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.
Beth rolled her eyes so hard it almost came with a sound, just the sort of thing you threw back at such a sick burn, such sass took a lot out of her, and she had to shake it off- she flicked her hair and returned to her business..."Sorry?" She wasn't sorry, there were plenty of times where he could have remedied that whole Brexit situation, maybe if he had been thinking the two of them could have gotten a place then maybe she wouldn't have been living in a tent out in what was literally hell's half acre. That was a lot of maybes. Of course the one she didn't mull over was that her complete and utter lack of communication of her wants and needs was a huge part of her beef.
Her beef was more or less with herself almost all the time. She grabbed a flyer and took the stapler and gave it a few thunks against the pole. "So I was thinking after this we could grab something to eat..." It was stupid prattle but it was better than going back to glowering, besides the heat of unbridled and unfocused rage just made her hungry, and the last thing anyone wanted was her hangry on top of things. She usually ate at night anyways, so...
A trailing thought of how she ate was broken by the sound of sirens in the distance, a lot of them...and Beth nearly jumped out of her skin. That was a lot more sound than she thought she had ever heard at night here. Like...did the valley even have that many emergency vehicles? "What the fuck?!" She tilted her head towards the direction it was coming towards, just a couple of blocks over.
"You ain't sorry." Calls 'em like he sees 'em, that was all that was. And really, why should Beth be sorry? It was Christian's own damn fault he was treading water in a Liverpool, and even though he'd wanted to move out since almost day one, that involved planning and budgeting and following through, three things he was notoriously bad at. It was like an unwanted sequel to his days at the Academy; a whole lotta wasted time with nothing good coming from it.
But he'd beat himself up over it all later, as was tradition, normally while staring at the ceiling in his room as he struggled to sleep against the sounds of Jude "My Feet Are Made Of Concrete" Anderson. You know, the usual.
The second light pole Beth went up against fared better than the first, and Christian moved the stack of flyers from one hand to the other absently as he said, "Yeah, sounds good. Maybe we can walk into Le Moist Baguette to get that kid at the counter's hopes up before going somewhere not fucking disgusting." Seriously, how did that place stay open? One of the great mysteries of a valley full of the damn things.
Another mystery? Where the hell the sudden cacophony of sirens was coming from. Christian's own gaze followed after Beth's, one eyebrow quirking up in a silent 'yeah, what the fuck?' of agreement, and without really thinking he started to head in the direction the sirens seemed to be wailing towards. This sounded like there was some primo rubber necking to be had, and if anyone thought he was gonna miss that, they were woefully mistaken.
Why? Why was every Fenwick destined to be a complete and total fuck up? This wasn't Noah Fenwick lamenting any long standing tradition so much as him chastising himself for being too late to read the writing on the wall. He had known James was up to something, had warned him he only had everything to lose by being a maverick, and yet...the dumb sop had gone and done it anyways. With a touch of magic (loathe that he was to ever use the term) he white knuckled the steering wheel and floored it on the gas- attempting to beat the cops before someone could die by them.
James had wanted his help? Well here was Noah- hoist by his own petard and all that. But no one could say he wasn't a good friend, and they already thought he was a terrible person.
Loping like the Patterson–Gimlin film, Noah found the town drunk and freshly minted terrorist. Breaking the slowest escape he had ever seen- he was barely a block or two over from the scene of the crime- and as a seasoned villain himself, Noah couldn't help but wince at someone's first dragging and staggered steps into 'the dark side of the shadow war. Noah didn't hesitate as he slammed the brakes and hopped the curb nearly running James over in the process. Which wasn't even the messiest part of the process, before the man could argue, Noah hit him with a sucker punch of a mean right hook- enough to drop the old bastard like a sack of potatoes.
After that? Well, given how little prep time he had been given, he needed plausible deniability for himself, he needed to get James somewhere safe so this could all blow over before his brother and the Council decided to string him up from the ramparts to prove a point. And he lucked out by finding a couple of SELFies walking towards the scene of the crime.
"Hey, hey kids.."
With his window down he slammed his rings on the car door. "You with SELF?" More importantly- were they with the right part of SELF? Really this was a goddamn disaster and now he was the worst man to play relief.
A little snicker was all Beth did to all but say 'Nope' because she didn't have to say it, they both knew. She regretted a lot of things in her life, but she couldn't sit and be sorry about any of them, or it would have devolved into a hell of a pity party all the way down. "Man that kid is so weird though, his voice makes me die on the inside." It sounded like a third grader playing a recorder, all reedy and out of tune, and it was just...."UGH." She shivered in horror at the thought, of that more than the restaurant that specialized in wet bread.
"Can't we just give up already and go to Denny's instead?"
Her voice came out in a plaintiff whine, but it didn't last too long before a great and powerful distraction of all hell breaking loose. "Let's go check it out..." It being what had piqued her curiosity, and she knew she was saying what they were both thinking, since going headlong into danger wasn't a caution either of them had. They had barely mall-walked their way a street over before a car curtailed them at the pass.
"Shit!" A yelp and she grabbed Christian by the elblow and held on for dear life just because she had been caught off guard and frankly, she tried really hard and failed to not be more alarmed by who it was that leaned out of the window. "F-f-Fenwick!" Because what was really the alarming part here? Someone who drove like an asshole, or an asshole that happened to be the magical equivalent of the boogieman.
"And those big saucer eyes? He's like a low budget Rescue Ranger." Just... nothing good to say about that kid, sorry not sorry, that was the motto regardless but damn, Christian was pretty sure puberty sailed right over the Moist Baguette boy. "Yeah, probably a better bet, at least the people at Denny's don't even fake being nice." There was something to be said for knowing exactly what you were walking into.
Which couldn't be said about whatever the hell they were headed towards. Which was part of the fun, of course, because despite the fact that it could be nothing but terrible around the corner, snooping on danger held a certain appeal. Christian nodded and followed after Beth, reaching the corner of the first block between them and whatever was going on when suddenly--
"Shit!" This was said in unison, and as Beth grabbed his elbow Christian stumbled backward in alarm and dropped the flyers he had been holding, not paying them any mind as they scattered about the sidewalk. Hie heart had taken up residence in his throat and he tried to swallow it down while taking in the sight before them. Fenwick indeed, and not one of the relatively harmless ones either. Nope, it was the grandmaster of stay ten feet away from at all costs, there in the flesh.
...With someone slumped over, ass up, in the backseat. Cause hey, sure, why not, that was totally normal? Fenwick was staring and asking questions, and seeing as how Beth was probably mid-stroke from the shock of a station wagon baha-ing dangerously close to to the curb, Christian decided he'd better answer professor nutjob before the guy decided to pull up even closer. But first, chastising.
"Jesus Christ man! The hell?!" There. that'd show 'em. Christian sighed, heart rate getting under control once again, and added, "Maybe. Why?" The real question here.
And that was the state of the toys that they had growing up, in no other world did a sub-thirty something know what a Mon-Chi-Chi then the state house, but hey at least she could use abject poverty for tasteful descriptions. Yeesh.
See this was exactly what curiosity got you, nothing but trouble, Beth kept her cling on as the Fenwick beckoned them over, her shock turning to more than mild annoyance at the fact she was caught off guard. How very dare. "There's a fucking body in the back seat." This wasn't met with any real horror, maybe more of that same nosiness that killed the proverbial cat, but it seemed to her that something bigger was afoot than a standard homicide.
Noah was growing impatient at things moving so slowly and the youthful sass...he had a timeline here he had to put together from scratch which didn't involve having to explain himself to a couple of slack jawed youths. Right he got it, he was so goddamn scary, but now was a good time to move on.
Behind those big sunglasses he rolled his eyes. "Calm down, I'm not with the cops and they aren't after me." Not yet anyways, and with luck they wouldn't. He sighed, getting a good look at the two, trying to get a read on them though they were just any other faces you'd see in the valley, about his baby brother's age, a realization that did a lot to soften up some of his edges before he spoke again.
"Good, listen, I got one of your guys here, and he needs somewhere to lay low for a little while."
He gestured towards the ass up drunkard who finally had the sense to groan.
Beth craned her neck towards the sound and was frankly relieved that it wasn't a dead body back there. Because it could have been- she relinquished her claw hold on Christian and took a few tentative steps towards the station wagon and the whoever that it was that needed their supposed help. "Is that James?"
Her brows knitted and she frowned, looking back at her backup. Because what the hell was going on?
Christian laughed, and wiggled is free hand before saying, "Mon Chi Chi, heh... if you told me that kid sucked his thumb I'd believe you." Which is exactly what that tiny little creepy monkey toy did, or at least it should have but someone at the orphanage had cut the thing's little thumb off and so, you know, not so much.
He still had his thumb but he might lose an arm if Beth's death didn't let up, which luckily it did, but honestly Christian barely noticed, because there was something about the way Beth said there was a 'body' in the backseat that was currently holding all his attention. Not a 'someone' in the backseat, but a body, and honestly? With Fenwick driving, that honestly might be the case. And so Christian kept it iffy, not confirming that they-- or more accurately Beth-- were involved with the asshats at SELF, though it seemed Fenwick already knew the answer.
The cop line was met with an indifferent 'hrmm' from Christian, not sure he was buying it all the way, and he narrowed his eyes before offering, "So?" He didn't give a crap if some SELF dumbass got themselves into trouble, that was on the dude in the backseat, homeboy could face the music himself--
And then Beth dropped the James bomb and Christian stepped forward, taking a closer look at the now-slightly moving body in the back of the station wagon and yup, that was Maria's dude. Husband? Boyfriend? Guy who took care of the lawn? He never really did get the whole story there, but it didn't matter; he was something to the woman who had supplied Christian with a roof over his head for nine years, and so that meant only one thing.
"...Tsk, fine. Whataya want us to do?" As in, where were they supposed to take him, and how? Didn't look like James was gonna be able to walk anywhere, though Christian supposed Fenwick already had a plan in mind.
Begrudgingly a little bark of laughter left Beth's mouth and she scowled at her own betrayal. Weren't they all in agreement that today was the day to be miserable?
At least it seemed fate agreed. Why would anything be easy? Why couldn't they just go cherry chase like normal people without any guilt, and more importantly, why did they have to deal with a Fenwick with a fucking body in the backseat? See these were the little questions that made Beth think she was cursed or some such nonsense, but hey if you were gonna be, it would most likely be in a place like this. So she didn't feel like she was being so much irrational as she was just using her noggin.
She and Christian played it cool, didn't let on to anything and maintained, this wasn't normal but Fenwick didn't need to know that.
Except that Noah did, no one in their right mind ever expected someone to cruise up on them like he did. With James sprawled flat in the backseat and him making half-assed demands. That wasn't right, but it was what the situation called for.
"So? If the Council gets their hands on him, they're gonna make an example out of him..." He tipped his glasses down his nose and stared at the two with beady dark eyes. "...and let me spell that out for you: that means if they find him now they'll probably kill him. If we wait a few days and let cooler minds prevail, I'll be better for him." Spoken like a man who knew his bit about mage-law...then again, he lived it, and he barely survived.
With the creak of the car door latch opening, slowing getting out of the car so they didn't panic. These two SELFies needed to get their shit together and make sense of all this, because you know what? He was still reeling at whatever this all was, so they could kinda sorta take their time, but not too much. "I want you to take my car, get him somewhere they won't find him...maybe the woods?" There weren't a lot of people willing to go out there, "I'm gonna report my car stolen, so when you stash him, drive it off into the ravine or an overpass or something...get creative but total it so it seems like someone went joyriding."
This was a bit much to take in, and Beth's brows lifted as she listened to some grandiose plan to hide what wasn't a body, but a living, breathing person that they knew rather tangentially but...they knew.She would have been lying if she didn't feel as though she owed it to Maria to keep this guy alive- but man did she have her reservations. You know given that she didn't know what he had done, but still, when her mouth opened she was more overcome with the thrill that came with the promise of adventure her life sorely lacked.
"Yeah, I think we can do that."
Beth looked at Christian and glanced towards the car and gave him a nudge. "Can't we?" As though he'd say no, oh he'd bitch and moan, but she knew that he wouldn't say no.
Was that a laugh? Christian decided to chalk that up to a win. See, now all they had to do was go get some burnt coffee and make fun of the Moon Over My Hammy in a booth that was weirdly sticky and things would be back to normal.
Or it would have been if Fendizzle and J-Unit didn't just roll up and throw a wrench in their sad dinner plans. But they had, and so now Christian's mind switched to quasi-defensive, cynical mode, cause ain't no way a dude driving around in a station wagon with another dude passed out in the back was gonna ask for a the kind of favor anyone would wanna do. Like, you know, asking for help hiding a wanted criminal and wrecking a car.
“Dude...” Christian’s hands came up and ran down the front of his face, sighing heavily as his fingers paused for a moment over his mouth. What did James do? That was a helluva lot of sirens. Something fucked up enough that the Council was after blood. Now wasn’t that interesting? Hiding a man on the run, dodging the cops all the while, and getting full permission to wreck a car? It was like a perfect cocktail of dangerous, exciting, and stupid, just the thing someone who had become stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of boredom and monotony would find appealing…
But no, come on, that was insane, no way he was gonna do that. Christian opened his mouth to tell Fenwick no deal, but Beth beat him to the punch, only to agree. Wait, what? No way he was going to agree to that, she could do whatever she wanted, that was her business but--
“Yeah, we can.” The words came out of his mouth before he really considered them, and Christian’s eyebrows jumped up in response. Well, shit, okay, guess they were doing this. A slight smile began to pull at the corners of his mouth, and he stepped off the curb as Beth nudged him forward. “But if we’re seriously doing this, I’m driving.” Cause if anyone was gonna make a car go over a cliff, it was abso-fucking-lutely gonna be him.
Beth echoed the sentiment, but with a tone that said: This sounded kinda cool. As Fenwick violently gesticulated and gave them the 4-11 on the situation, all in all, sounded bad bro. A smarter person with more going for her might have just walked away, maybe dialed for help on that app that did a silent call to emergency services or something. But she was here willing to live dangerously, just to feel alive or whatever. But really, it beat the hell out of posting flyers and going to Denny's...besides, who didn't want to blow up a car?
Not that he said blow it up, but she supposed the two of them would find a way. Because reasons.
So the usually button down, straight laced Hepzibeth El Baz spoke for the both of them, and she chose the option that would have best been described as 'fucking insane'. Why? Well, it could have been a myriad of reasons, but she didn't have the time to unpack all of that. Instead her eyes flashed mischievously as she grinned at Christian "Fine, whatever..." Not like she knew how to drive anyways, and this wasn't about the time to learn.
"Great. Well, don't hurt yourselves."
Not a good luck, or a thank you, because you had to earn that sort of thing, time would tell if these two had fate on their side, and he wasn't about to sound gracious until it was a sure thing that James wasn't just a dead man in waiting. 'I'll get in touch with one of you when things seem safe to do so." And that bought him some time, he hopped onto the curb and passed the two of them. "Give 'em hell." Noah smirked and patted the young man on the shoulder, he remembered his first vehicle fraud destruction, this was...truly a keystone moment for him He was glad to be a part of it.
Beth slid into the car and buckled up almost immediately, like an over excited kid ready to go. Still, her nose wrinkled as she watched Fenwick give Christian some unheard words of advice? What did he call him champ or something? "Hey comeon, let's go!" She poked her head out the window trying to goad her buddy on, knowing full well he was gonna lope along at his own pace. Which for her was far, far too slow for her liking.
Man Fenwick noodled around a lot when he talked. Maybe that wasn’t what Christian should have been taking away from this whole thing, but there was something decidedly Muppet-y about it, and honestly if James had popped in the backseat and let loose with a “Mahna Mahna” he really wouldn’t have been surprised. And really? Two background members of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem stealing a car and running from the cops sounded like a bad skit from Robot Chicken, and wasn’t there that whole thing about when in Rome? Must be, because Beth seemed to be rolling with the notion.
Once he got the go-ahead to get behind the steering wheel, that smile turned into a grin, and Christian was starting to get a little giddy. This… this was exciting, in like the worst way, but he’d take it, even if it ended in flames he was sure the ride would be fun. Which was crazy-man thinking, to be sure, but shit, he needed something new, something stupid, just something, and this? This was some messed up version of something, and he just agreed to go all-in.
He nodded at Fenwick when the other man said he was going to contact them, confident the resident spazz would be able to figure out how without having to exchange any additional info. The shoulder pat was met with a salute and an, “Aye aye, cap’n.” And then off Fenwick went, which meant it was go-time, and Christian rounded the front of the car, following Beth’s order to get moving, and slid into the driver’s seat, adjusting the seat before glancing over at his partner in crime. “I haven’t driven since the Impala died. So like, what… five years?” In other words, strap in baby, it was gonna be a bumpy ride. Or maybe a slow grandpa-like one.
It started grandpa-esque at least, which was just fine, better not to draw attention to them as the station wagon started a slow roll away from the scene of whatever crime James committed. Which prompted Christian to ask, “...Whataya think he did?”