shooing it away.
She returned to her organizing as the creature loped off, still sulking. It was bored, and bored hobgoblins were trouble-making hobgoblins. Its mismatched blue-and-green eyes flicked upwards to a high window, left slightly ajar to infuse some autumn air into the musty building. With a grin, it began to scale the wall.
Faun glanced around at the sound of creaking hinges, just in time to see the hobgoblin shoulder the window open further. The smile its antics had left was wiped from her face in an instant. "What are you doing?" she squawked. "It's broad daylight! Someone's gonna see you!"
The hobgoblin looked down at her, blinked once, then stuck out it's tongue and blew a very loud raspberry before jumping out the window.
Faun cursed, scrambling towards the back exit she had come in through. She burst out just in time to see the furry creature take off down the street, and gave chase as best she could, forcing her bad leg to move fast enough to let her keep up. She followed it down the sidewalk, ducking and dodging between startled pedestrians. To her knowledge (though she still knew very little) the hobgoblins rarely left the theater, let alone in the daytime, where anyone could see them. Could hobs Mask? She had no idea, but she might have been about to find out.
Alex had been spending the afternoon as any respectable teenager would, hanging out around downtown Columbiana with a couple cans of spray paint. Brick walls and dumpsters alike couldn’t escape his artistry. Tsssssst, tssssst, tsssssssst. The can hissed as put the finishing touches on his fifth masterpiece of the day: a giant dick on an alley wall. Another series of quick hisses followed as he signed his work. Done. Stepping back to admire his handiwork, Alex frowned. It needed a little more pizzazz. He tucked on can of paint into the pocket of his hoodie, pulled out another in a contrasting color, and added a few more details. Perfect.
It was time to seek out another blank canvas. To avoid suspicion, though it was a poor attempt, Alex stuffed the second can (along with his hand) into his hoodie pocket. He trudged down the alley, pausing only to kick a crumpled soda can at a soggy cardboard box. There was a rattle as the can skittered across the paved ground and into the box. Awwwww yis, world’s next soccer superstar right here.
He would have been content to loiter like the hooligan but his attention was diverted by the sudden appearance of a little furry creature at the end of the alley. Alex froze. He didn’t know what it was, but he’d seen enough weird things in Columbiana that he wasn’t gonna touch it. The creature ran at him with surprising speed. For a moment Alex worried that it was coming for him, but it seemed content to gleefully pass him by and blew a raspberry as it continued on its way.
Dismissing it as another harmless oddity, Alex walked to the end of the alley and prepared to step around the corner when he collided with someone. The impact knocked him on his ass and sent a can of spray paint clattering to the ground. Rekt. “Ooof.” He exclaimed, and looked up to see who or what he’d run into. It appeared to be a perfectly normal girl, and she seemed to be about his age. He didn’t question her reason for running down the sidewalk because, well he ran down the sidewalk on the regular. “If you’re looking for a little furry thing, it went that a way.” He jerked his head back in the general direction he had last seen the hobgoblin.
She spied the hobgoblin as it ducked into an alleyway and turned sharply to follow after it. All of a sudden, someone stepped out in front of her, coming out of the alley she was dashing into. There was no time to dodge or backpedal--they crashed right into eachother and toppled, with Faun narrowly avoiding landing on top of him. The hobgoblin poked it's head back into the alley upon hearing the kerfuffle, and she could hear it's high-pitched laughter at the other end of the alleyway. Muttering something nasty under her breath, she tried to get back to her feet before it ran off again.
The boy she had run into spoke, indicating the direction the damnable creature had gone. "Thanks. Did you, ah, happen to get a good look at it?" This particular hob looked plausibly similar to a mundane creature, making it less likely for people to run away screaming if they saw it. However, anyone who got a good look at it would likely have some questions. Her few weeks of experience within the town had taught her that there were weirder things about than changelings, but there was still no telling who was also aware of it, and who was blissfully ignorant. She was about to dash off again when an idea struck her. "Also: I don't suppose you have any sweets on you, do you?" Maybe she could lure the little bugger into grabbing range.
Alex slowly climbed to his feet, brushing grit and grime off of his clothes where they had contacted the ground. If he had been raised with good manners, we would have offered a hand to help the girl up. As it was, his manners were so deficient as to be nonexistent. He stood there dumbly “Uh I dunno. It looked kinda like a cat, but you know...not.” While he did sound slightly puzzled, he didn’t appear to be shocked by the creature’s appearance. “I mean, it went plbbbbbbbbbbtttttt…” Alex reenacted the raspberry the thing had blown during its sprint. “But nothing in this town is normal sooooo…”
His voice trailed off and he shrugged. He still hadn’t quite gotten over learning that jackalopes were actually a thing, and after learning that garden gnomes were real and vicious a harmless little creature running down an alley didn’t seem like such a shock. “Naw, no candy.” He said, stooping down to pick up the can that had fallen out of his pocket. He had to hope that if she saw the graffiti, she wouldn’t choose to go snitch on him. It seemed like she was otherwise occupied, so Alex didn’t worry about it so much. “But uh, if you dig through the dumpster behind The Hag you might find some old muffins or something.” He said, pointing to one of the dumpsters further down the alley.
Faun cringed inwardly. So he had seen the thing's true form. Of course, she had no idea whether or not the creatures frequently showed themselves, or if this particular one had just decided to make her life harder than it already was today. It was slightly reassuring that he was already well-versed in the town's various enigmas, and she gave a brief, humorless laugh at his words. "Don't I know it..."
That still left the problem of how to get this particular enigma back to the Theater so she could wring its enigmatic little neck. Faun glanced over at the dumpster the boy suggested picking through, and pulled a face. "I'd rather not." She looked back at her quarry, noticing that the hobgob now seemed more interested in the impromptu "game" they were playing then actually getting out and about, and was still crouched at the end of the alleyway, eyes gleaming like green flames as it waited to see what they were going to do next.The faintest ghost of a grin flicked across her features as an idea came to her. "All right, hairball," she called to the creature, dusting herself off. "You win. I'm heading back to the theater, you just come home whenever you feel like it." She stuck her hands in her pockets and turned to amble the other way, trying very hard not to let her grin grow noticeable at the sudden, indignant noise of protest at the other end of the alley. Momentarily forgetting that "keep-away" was the object of the game, the hobgoblin scampered up to her and gave her jacket an insistent tug, followed by a loud yowl. Faun pretended to ignore it, sticking her nose in the air and looking away.
She continued to walk, paying no mind to the creature jumping about her feet, until she finally noticed the...art on one of the alley's walls, which caused her to stop. Graffiti had existed in her time, though usually it had been a bit more tasteful. "Does the, uh, owner of this building know this is here?" she asked the boy, only then noticing that the can of spray paint in his hand was the same color as the wall-dick. She looked back at the drawing, noticing a tiny name scrawled at the bottom. "And who's Alex?"
“Suit yourself.” Alex shrugged. Hey, if she wasn’t going to go dumpster diving then all the more for him. In his experience people threw away all sorts of perfectly good food just because it was getting close to its expiration date. Granted, he preferred hot meals, but he hadn’t often been in a position where he could be choosy. Alex turned to look where Faun was looking and noticed the little green eyes staring back at them.
Faun’s plan seemed to be working though, as she loudly announced that she was leaving the little critter bolted back to her side. It was acting just like an ornery little kid. So that was that then. Alex began to check his pockets to make sure he hadn’t lost anything important in his tumble. Phone, check. Wallet, check. Paint, check. “Huh?” He put his assessment on pause when he heard Faun’s question. “Oh uh, they probably don’t know yet.” He had, after all, only just completed his masterpiece a few minutes earlier.
“Alex is me. I’m Alex.” He said with a dumb shrug. “You’re not gonna uh...you’re not gonna go turn me in or anything, are you?” Not that there was much he could have done about it if she was. Mischievous as he may have been, he wasn’t the sort to threaten girls and he didn’t have the means to do any memory wiping or mind manipulation. Alex decided it would be in his best interest to steer the conversation somewhere else, somewhere other than himself. “You work at the theatre then? Is it really haunted like they say?” If so, Alex wanted to add it to his list of places not to visit. Columbiana was already weird enough, he didn’t need to add ‘seeing theatrical ghosts’ to his bucket list.
The boy seemed to have no problem owning up to his graffiti, confirming his name as well. "Oh. I'm uh--Mary." It was an incredibly common name in her time, and the first thing she had thought of when she realized she needed an alias that would sound more normal that 'Faun'. She was honestly surprised at how quickly he fessed up to defacing the side of the building. Faun doubted it was an indicator of any sort of good character, however--if that was the case, he probably wouldn't be drawing dicks in the first place. She mimicked his shrug as he asked if she was going to rat him out. "I...guess not? Though they will find it eventually, you know, and paint it over." She glanced at it again, her face scrunching slightly. "And I do have to question why you decided to draw...that in the first place."
She blinked as he asked about the theater, only then realizing what she had let slip. Whoops. "No, no," she said hurriedly, perhaps a bit too much so. "I uh, just go there, sometimes. And as for ghosts..." She thought for a brief moment, trying to figure out what would make this person, who was obviously fully-human, the least likely to go sticking his nose into places it didn't belong. "It's...very haunted? Extremely so. Sometimes they even throw things." She wasn't sure if that would help or not, but if he was asking about ghosts, maybe that was an indicator of a prior concern.
Alex snorted when the girl stumbled over her name, but he didn’t catch onto her little fib. Mary was a normal enough name and she seemed like a normal enough girl, so far at least. Of course he jumped to take credit for the masterpiece slapped on the side of the dumpster. It was actually one of his better works, which was to say it was marginally better than the rest of the trash he tended to crank out.
“Yeah, I know. But that’s half the fun innit? Paint shit, make them go to all the trouble of painting over it, and then just do it again.” It was a stupid, stupid game but it wasn’t like Alex had the money or the means for any other sort of entertainment. “I mean, I painted that just because...I dunno, it was the most offensive thing I could think of outside of maybe like, a swastika, but I got standards yanno?” Causing exasperation was kind of his schtick, but being hateful….eh, too much effort.
‘Mary’s’ alarmed reaction had Alex quirking a brow, like maybe she might be hiding something, but she quickly covered it up with a statement that Alex bought hook, line, and sinker. “Aww hell naw. I got better things to do than let dead things throw shit at me. Why’d you wanna go in a place like that anyway?” Dead things, eew. Alex made a mental note to give the theatre a wide berth from then on.
As she had been taken by the Fae shortly before the Great Depression, It took her a moment to remember what a swastika was, and why it was bad (she was still in a state of slight disbelief that after everything that had ensued in the Great War, the world had decided to up and have a another go and wiping itself out). But something told her that this boy wouldn't really appreciate a history lesson at the moment. "Well, I'm certain somebody's going to be offended," she said quietly, but left it alone after that. Faun had always been a bit of a prude, especially for a 20s girl, but she was self-aware enough to at least try not to drag others down, even if their sense of humor was somewhat questionable.
At least she had succeeded in steering him away from the Theater and its secrets, though now she needed to think of an excuse for why she went there now. She certainly seemed to be good at sticking her foot in her mouth today. "Erm--I guess I like to go there to think," she fibbed. "The ghosts only really start making trouble at night, during the day everything is pretty quiet." Meanwhile, the hobgoblin, evidently bored with their conversation, clambered up her side and onto her shoulder, giving her hair an insistent tug. If it wasn't going to get to play chase, then it saw no purpose in walking when someone else could carry it. Faun winced at the brief pain, batting it's paw away. "You can be patient," she said to it. Hobgoblins were a tricky business, just as likely to befriend you as they were to bite you or put a curse on you. This one had yet to do anything worse than it had today, though she didn't ever pretend she knew its true nature. Still, there was only so much respect one could spare for something that looked like a stuffed animal come to life.
She glanced back to Alex, a thought occurring to her. "Are you with the college?" she asked curiously. He hadn't so much as batted an eye at her strange companion, which suggested he saw his fair share of weird things. If he was, did that mean he was aware of the changelings, or did was it only on a need-to-know basis?
Alex shrugged at the girl’s agreement that someone was going to be offended. Her approval or disapproval didn’t particularly matter to him, he was going to keep spray painting giant dongs on dumpsters until someone caught him. Well, even then he’d still try to find a way.
But any curiosity Alex had felt about the theatre dissipated the instant the girl had brought up ghosts. Nope nope nope. “You like to go there...to think?” Alex replied skeptically because who in their right mind liked to frequent a building with ghosts. But there were some real weird people in this town, she was probably one of them. “I guess that makes sense. Wait, you’re not one of those necromancers are you?” Because Alex had heard stories, and despite what he’d been told he still didn’t completely buy into the idea that not all necromancers were bad.
“Uh yeah, I go to school there.” Alex glanced between the girl and the hobgoblin, not particularly concerned about the creature’s presence but keeping an eye on it just in case. Who knew if they liked to bite. “I don’t actually have a major or anything yet, it’s just my first year.” Alex paused for a long, awkward moment. Smalltalk, right. He was supposed to ask her things too. “Uh, are you with the college too?”
Repulsed, Faun shook her head when Alex asked if she was a necromancer. "Lord, no! You mean you actually have those around here?" It was bad enough being stuck in a town full of goddamn wizards, she was understandably less than thrilled to learn that some of them were inclined towards desecrating dead bodies. Still, she did much prefer being back in reality to being stuck as a living statue back in the Hedge. So far, she hadn't hide nor hair of Corvus or his birds.
She considered his second question for a moment, searching once again for a plausible lie. Idly, she rubbed her fingers together, feeling the slight roughness of stone under her Mask. "No, I'm not. Though I guess I do have some magic." Not that she really knew how to use it. "I can work with stone, a bit. Nothing flashy, but it is what it is." A slightly mischievous idea came to her, and she lifted her hand, then concentrated. After the incident with Mr. Incounnue, she had been working on controlling her Mask to ensure nobody ever caught a full glimpse of her true form again. Now, she could let it slide on and off at will, whether in full or little bits. It was this trick she now attempted to replicate. She let her Mask fade around her hand, which was currently sporting a patch of granite that covered her palm, knuckles, and the last two fingers. To an onlooker, it would seem as if the stone had appeared on her out of thin air. She wiggled her fingers, noting the slower movement in the two petrified digits. "See?" Would he buy it? Was that even how magic worked for non-changelings?
She might as well run with it. "I'm learning how to--" The hoarse, telltale croak of a crow made her look over her shoulder, blood running cold out of pure reaction. Outside the alleyway, perched on a streetlight, was a large black bird, hunched against the cold. It was watching the crowds below with a keen interest, cocking its head back and forth and shuffling its wings. The rest of her hand, still free of the Mask, began to petrify, along with the rest of her true form. "How...how to--"
Maybe it was simply looking for scraps to steal. Maybe it was a perfectly ordinary bird. Maybe, when it happened to turn its head to look in her direction, it was only searching the alleyway for open trash bags. But when those black eyes flicked towards her, Faun bolted. The hobgoblin gave a startled yelp and held on for dear life as she ran the other way, away from the street and further into the narrow alleyway. Her gait was thrown off by her bad leg, lending an extra air of manic desperation, not that she didn't already look like a deer running for its life. She stumbled, knocking over a trash bin, then was gone around the corner of a building.
Hidden behind a stack of crates, Faun pressed herself against the cold bricks and tried to calm her hammering heart. The late-fall air stung her throat, but she gulped in great quantities of it anyway, fighting to regain some control over herself. She had turned almost completely stone, but kept a tight grip on her Mask, obscuring herself beneath a guise of normalcy. The hobgoblin, for once, seemed more perplexed than amused by her distress, and was peering at her with wide eyes. At any moment, she expected the alley to be swarming with crows. But there was no way--no way--Corvus could have found her...right?
“Yeah! There’s a guy who lives like…” Alex flailed an arm in the general direction of the guy’s house. “...over there somewhere. His name is Inconnue or something? I dunno, but someone told me he was a necromancer and that his wife is evil but like, smokin’ hot.” Alex had a suspicion that, like a game of telephone, he may have forgotten something in passing the story on, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what.
“Stone, that’s uh...cool.” Alex muttered in a way that couldn’t hide his apathy. People in this town could do all sorts of weird things and he wasn’t particularly impressed by Faun’s claims until… “What the fuuuuuuck.” He flinched backwards, wrinkling his nose in equal parts disgust and disbelief as stone began to slowly creep up Faun’s hand. Alex had studied at the university long enough to know if Faun’s particular brand of magic was rare or impressive or what, but maybe it wasn’t as lame as he had initially thought. “I don’t know how to do anything like that, mostly just...making myself scarce.” It was a nice way of saying he was really good at running away from his problems.
Alex didn’t even notice the crow’s presence, only that Faun suddenly seemed spooked and bolted off like a startled deer. “Uhhh...kaaaay?” It wasn’t that he particularly cared about Faun, but he wanted to know what had spooked her just in case it was something he ought to be running from too. He tucked his hands into his hoodie and walked briskly down the alleyway to the place he had last seen Faun. He turned the corner and saw nothing, but after pausing he was able to hear labored breathing coming from behind some crates.
Cautiously he peered around the stack. “Uh…” He spoke quietly, and glanced back over his shoulder. “What are you running away from? There wasn’t anything back there.”
She had managed to regain a measure of composure by the time Alex found her, though she was still white as a sheet. The drive to flee had rose unbidden and uncontrollable, it was unlikely she could have fought it if she tried. But now, as the adrenaline and blind terror wore off, Faun kicked herself mentally as she realized that she must have looked like a lunatic just now.
Well, she had already lied once, one more wasn't going to do too much.
"I--I saw a big crow on the lamp-post back there." she explained, watching his expression carefully and hoping that he was going to buy her story. "I've had some bad run-ins with them before--er, magic crows, that is. Not regular ones." Her skin crawled with memories of being eaten alive by hundreds of sharp, tearing beaks. They had liked to go for the soft parts first--the neck, the stomach, the eyes. It had always seemed to stretched into an agonizing eternity, with the blessed but far-too-temporary release of death at the end, lasting only until Corvus pulled her back to the realm of the living (or at least, whatever passed for living in Arcadia). "I don't think...I don't want to think...that that might have been one of them, but the way it was looking around..." The very idea that those tortures might be in her future once more was enough to set her shaking, and she gripped her elbows to keep it from being too noticeable.
Whatever his degree of belief, she wasn't seeing much sympathy in his expression. Perhaps that was for the best--people didn't pry or ask difficult questions if they didn't care, right? And technically, this wasn't even a lie! Just...not the entire truth. "Regardless, if you see a flock that looks bigger than normal, or ones that look like they're paying an awful lot of attention to the people around them, I wouldn't do anything to draw their attention." She knew Corvus enough to know that if he was looking for her, odds were he wouldn't give a damn if someone got in the way. Alex may not have been the friendliest person in the world, but she would still hate it if he, or anyone else, came to harm because of her.
It was then that she remembered who Alex had mentioned before her little episode. "Hey, you said something about a Mr. Inconnue, right? Greyish hair, has a look about him like he knows more than he should? I think we've met before." She had ended up confessing more than a little information about her and her kind to the man. She looked vaguely queasy. "Had no idea he was a necromancer, though."
What was it people were supposed to do in this situation? Ask if she was alright? Console her? Hell if Alex knew. Instead he just stood there with a gormless look on his face, staring at the poor girl. So it was a crow that had freaked her out. Alex gave her an amused little scoff before realizing that she wasn’t finished with her story. Ah, so it was magic crows that scared her. See, now that made more sense. Alex shrugged. “Not the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard, but still...yanno, weird.”
Faun didn’t look good at all, in fact she looked paler than the moon. Alex finally decided that he ought to do the right thing and cheer Faun up...somehow. This whole compassion thing was still new to him. “I saw a thing on TV once about crows. They’re supposed to be real smart and shit, like they can pick locks with sticks and twigs.” Because in Alex’s mind, rattling off poorly recalled snippets of documentaries was totally a nice and helpful thing to do. “What’d they ever do to you anyways? A crow’d eat your mother?” He laughed flippantly. Really, if he’d known what exactly Faun had been through, he wouldn’t have been so callous. But unfortunately for them both, he was just about as clueless as they came. Alex asked for clarification less out of curiosity and more out of concern for his own skin. Weird things happened in the valley and Alex had no intentions of being caught unawares.
Alex shifted his weight from foot to foot, kicking a chunk of gravel between his feet as he did so. “Oh yeah, Mr. What’s-his-name. I don’t actually know what he looks like, I just ended up on his roof this one time after I ran away from some pissy little garden gnomes. Some chick told me he’s a good necromancer, but I don’t know that I buy it. I mean, good and necromancer are kind of opposites, yeah? But I also heard someone say that he helps keep skeletons and other dead shit in the ground where they’re supposed to be so, I dunno, maybe he’s alright.”
He seemed to be buying it. Faun wasn't sure if he was just gullible, or if she was a better liar than she thought, but she wasn't questioning it. She gave a humorless snort and his tidbit of information. "How wonderful. So much for getting a lock for my windows." She did wonder if Corvus's birds were capable of doing such a thing on their own, though. Without orders from their Keeper, they rarely did anything other than perch silently in the dead trees surrounding the Aerie. Real crows were animated and raucous. Those had been almost robotic in their lack of initiative.
She blinked as he asked just what it was they had done to instill such fear in her. Shit. So he was going to start asking questions. She definitely couldn't tell him the truth now. From what she could glean from her meeting with Inconnue, changelings were barely understood at best and outright shunned at worst. She remember the implications in his words--that changelings weren't even considered fully human anymore. Inconnue's personal opinions had been mostly concealed behind a mask of professionalism, but this boy? Faun didn't think he had a professional bone in his body. If he knew what she really was, no doubt he'd be repulsed. Time for a real lie this time.
"They, uh--" She was never good under pressure. She made a helpless gesture with her hands. "I don't know what I ever did to get them mad. I was out in the park one day, and they just came out of nowhere and started mobbing me. I got away, but whenever I left the house, they'd show up and attack. It got to the point where I was too scared to step a foot outside." It was a shaky story, but she just couldn't tell him the truth--not about who sent the birds, or what they had done to make her so afraid of them. "That's why I'm learning to how to turn my skin into stone. So, the next time they show up, they'll just break their beaks if they try to mob me."
Faun was surprised to realize that she was hoping desperately for Alex not to find out her true nature.They weren't exactly friends, but when was the last time she had gotten to talk with someone her own age? She had left all her friends back in the twenties. There was Vreni, who probably wasn't much older than she was, but while she was nice enough, she was still Faun's boss. That put more than a bit of distance between them. The two older women she was living with, while not cruel in the slightest, never seemed to do more than coolly tolerate her presence. Even the hobgoblin sitting on her shoulder was too enigmatic in its actions and demeanor for her to judge if it was a friend or a freeloader. To tell the truth, Faun was alone. Maybe it was better that way--if worst came to worst and her Keeper was looking for her, then nobody would end up getting killed on her behalf. But it would have been nice to a friend or two.
The grim mood of their conversation took a somewhat-lighter turn as he recounted his tale of being treed by...garden gnomes? She couldn't stop a quizzical look from appearing on her face. "And how, pray tell, did you manage to anger a bunch of little men in pointy hats?" She didn't question the existence of said little men--after being kidnapped by evil faeries (well, "faeries") she wouldn't have batted an eye if she saw an elf ride by on a rainbow dragon. Nor did the mention of corpses reanimating do more than somewhat unsettle her. It was turning out to be far easier to accept Columbiana's oddities than think about them too hard.