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 was often said that to make even the hardest decisions in life, one needed only to change their perspective. Well, Kim had tried everything she could imagine and more to wrap her head around the question hounding her. Nothing seemed to work. She had written dozens of lists regarding pros and cons. She had created computer models to analyze possible outcomes both personal and globally based on potential choices and what she understood of socio-political information. She had even done the unthinkable, something she swore she would never again do if she needed help: she had called her mother.
Despite all efforts and approaches she had tried, all Kim had to show for it was a lot of frustration and uncomfortable plans to visit her parents and introduce a boyfriend she didn't have at Thanksgiving. She hated it. She hated everything right now. She even hated herself for being so indecisive. It simply wasn't like her to stall and stick on something like this. Hell, she had given up her Magister-hood after a single conversation and a sound night of sleep. This time was different though...
They had given her a week to come up with an answer to their offer, and she had used almost every minute of that time up agonizing over it. She couldn't even sleep. Now, as the minutes ticked by to midnight of the day where she was expected to answer, she still had no idea what she would do. She had sworn she would have an answer by morning, which meant she couldn't sleep until she had made a decision. Which was why she was sitting, upside down in an overstuffed chair, in the university coffee shop with nearly a dozen empty coffee cups on the small table in front of her. "This has to work. Blood flow in the brain should help stimulate thought, and thus a decision..." She didn't quite believe her own mutterings, but she screwed up her face in concentration as her face slowly turned bright red...
The biggest downside to being a short-term hire at the Academy? They didn't give you an office. Jeff had made due over the summer, utilizing everything from the break room table in the teacher's lounge to claiming manifest destiny on Fenwick's desk when the techno-mage hadn't been using it, but the fall semester brought with it more students, and thus more work on his end. Since he had agreed to stay on for at least the next twelve weeks, the higher ups had told him they'd find him somewhere to set up shop, but until then, Jeff was mobile.
He could have graded the landscape shots his newest batch of undergrads had taken in the lounge, but the coffee they stocked therein wasn't fair trade, so Jeff found himself heading over to The Grind to fuel up on caffeine for the upcoming grade-a-thon. One short wait in line later, and Jeff picked out a table, ready to get down to work until he caught sight of a pair of feet dangling over the back of one of the cafe's overstuffed chairs.
Well, that warranted a curious bit of snooping.
He left the folders full of photos on the table but took his coffee with him, wandering over towards where-- upon closer inspection-- Kim was doing her best impression of a bored kid left alone in a living room, her face already a fine shade of red by the time Jeff mosied on over. "Oooor it could cause the capillaries in your head to expand and you could end up with a blood clot that starves your brain of the oxygen it needs to keep your motor skills goin'." A brief pause to take a sip of his coffee and offer up a sage nod, and then, "Take it from the guy who almost froze to death upside-down in a snow bank. Couldn't hold a fork for a week after I came to."
"Ah!" Kim had not expected anyone else to still be in the Grind at this hour, especially not anyone who would approach and speak with her. Thus, Jeff had caught her completely off guard and honestly had scared the crap out of her. Well, not literally thank god, but it was enough of a spook that she lost her precarious upside down balance and send her tumbling to the floor face first. After falling, she simply lay there for a long moment red-faced and with her neck twisted at an odd (but not medically dangerous) angle. "Ow..." She winced as she spoke and looked up at the man who had spoken.
Staring up at Jeff, she couldn't help but chortle at the image she must present to him. Snickering as she pushed her self onto her elbows and knees. "Fair points, Mr. Angehrn. But you forgot to mention the slight problem with gravity." She paused. "Well, you did, but about the blood flow. Not the falling. But, yeah..." Kim wasn't the most socially adept individual at the best of times, but caught off guard and immediately embarassing herself thereafter... Well, it only made things worse. She sounded almost like her mentor there, though she stuttered less than Noah she supposed. "Sorry, sorry. I guess with the blood rushing, then the head trauma, I'm a little out of sorts..."
She sat there, letting her face drain of the blood and regaining her bearings before pulling herself back up onto her chair but right side up this time. "So." She glanced between Jeff and another nearby overstuffed chair. "Um. Want to sit down? Maybe tell me about nearly freezing to death." She winced at that, knowing full well how awkward and uncomfortable she'd be if he actually took her up on the offer. Then again, maybe the distraction would help her make her decision easier. Put things in perspective or something. Either way, she was realizing that she didn't really want to be alone with her thoughts at the moment...
"Ah!" Kim yelped, and Jeff-- surprised in turn by the sound-- mimicked the sentiment. Luckily for the floor of the Grind, and the computer science professor crumpled up upon it, he managed not to drop his still-piping hot coffee. "Oh, jeez, are you okay? I am sooo sorry." Whoops, his bad, though if he really thought about it, Kim probably had her own heartbeat thumping in her ears when he had shuffled his way over; no wonder she hadn't heard him.
Jeff was ready to offer her a hand up should she need it, but it appeared Kim things under control. "Why you gotta be like that, gravity?" A question not meant to garner an answer, that. If Kim was some sort of social dunce, Jeff hardly noticed, or if he did, he let it slide by without another thought. After all, this was a guy who spent a good deal of his time around rambling stoner types; this was hardly anything new. "Hey, no worries. Happens to the best of us." A beat. "Well, maybe not the head trauma part..."
The social awkwardness hadn't really thrown him, but there was something about Kim's body language that gave Jeff the idea that she wasn't really comfortable with the idea of chit-chatting, and so he offered up a compromise without stating as much. "Sure, just for a bit. I have a stack of papers that won't grade themselves eyeballing me." He jerked a thumb towards the table he had claimed a moment before as he plopped down in the nearby empty chair, then shrugged.
"It's actually a pretty boring story. Right after graduating high school, I had the bright idea that roughing out in the wilds of Canada would be totally awesome despite the fact I didn't have the first bit of survival training to fall back on." A pause to take a sip of coffee, and then: "Made it about a week before I lost my footing at the top of a hill and bam, went ass-over-tea kettle right into some choice packing snow." Another shrug. "Pretty sure I would've been eaten by a moose or something if I didn't end up awakening." So, you know, not a total loss, all things considered, but man, what a way to wake your mind up.
"So, quid pro quo: what's with the fruit bat routine?" Jeff waved a hand in Kim's general direction, referring to the whole hanging upside down thing and not, you know, insinuating she looked like a pug-nosed flying rat or anything.
Jeff's mutual surprise did little to stifle the giggles that Kim had, she just kept imagining what someone else would have seen if they had been watching the two. First her falling with a squeak of surprise followed by his own yelp, it was a hilarious image to say the least. Anywho... "Don't worry about it. Nothing that wasn't my fault, really." She smiled brightly at that, showing her dismissal of his need to apologize was true and genuine. "I'm fine and kind of deserved it, so you have nothing to apologize for, seriously." She waved her hand as she said it, by way of emphasis.
"Stupid gravity indeed!" She shook her fist at the heavens before pausing, reevaluating where her jesting ire should be directed, then shaking her fist at the ground. "Gotta make sure the right force gets my complaint..." She smiled at that, continuing her attempt to laugh off the awkward embarrassment. "Eh. Trauma's normal. At least head trauma. At least for me. Well, not really. I do bang my head a lot. When I'm not paying attention. I'm rambling aren't I?" She laughed a bit, mentally smacking herself for letting it get away from her like that again. "Sorry. Late night. Coffee. You know how it goes..." She hoped.
As Jeff began relating his brief tale, she took the chance to get herself re-situated on her chair. Nodding all the while, to show that she was still listening, she started picking up coffee cups and shaking them, checking for one that still had liquid in it. Finally, she found one and assuming it was her most recent coffee acquisition, took a long sip. The blanched expression on her face no doubt revealed just how wrong she was in guessing it was recent. Shaking her head, she picked up another and feeling its warmth realized this was her current cup and finally looked up at him and nodded again. "I don't think moose eat meat, though..." She paused, before smacking herself on the forehead for missing the obvious joke. "Oh! Sorry..." She winced a bit. "Good thing though, right? You made it out okay, and with magic to boot. Could've been worse...?" She sipped her coffee, trying to hide her blushing as left-over blood having rushed to her head.
Then she almost spit it out as he directly asked her. Coughing a bit at the sudden question having caused a bit of coffee to shoot down the wrong tube, Kim's eyes darted to his much too quickly and the coughing turned to nervous laughter again. "Hehehe... Sorry. Caught me off guard there..." Not really, but she had been avoiding thinking too much about that hadn't she? That was what she was using him for, right? A distraction? How dare he ask a reasonable question! "I mean, I dunno. I was trying to stimulate thinking... I'm trying to make a tough decision and I find myself liking both sides of the issue, which is making it hard, and I have to decide by tomorrow, which is making it harder, and I dunno..." She kind of deflated a bit, sinking into the cushions of the chair a bit as she did so. "So as stupid as it sounds, I was trying to get a different perspective on the problem... Literally..."
Did people smile when they were concussed? Probably not. Jeff could have given Kim a life-magic once-over if he really felt so inclined, but seeing as how that weird angle her neck had adopted a few seconds ago seemed to have straightened itself out, seemed like a kinda moot point. "Alright, apology redacted. In its place I offer a sympathetic 'ouch'." Seemed like a fair trade.
There was something decidedly weird about Kim, the good kind of weird, dare he say quirky, and Jeff grinned at that fist-shake to the sky. "Oh, totally." Rule number one about living in Columbiana Valley; don't piss off the wrong cosmic force. Or maybe that was rule number two. Whatever, it was on the list somewhere, Jeff was sure of it. He was also sure that yeah, Kim was indeed rambling, and he nodded a few times throughout that mish-mash of words until they finally came to an end. "Eh, maybe just a little." Jeff lifted his coffee cup and gave it a slight shake at her follow up explanation, then smirked before adding, "Absolutely I do. Fueling up for a long night of paper-grading myself." Which he'd get to eventually. Probably.
Jeff had been told numerous times that he tended to drag his stories out, namely by Steve or one of the students in his class whose eyes had long-ago glazed over listening to him drone on, and so he made a conscious effort to spare Kim the finer details of his idiotic escapades. He only paused long enough to snicker at that cold-coffee expression that came over Kim's face, then blinked as his not-so-great joke seemingly flew over her head. But she recovered quick enough, and Jeff pointed his pinky out from the side of his coffee cup in her general direction before chiding, "Careful, or you might knock yourself out yet." Ha cha cha. "Oh yeah, could've been much worse. Should've been much worse. But hey, I'm not complaining."
He also wasn't coughing. Couldn't say the same for Kim. Jeff claimed a seat and nearly hopped back back to his feet, waiting to see the universal sign for 'I'm okay'-- you know, one hand up in the air shooing away the person constantly asking as much. "I'm the one who's sorry. I'd have felt suuuuper bad if you had hacked up a lung or something." Sure were a lot of potential hazards for the computer science professor in that there coffee shop. Another round of rambling, but this one was much more coherent, and Jeff hummed thoughtfully. "Well I'd say you succeeded there." Seeing as how she had literally flipped herself upside down.
"Do you want a sounding board, maybe?" A beat. "Not that I'm in any position to give anybody advice, mind you, but sometimes talking it out helps." Up came a hand, a silent 'whatever you want, mang', as Jeff took a sip of his drink. "Totally cool if not, of course." Whatevah whatevah.
"Offer accepted." Kim jokingly held out a hand to shake, as if their informal social deal were all official. Regardless of Jeff's response and whether he reciprocated, she smiled and carried on with other matters. "Hm. Grading. Don't remind me." She sighed and leaned back in her chair. "I mean, the autonommous algorithms I designed do most of the heavy lifting there, but they don't have true sentience, meaning I have to check in on them fairly often. Which I have sort of been putting off..." Not the only thing she had been putting off, obviously. She lifted her coffee in a toast and added, "Hooray for procrastination!"
Shortly thereafter however she began her deflation and she sighed with a faint smile. "You'd be sorry? I think I'd be sorrier if I lost a lung there, wouldn't I?" She smirked, but it was tinged with melancholy. She had been trying to avoid thinking about the matters which bothered her and she had failed. That meant it was somewhat dominating her thoughts and thus putting a damper on her typically upbeat demeanor. "Yeah, it worked I suppose. At least in the literal sense. DIdn't do a whole lot to actually help me out though. So... There's that."
"I guess a sounding board might help though..." Of course it would. She'd already considered doing so hadn't she? Granted, calling up her mom might not have been the wisest of decisions, causing the can of worms that was her parents to open had hurt more than it had helped. Jeff might prove to be more helpful however, coonsidering he didn't have a stake in her decision. Well, unless they had already approached him and he accepted. Or they had approached him and rejected them. Or even if he just had a strong opinion about recent events altogether. They all could color his input, but even that might prove to be enough...
"Well, I dunno where to start." She sighed and leaned forward, putting her head in her hands for a moment while she organized her thoughts. "Well, let me put it this way. You know how the big difference between a revolutionary and a terrorist is which side of the fight you're on?" She paused, still not sure if this was the right way to be framing this discussion. "Or rather, whether a rebellion is right or not depending on whether you're the rebel or the establishment? Well, what if you found yourself somewhere in between?" She sighed. "I mean. What if you were like, a French Noble and you agreed with the Revolution. You know that the people have a very good point and you want to help them, but at the same time all your friends and family are the very people that everyone wants to arrest and execute? Is it better to keep supporting the nobles to hopefully protect those you care about? Or is it better to follow your heart, knowing that you might have to watch rioters destroy them?"
She stared up at the ceiling for a moment before adding. "On the one hand, you do what you think is right and your conscience is clear. Also you know that maybe, just maybe, your involvement might be one more voice preventing something like the Reign of Terror from happening. On the other hand, you're betraying friends and family and tradition to stand with a bunch of firebrands that might turn on themselves and end up just destroying everything that you hold dear out of some sort of overzealous attempt to fix what's wrong?" She shook her head. "Now I have the charismatic Robespierre knocking on my door and asking me if I support the revolution. I agree with their points, for the most part, but I'm a part of the very things that they're rebelling against and I don't know what to do. They're expecting a response soon, but I just don't know..." She looked up at Jeff, her eyes wet with 'almost tears.' "I just don't know..."