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.
Ask anyone who conversed with Walter regularly and they'd probably commend him upon his English. When talking with him, it is easy to forget that it isn't his mother tongue. His accent is pronounced, but his command of the language is pretty comprehensive.
That said, his confidence in his English does not match his ability. Much of the time when he appears to be taciturn and uncommunicative, he is actually trying to think of the right words. He often looks back on prior conversations, wondering if there was any nuance he missed, or if he had misread the underlying message.
So, presented with the birdman's nonsense poem, Walter paused a long while, confusion etched upon his face. Walter thought he understood, but maybe he'd simply misunderstood. Or maybe this was another one of those sayings that he had yet to come across in conversation.
"Umm, that doesn't make sense... Does it?", for once, his tone was unsure and his normally cool exterior was confused and uncertain. He looked at the man, hoping for some explanation.
Dexter watched the man’s face with intense scrutiny, looking for any hint as to whether or not he was man or machine. The poem, of course, made perfect sense to Dexter. Everyone else...well, they were on their own. Dexter himself had failed to pick up on Walter’s accent, or the fact that a common english mnemonic device wouldn’t be easily comprehended by a foreigner.
“An error then...hmmm…” He muttered aloud, mostly to himself. Out of necessity he completely and intentionally ignored Walter’s request for clarification, after all he couldn’t go explaining his methods to someone who might not be human. Robots were getting to be wicked smart nowadays, and humanity couldn’t afford to have them learn how to beat a Turing test. Walter’s particular answer, or lack thereof, didn’t prove whether he was man or machine. But the answer he gave was not the answer Dexter had hoped to hear. “Well, we’ll try another question then.” Dexter brought a hand to his face, tapping his chin momentarily as he thought.
“Aha.” Dexter pulled back the sleeve of his ghillie suit and exposed an analog watch which he seemed to focus on. “Alright. what is Eighteen thousand, five hundred and eight plus twenty three thousand, five hundred and twenty three. Ready, set, go!”
Walter's confusion remained upon his stern, humourless features as he tried to determine why the birdman felt the need to ask all these questions. Then again, Walt had accepted the whole bird thing without complaint, so he might as well keep going along with things. After all, he was hungry and if answering a couple of maths questions got them to the sandwich bar sooner, then he was all for it.
He did a brief bit of mental arithmetic. "Umm, about... forty two thousand!? Ah, forty two thousand and thirty one."
He smiled at the guy in the ghillie suit, confident that he was right. The smile didn't really seem to fit quite right on his features, though. He wasn't a smiley kind of guy.
Dexter’s eyes remained glued to the face of his watch as Walter tried to find the answer to his arithmetic problem he’d been given. Walter himself was only fair to middling at math, but had long ago memorized both the question itself and its answer. The telling part would be how quickly Walter could compute the answer in his mind, or computer as it may be. As soon as the answer, the correct answer had been given, Dexter looked up from his watch face with a shocked expression. Under the ghillie suit his face blanched. “That was...quick. Too quick.”
There was only one conclusion that could be drawn from this evidence: Walter was a robot. A very good robot, but he was still a robot. As the last thing Dexter wanted was to be abducted and replaced by a cybernetic replication of himself, he knew in his heart the only way to proceed from here was to flee. And so that was exactly what he did.
With a yelp Dexter sprinted off across the green, disappearing into the night, leaving a trail of shed twigs and leaves in his wake
Walter watched in surprise as birdman fled across the green. His first instinct was to give chase, assuming that there was some emergency of which the man had suddenly become aware.
Much of Walter's self imposed training regimen was involved in developing speed from a standing start. So it was he found it not tremendously difficult to soon catch up with the rather manic gentleman.
"What's wrong?", Walter asked, his voice raised to counter the rushing of air between them.
Walter did well initially, but soon his relative lack of cardiovascular training would begin to show. Short bursts of speed were more his thing, endurance running was another mattter entirely.
Dexter had been hoping to give Walter the slip, but in dismay he looked back to see that it just wasn’t going to happen. Damn, robots sure were persistent. While not completely out of shape, Dexter certainly wasn’t in marathon running condition. Combined with the weight of his ghillie suit and equipment, he began to tire as Walter closed the distance between them. This was not good, not good at all.
“No human can possibly calculate the answer to that question so quickly! I timed it!” He huffed, trying to maintain a jogging pace but quickly slowing down. Glancing over his shoulder he saw Walter there, maintaining a steady pace behind him much in the way horror movie murderers did.
There was only one way it could go from here. Dexter slowed, intentionally this time, and jabbed his hand into one of his many pockets. From said pocket he pulled a handful of something and threw it at Walter’s face with a ragged cry, “POCKET SAND!” It was indeed a handful of mundane sand (mixed with a pinch of dryer lint). The cloud of sand billowed out between the two men, buying Dexter much needed time to gain speed and continue fleeing from Walter-the-robot.
The birdman's gambit successfully pulled off, Walter slowed to a stop over several half-stumbling paces. His hands rose to his eyes. Walter grunted as he did his best to manipulate his eyelids to allow the grains of sand to fall from his eyes.
"Helvete...", he mumbled as the birdman receded into the distance. It was no good. Walter would need several moments to remove the grit and regain his vision.