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.
It had been a long couple of months. There had been weird faerie beasties attacking, magical suicide bombers (of both the local metaphorical and the literal types abroad), kidnappings, and none of that even mentioned the increasing tensions and factionalism cropping up amongst students and staff alike. This whole Free Council thing was putting a real strain on campus. Half the students wanted violent revolution right now. Half of those who didn't still wanted some kind of change as soon as humanly possible, ranging from a relaxed curfew to the Magisters abdicating peacefully. The last quarter of the student population? Well, they seemed to be of the mindset that the other three-fourths of their classmates were insane and the administration needed to 'keep them in line.' Interestingly? The Faculty seemed to divide along similar lines... only in reverse. To say that people were at each others throats would be the understatement of the decade, and the tension was so so palpable that Kim feared (as did many who knew of the possibility) that it might catalyze into a literal, living form.
That was what this party was supposed to be all about. God knows that there would be any other reason why she would be standing under an enormous wreath and handing out hot chocolate when she could be raiding Hellfire Citadel at home, or at least nursing this cough. To be fair, it wasn't exactly her idea. Maria Santiago, the de facto campus priest and resident "insufferably nice person" had suggested it at the last staff meeting. Apparently her prayer circles weren't reaching as many students as she hoped and thought a Christmas party would help soothe the strain students were feeling. After an hour of pointless bickering from the shaman-on-wheels about terminology, they were each assigned shifts at the "Holiday Party" here in the Grind. Hence why Kim was even here.
Kim sighed deeply as she topped off another half dozen cups of cocoa and rolling her eyes at Maria's over-enthusiastic attempts to get some reluctant students to partake in her 'make your own ornament' stations or hanging said creations of the communal tree on stage. That woman was so kind and generous and genuine... It always made Kim feel like a shitheel. Doubly so when she knew full well that Maria would have been here even if it weren't required and Kim would not. Kim grumbled lightly to herself, coughed lightly into a tissue, and plopped down in an overstuffed chair she'd pulled over next to the table for just this purpose and opened up her DS. Maybe if she focused only on the game and her job, the night would be over sooner, in lieu of someone coming over to chat instead of just grab a festive drink, it was the best plan she had...
A tall, broad-shouldered figure approached the table. Upon closer inspection, it is the dour groundskeeper. Dressed in simple, hardwearing work clothes, he looks very out of place against the backdrop of trendy students, nerdy overachievers and harried teachers.
"Uhm. Can I get some drinks? My workmates all want hot chocolate..." , his tone is slightly apologetic. Perhaps regretting having to disturb the drink vendor.
He gazes down at the slender young woman, sitting in the large armchair. He offers a small smile, though his face doesn't seem accustomed to such pleasantries.
"I guess they'll be wanting cinnamon, too...", he adds. The tone in his voice suggests that such festive accessories are not normally foremost in his mind.
As he stands there, he flexes his shoulders, as though either they ache from over exertion, or he's managed somehow to avoid using them at all. If he has been playing the role of supervisor to his aforementioned workmates, it is most likely the latter.
Kim didn't even look up as a handful of students wandered over and took cups of cocoa off the table without a word. Fair enough. They didn't want to chat up the Grad student and ex-Magister wunderkind? Well, she didn't want to chat them up either. It went as expected for a short time, as she sat and kept up her shiny farming, she barely paid any attention to the comings and goings of the guests, only hopping up every few minutes to top off a few more cups.
Then something unexpected did happen. She glanced over the top of her tiny device's screen and took in Walter. She had seen the man around before to be certain. Between him and that behemoth Lawrence they were probably the most recognizable groundsmen on campus. That said, she didn't think had ever met him, much less talked with him. Honestly, she found him a little intimidating. "Uhh... Sure."
Snapping the DS closed, she hoped back out of her chair and back to her post. "Uhm. How many do you need?" She smiled somewhat shakily at him as she began pouring the first cup. "And if you think they want cinnamon, feel free to grab one of the shakers over there..." She pointed with her elbow as she continued filling cups. "...We have three of them and I don't think more than one or two students have even tried any of it."
Pausing in her pouring, Kim stopped and stared at a pair of the students a few feet away. Until moments ago, the pair had seemed the typical "so-cute-its-almost-saccharine" couple. Even their cute little in-unison-coughing had been bugging the teriminally single Kim. Now though? They were shouting at each other as if they were a couple who just caught each other cheating. Kim barely had time to say "One sec..." to Walter as she took off running, seeing her bad feeling confirmed a moment later when the girl started trying to gouge out her lover's eyes.
Walter stood still and thought a moment. Perhaps caught off-guard by the unexpected question that really shouldn't have been an unexpected question. "Hmm, four... I think."
As the young woman set about preparing the drinks, Walter replied once more. "Well, they're getting cinnamon. Like it or not...", Walter grabbed the shaker and set to work on each mug in turn. Whether his workmates actually wanted cinnamon or not was anyone's guess, but Walter's decision was made as much for the benefit of the server as his companions.
Then Walter watched as his server darted off toward a couple of students. When he first started, Walt had noted all the students little spats and arguments and had attempted to intercede on more than one occasion. It soon became apparent to him, though, that his interruptions were not appreciated and that the addition of a hulking Scandinavian into these scenes rarely made things any better.
So, he watched with interest as the young woman went to deal with the matter. Hanging around just in case his particular brand of peacekeeping was to be required.
Until she took off to play peace keeper, Kim merely nodded as Walter spoke. He seemed to be confirming her suspicions that he wasn't much of a talker. Fair enough. He didn't seem a bad sort, even if he intimidated the shit out of her.
Then she was off, trying to pull the young woman off her beau. Holding a half hysterical young woman proved difficult and that wasn't even counting the fact that, now that she was off of him, the boyfriend seemed like he wanted to return her agression threefold.
The only thought going through Kim's head, while she desperately tried to keep the pair from hurting each other long enough to cool off, was wondering where the hell Maria was at the moment. The other Faculty member "on-duty" should be here helping. What Kim didn't know is that meanwhile, across the large room, Maria was attempting to wrest a pair of scissors simultaneously out of the arm where it was embedded in another student and from the grip of the one who had put it there. Why the stabbing? Maria's best guess would later be the former was withholding a particular color of glitter...
Meanwhile, Kim was preoccupied with her own issues. She was having trouble handling both, so she called out to Walter in the hopes he was still nearby (she couldn't spare the glance to be certain). "I'm gonna drop her, but I need someone to take out her boyfriend? Little help?" Taking a deep breath and momentarily dropping her guard to focus, Kim focused a blast of pure exhaustion into the mind of the girl and hoped that Walter was quick enough that she didn't get a smack upside the head for her trouble...
Walter had been watching the whole episode unfold. As a result, he was halfway toward the squabbling trio by the time the young woman called for help.
With surprisingly little movement, Walter interjected between the boyfriend and the two women. Over the matter of a mere few seconds, blows were exchanged and then somehow the boyfriend ended up laid upon the floor, with Walter holding him down.
It was only once the scene had unfolded that a clearer picture of what had happened came to the collective minds of any witnesses that might be watching. The boyfriend had attempted to strike first the women, then Walter himself. All 'blows' seemed to have been somehow redirected by the lumbering Scandinavian, though. Then, the groundskeeper seemed to quickly lower himself, somehow pulling the other combatant onto the floor and placing a knee upon him to hold him in place.
The boyfriend still looked as aggressive as before, but now a look of shock and surprise accompanied his rage.
"Are you okay?", was Walter's first question. Showing uncharacteristic concern for another.
Then he returned to his more pragmatic self. "Do we have any security we can call?"
The boyfriend subdued, for now, the dour groundskeeper turns his attention toward the girlfriend, who when last he looked, was being held back by the nice coffee girl.
’They don’t pay me enough for this…’ Kim thought as she held the bizarrely infuriated young woman at bay. The thought seemed doubly important a moment later as the young man tried to add himself to the struggle. Fortunately for Kim however, Walter had answered her call for support. She didn’t see what he did, but she certainly heard the young man hit the ground.
A moment later, as Kim’s psychic suggestion of sleepiness and exhaustion washed over the girl, Kim slowly lowered the girl to the floor. A moment of quick checking over the girl and ensuring that nothing was wrong beyond the magically induced slumber, Kim turned to see Walter holding the young man down. Nodding in answer to his question, Kim answered, “Yeah. I’m fine,” as she kneeled down and cast the same slumber spell on the boy as well.
Once both aggressors were asleep, Kim offered Walter a hand. “There should be security nearby, but they also should’ve arrived already…” She trailed off as she finally took the chance to look around.
Half the room seemed to have declared war on the other half. Students were all over the place and taking part in all sorts of bizarre conflicts. The smallest were simple pointed criticisms traded back and forth about clothing or artwork. The worst were brawls that seemed about to result in blood. “This isn’t good…” Kim’s concern seemed punctuated by a quick cough and she pointed to a uniformed UPD officer who was repeatedly smacking a young man in the stomach with his baton. “...especially since that would the back-up we were hoping for.”
Sighing, Kim looked over at Walter. “Any ideas? I could put them all to sleep like those two…” She jabbed a thumb to the sleeping duo on the floor. “But it’d take forever, and I’m not really sure how to do that before someone kills someone else…” She was so out of her element here she felt like a stone thrown into a pool. She pulled out her phone and a few button presses later she looked up at Walter. “Mansfield knows and is enroute, but same problem… How do we keep this under control until reinforcements arrive….?”
Eyes narrowing, Walter looks around at the ensuing riot in the making. Solutions were needed to minimise injuries until proper help could arrive.
Walter turned toward Kim with a look of mild desperation in his normally emotionless eyes. "You know where we can get any rope or cord? Anything nearby...", he asked.
He gestured with his free arm toward the chaos of the crowd. "We need to tie up all those who are threatening to cause injury. Those you can't..." He struggled for the right word, not being knowledgeable about such things. "...send to sleep, well... I'll try to restrain them."
The young man underneath Walter still struggled and tried to writhe out of Walter's control. All in vain, though. Walter was very strong and more than capable of restraining anyone for whom restraint was required. He could only manage one at a time, though. Two at most.
He gazed expectantly at Kim, hoping she could respond positively to his request. If Walter was honest, then deep down within him, he was pleased at the prospect of being able to put his training into practice. While he couldn't hurt anyone, they would be resisting opponents. Maybe they would even try their best to hurt him. A serious martial artist would consider that kind of 'practice' invaluable.
Kim hesitated, watching the increasing number of conflicts spreading around the room. What was this? She knew that political strife was a rising tide across campus and had been since SELF and the Free Council had released their manifesto. Was this part of that? She doubted it. This wasn’t their M.O., nor was it appropriate for the loyalists either. If it wasn’t that, what could possible cause this…?
“Hm?” She turned her attention back to Walter distractedly. “Rope? I guess there might be some in the utility closet from the last event…” She trailed off as she saw Maria get struck by a plastic craft container wielded by a disgruntled student. Before Kim could respond, she saw the young assailant drop the ground wracked with guilt. Apparently, Maria was realizing that she needed to fight back. Good.
“Sorry.” She turned back to Walter with a nod. “One sec.” She ran off to grab the requested rope, lightly touching those students along her path and sending waves of exhaustion through each. By the time she returned with a smallish bundle of nylon rope there were about half a dozen unconscious students in her wake. “I hope we can handle this…” She could already feel her exhaustion rising with each spell. WIth a slightly cough, she hoped that they could contain this but also that she wouldn’t force this cold to get worse…
Walter removed his gardening knife from the sheath on his belt. He nodded and took the nylon rope. "Thank you..."
Once he had cut an appropriate length, he bound the hands of the aggressively writhing student beneath him. Once the potential aggressor was incapacitated, Walter stood up. Shaking off his legs and stretching, he sighed and nodded.
"Okay, I guess we'd better start calming these lot down...?"
He moved toward the nearest couple whose arguments had finally descended into fighting. As soon as he was within reach, he wrapped a strong arm around the student he took to be the more physically violent of the two and dragged them backward.
Easily enough, he took the student to the ground, ready to tie them up. This time things were complicated, though, by the student who Walter had thought was the victim, raining blows back upon both his attacker and Walter himself.
Kim watched as Walter expertly tied down the young man from earlier. She couldn't help but nod appreciatively at his handy work, as she certainly wouldn't be able to do the same. "Impressive." She muttered as she pulled a tissue from her pocket and rubbed at her runny nose with a slight sniffle. "Oh, and you're welcome..." She smiled and nodded with the words before turning to scan the room again.
In that moment of distraction, as she looked around the room, she didn't immediately noticed that Walter had moved onto another group and was attempting to subdue them. "Yeah, I guess we..." She turned to see him halfway through tying one figure down and about to come under attack by another. "Crap!"
She quickly ran over and clumsily tackled the student. While she succeeded in knocking the young man aside, she also managed to tumble to the floor with him. Wrestling with the student for a few minutes, she finally managed to get a hand upon his head and mutter the words of her already much abused sleep spell. It worked to knock the young man out, but it seemed to have almost done the same to her. Eyes drooping, she looked ready to fall asleep when she glanced up at Walter.
"We have to figure out what's causing this... Why are they all doing this?" She coughed lightly. "What do they all have in common? And why aren't we affected." What she didn't notice as she spoke was that she was unconsciously clenching her fists and the increasing sound of panic and anger in her voice as she spoke. Staring intently at Walter, she looked increasingly panicked and ready to attack him herself...