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.
During that horrible moment in the Hag where he thought he was going to die, Ellis had sworn he would start living life to the fullest if he somehow managed to make it out of the pub alive. Which he had. Made it out, that is; that bit about turning his life around was still on hold. Namely because he had become an even bigger hermit than he had been before. Which was on account of the fact that anyone who laid eyes on him could see that he was, in fact, a terrible soulless black-eyed paper monster.
Which meant he'd been spending quite a bit of time holed up in the apartment with a five-year-old who kept trying to draw all over him and a rabbit that kept trying to gnaw on him. And a Herb, who had miraculously not went running for the hills after he came clean about not being entirely human. Oh, and a Kate, too, lest he forget. But right now the five-year-old was in school, the rabbit was in gay baby jail, and the Herb was off doing whatever it was that Herbs with exploding star faces did in their spare time -- probably something with Avery. And the Kate was in her room.
Ellis himself had moved his sad depression nest from the bedroom to the living room in order to binge watch some shitty sitcom he had missed while he was in the hedge. It had Doogie Howser in it, Bob Saget was narrating for some reason... honestly, Ellis wasn't paying much attention, not when he was about two seconds away from going full nap on the couch.
Or he would have been if someone hadn't started knocking on the front door. Which was... odd. Kate was home, the squirt still had a few hours of school left, Herb would have just portaled in, even Avery had a key. Ellis lifted his head, peeking over the back of the couch and waiting it out for a second until-- knock, knock.
Those black shark-eyes narrowed, and Ellis huffed in annoyance, rolling off the couch with a grumble and walking over towards the door, looking through the peephole and pulling back with a start. He hadn't ever seen the guy in person, but Ellis was pretty damn sure the face on the other side of the door belonged to Mr. Kate Rook. Or Matt, as it were; either way that was definitely the guy from that Facebook album Kate had showed him.
Which was weird because Ellis was preeeetty sure that guy was stuck in Arcadia.
"Hrrrrnnn..." Ellis stepped away from the door, both hands running though his hair as a third set of knocks rapped against the door. Should he let him in? How did he know where Kate lived? He was here for her, right? Oh, shit, no, for the kid, duh, but-- something just felt off about all this, or maybe not, maybe it was all legit and Matt had just made his way out of the hedge but Ellis was just chock full of paranoia these days and so:
He shouted at the front door and then booked it over towards Kate's room, hastily knocking against the door before hissing, "Kaaaate, get out here, your not-husband's knocking on the door and I'm freaking out."
The first day off in weeks and Kate could swear that while she laid in bed that she could feel hear the stress aging her body. Somewhere between the double shifts to keep up with bills, and the upkeep of a kid, she was starting to unravel, no one needed to know that, no one needed to know she had cried herself to sleep the night before because somewhere in her mind she was still nineteen years old and scared. Scared of mistakes she made, scared of being an unprepared mother and mostly, just being an adult.
Today at least she had been all cried out, and after putting on that smile and sending Jack out of the door for school and checking in to make sure Ellis was alright in light of his most recent crisis, she had closed herself up in her room and tried to figure out how to make good on her promise to fix a lot of the things she had broken since she wasn't really an adult, but a frightened child lashing out at the unknown. Which hadn't been particularly fruitful, her comforter was covered with books borrowed from the store, each a tome or such on the fae...and most of it, just pop culture romanticism though she was certain that between that and the internet she could suss out enough truth to come up with something.
But the only thing she was getting out of the whole deal was frustrated, and she could feel her eyes burning again but she wouldn't give her emotions the satisfaction of tears. She was done with that bullshit, she was Kate Rook, and she had no time. Still she flopped back with an exaggerated sigh and kicked her little hooved legs in the air, right before grabbing a pillow and screaming.in it. Though her tantrum was short lived as a knock on the door caught her attention, a wiggle of her ears and she waited, knowing her roomie was in the living room watching TV, yet...go figure, someone wasn't getting the door.
She muttered from her half smothered state, and yet, the knocking continued and the pillow was tossed aside like she was ready to throw down until the particulars of this disaster was choked through her bedroom door, she unlocked it in an instant and squinted, hair almost as wild as her eyes were sunken. "What?" Oh no, it wasn't that she didn't believe him, it was that she didn't want to believe him, and yet...you couldn't fake that sort of earnestness, and that was terrible. "Shhhhhhhhit." She had a few guesses, and none of them were as optimistic as Ellis' and yet, she wasn't too certain what to do, so she decided to roll with it in lo of being able to rub enough brain cells together to formulate a plan. "Um...uh, let him in?" At least then, no matter what, it was contained and they could figure it out or something.
"I'm pretty sure it's him, I mean, I don't know for sure but..." Ellis shrugged and glanced over his shoulder towards the door, so caught up in this strange turn of events to notice the bags under Kate's eyes or the sad state of her hair. He glanced back at that drawn out curse, then quirked a brow at Kate's solution to the potential problem. "Uh... and let him see this?" Ellis gestured at his face, which would be as Mask-less to Matt as it was to both Kate and himself. "I don't-- oh, shit, wait, he was on the other side too, I forgot."
A quick slap to his forehead and Ellis was off, heading towards the door, taking another peek through the peephole, checking for anything weird about Matt and finding nothing. Oh, okay, so only some people got dicked over by the freak show committee, how nice. Ellis sighed, still feeling weirdly apprehensive about this whole thing, but he unlocked the apartment door all the same and peeked through the crack, not willing to swing it wide open for a complete stranger.
"Can I help you?" he asked, and upon closer inspection Matt looked more than a little frazzled, eyes wide and body language guarded, aside from the slight jump he gave when Ellis addressed him. Hmm.
"Uh-- maybe? I hope I have the right address, does-- does Kate Byrne-- er, Rook, live here?"
Okay, so he was stammering too. Ellis wasn't sure if that was normal but he was guessing not. Either way, Matt seemed completely unphased by the fact that he was talking to a walking sheet of parchment, not so much as a blink from the guy, which only helped raise Ellis' suspicions. Sure, if he had spent time in Arcadia he'd be used to this sort of thng, but even Ellis had been shocked to see Kate's true form the first time they had met. So this? This was weird.
Still, Kate said bring him in, and so Ellis brought him in. "Yeah, she's here. Come on." He opened the door fully and stepped aside, gesturing for Matt to enter, then glanced over towards the resident satyr's room and called out, "It's for you." As if Kate didn't know.
Kate sighed, "No I believe you, I just don't WANT to believe you." The key difference vocalized, because it just didn't do to stay in her thoughts as she was beginning to get racked with worry. So much so that she wasn't too preoccupied with the sorry state that Ellis was in, after all...it was how she always saw him. That was just how he looked to her. "See what? Oh...well, there's that." That was the part that made this all seem so very unlikely, because you didn't just waltz out of the hedge and make a house call. Right? Like it hadn't been that easy for her...
And it just didn't seem to get any easier as time went on. If all this was an indication of how things were just going to be from here on out. Kate sighed and rubbed her hands over her face in a few rapid flicks, trying to pump herself up, but as she looked into the mirror even she couldn't quite thump her chest as she might have even months ago. They say fake it til you make it...but the satyr wasn't sure if she even had that in her anymore.
Still, she put up a strong front as it was expected of her, and dammit, people needed her. Anyways least she could do considering that Ellis had willingly gone out to pull not-husband aggro, more so when she kinda suspected he was somehow more of an inhuman monster then the current residents of this apartment. He nailed it though, and Kate was more then grateful as she slipped on a Northface jacket and zipped it up all the way just so she didn't have to get uncomfy and get ready for this bullshit.
Being called 'Byrne' pulled a little chuff out her, tail flicking in annoyance that apparently that was still a thing, or wasn't a thing...or whatever, it was just a passing focus between her concerns as she pulled her hair up and out of her face control in spite of the bedlam and the bedhead. In a word, she was scared, but she straightened up tapped her hoof, none of that...nope, she had to toughen up, no matter who or what was on the other side of the door. So out Kate went a smile on her face as she tried to keep the suspicion out of her gaze. "Here I am." She chirped uncharacteristically of herself, a feed from a different sort of Kate that had disappeared over the hedge.
"Hi Matt...it's Matt right? Not Matthew...?"
She was feeling around with her questions, just trying to figure what he was all about by being...just a bit basic. though more importantly, hopefully a touch of forced conversation would keep Ellis in the room as well, in case something happened, what? Well hell if she knew...this all had her on edge, and here she was playing hostess. "You want a cup of coffee or something?"
A distinct and important distinction, that. Ellis nodded grimly, not wanting to believe it himself because he had a funny feeling this was gonna end badly. For whom, he didn't know. "Yeeeeah." It was bad enough when only people he chose could see him for what he was, but now that everyone and their mother could, he had been playing it extra careful. But if Matt really did spend a stint with the fairies, a guy made out of paper was probably going to be a pretty benign sight compared to some of the horrors over the hedge.
That chipper reply from Kate earned a 'wtf' face from Ellis, who wasn't used to that tone of voice from his roommate, and Matt didn't seem to react much either way, still standing there looking skittish even as Ellis closed the door behind him.
"R-right, Matt." The man sounded distracted, and Ellis couldn't help but notice that he was glancing back and forth around the room almost frantically. "No, no coffee, I-- I'm so glad I found you. Is Jack here? Did you send him to stay with Darcy or...?" There was an urgent tone to Matt's voice, and even if this guy wasn't acting weird as hell, Ellis would have stayed in the room all the same. Leave Kate alone with some strange guy she barely knew? Yeah, not happening, if it really came down to it Ellis had no doubt in his mind that Matt over here could kick his ass but still, there was a bro code to follow here, and that code said 'don't mess with my clique'.
Say what you wanted about how basic she sounded, but Kate had a feeling it would put this Matt at ease, though it did the opposite for Ellis, which she maybe should have expected, but what could be done about it? Not a whole lot, but he could just about drop the attitude about it, she shrugged at her roomie and made a face and then turned back, not exactly achieving what she wanted to do here.
This guy was just acting weird, now, in his defense Kate had to admit she had never seen him act any other way, but the guy she had met seemed less timid and more ballsy then this guy. He almost seemed up to something, like he was gonna get caught. By his keeper maybe? Though the witch hadn't seemed like someone that would have hunted anyone down, not like the huntsman...still, she might have been more at an advantage, the satyr wasn't one to show fear, and it looked strange to her on someone else. With that, her singsong tone dropped.
"Jack's at school."
Kate shifted her weight from hoof to hoof , crossing her arms across her chest not liking his answer nor how personal he had gotten immediately at the mention of the boy, who if she were thinking more clearly might have been a good sign, it was his son, but she had gotten a bit attached. Hers now. Not his. Especially if this wasn't the Matt he said he was, and she had her suspicions, though she had a feeling they both did. "So...what happened?" The elephant in the room, the question that had to be asked, and needed to be answered probably with no satisfactory answer.
Ellis had no idea how Matt normally acted, he'd never met the man until now, but having escaped the Hedge himself, he knew that paranoia and skittishness weren't exactly out of the norm. But still, if this guy really did just come tear-assing out of Arcadia and headed straight here, he didn't look any worse for the wear. When Ellis had escaped, he busted out of the treeline with twigs in his hair and briar cuts on his arms and tears in his clothes, and Matt over here had neatly combed hair and his god damn shirt tucked in.
Kate dropped the act fast, and Ellis took to leaning against the door with his arms crossed over his chest, blackened eyes stuck on Mr. Weirdo over here as he left the talking to his roommate. Matt breathed a sigh of relief at her answer, hands rubbing at his face for a moment before he was asked point blank what the hell he was doing here.
"The witch-- Marion, she-- she said she wanted to back out on the deal, that I wasn't a fair trade. Something about human children and magic, I don't know. She said she was going to go get Jack back, that she was going to use him for some ritual. She said she had to go 'prepare'. As soon as I saw her leave I ran." Matt took a step forward and splayed his hands out towards Kate. "You have to help me stop her! Please, you're the only person I can trust..."
Ellis quirked a brow, finding it more than a little too convenient that this guy managed to slip out of the Hedge when his Keeper turned her back for two seconds after Bond-villianing her plan to him. Not to mention that he was just laying all this info out in front of someone who was completely human as far as he knew. The whole thing just smelled fishy. Like, two-day-old-rotting-trout-left-out-in-the-sun fishy.
Everything about this just rubbed her the wrong way, she could feel the fur on the back of her neck bristle as she watched 'Matt' and his fidgeting, for whatever reason, the innocuous way he was behaving only made her blood boil, a state that was easily the norm for her when dealing with things outside her comfort zone. Like this, exactly like this. She chuffed, brows furrowed as she listened and picked holes in the man's story, key among them...
Her voice was the hot edge of a dull blade, yet she stepped forward and finally settled down on the couch next to her not-not-husband, crossing her legs as she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Well you poor thing, you're very lucky to have escaped." Again came a touch of saccharine to her tone. "Of course I'll help you stop Marion." The name was the key there, a promise wasn't a contract without a proper title, and Marion was not Muriel, and thus...she was in the clear. Though she was making a plan herself, and it wasn't anything good. Much like all her plans lately, she had to get that together, because she was Kate and she was perfect and this...was yet another smudge on an otherwise pristine track record.
She couldn't go with that and even with all this fish stank in the proverbial air, she kept leading this thing along. "What do we have to do?" Her eyes darted over at Ellis and it was one of those looks that just didn't 'look good' like the sort of wild eyed stare that followed statements like 'I can do that, hold my beer' and 'I'm gonna kill that bitch for my trust fund' both of which were exact statements that she knew her bestie had heard come out of her mouth and had seen first hand the fallout of her acting upon it.