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I scoff as I add my fifteenth comma to a sentence; I do not remember the last time I used a period, nor do I want to - my only focus is on my work, and the ghost of Oscar Wilde there in the corner, looking disdainfully upon the inferior peasants who keep their sentence structure at a reasonable length; a mocking titter escaping his lips every so often as he, too, realizes that no man will ever aspire to the heights of intellect that I am nearing - no, they will wallow in the slums of proper punctuation like dogs - stupid, filthy dogs - while I ascend to another plane, one where I shall write rambling, endless musings with the very gods themselves.

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So close. Max was so close to dodging them. He really needed to work on his power walk. At least they seemed like they had legitimate business here and didn't just show up to bother him, given that Flower Boy was trying to get the clerk's attention too, but Max sincerely doubted they were already headed this way before he had brought it up on the phone. And of course, the Retriever was walking over like he wanted to talk.

“Don’t tell me that is the thing you were talking about on the phone. I thought all that dog talk was a weird figure of speech or something. Where on earth did you get that?”

"I know colloquialisms are probably a bit rare up in your ivory tower, but I'm not quite sure what possessed you to think 'I need to make sure the dog doesn't shit all over the house' could be anything other than literal," Max grumbled with a dramatic roll of his eyes, "It's Eric's new pet rat. Apparently it's a gift for... someone."

He turned away and approached the counter, not too keen on a lengthy conversation when he had other priorities. "Hi, I'm Maxwell Alderman. My vampire just got switched and he neglected to tell me where my new dorm was." He then quirked his head back toward Aaron, apparently fielding two conversations at once. It was efficient enough, especially since he really didn't care whether he came off as rude.

"By the way, I don't recall inviting you to stalk me. Or was this just a happy accident?" Max's tone didn't make it sound very happy; more like a tragic twelve-car-pile-up-on-the-highway accident. And the road was blocked. And he was stuck in the traffic jam behind it. And he was late for work.

@Hero@Trainerblue192@Obscene Symphony

Max watched Liam depart with his usual nonchalance. That'd be useful if he ever needed a conjurer, he guessed. Not that he had any idea what scenario he could find himself in where he'd need that kind of thing. Maybe if the dog went missing or something. Max looked down at the animal in question, tilting her a bit upward to look at him.

"I think I offended him," He offered flatly, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was talking to a dog, "Now, where were we?"

The mage tucked Maxie back under his arm and prepared to continue on to the administrative building when he suddenly paused in place at the revelation that he had people watching him. Retriever. Not only did he decide to come stalk Max, he brought his whole harem with him. That was the last time he was going to ask Aaron anything. It was partially his own fault for humoring that blogger too, he'd already be inside if he hadn't stopped. It was like the universe was punishing him for being nice to people. Well, his version of nice, at least.

It was probably too late to pretend he hadn't seen them, but he could still delay the inevitable. Max promptly started walking toward the door without a second glance.

@Achronum@Hero@Trainerblue192@Obscene Symphony

Outta the way, sensor chad coming through. Lemme know if you want anything changed/editted.

“Aw, aren’t you the cutest thing around. Well, not quite. Your owner has you beat I think.”

Was everyone on this campus horny? The vampires he could understand, they were likely just eccentric hedonists or... whatever the hell Eris was, but now the mages were joining in. He must be hot or something. Still, the lack of fangs involved made this situation only mildly exasperating rather than outright weird like with Trenchcoat Guy.

“I’m Liam by the way. I run a dog blog so I took a picture earlier but I accidently caught your face in the picture. Not that I’m complaining but I didn’t want to post it without running it by you first. And ask you if you would let me take more pictures sometime? Whenever you’re available of course. I’ll treat you afterwards as thanks.”

A dog blog. Not only did this guy waste his time posting animals on a regular basis, there were people who actually considered that entertainment. At least he was nice enough to ask about putting the picture up online. Or he caught one of Max's death glares. What was he even supposed to tell this guy? He had no idea what Eris planned to do with this mutt, or for how long. It might end up getting turned into a scarf for all Max knew. Though, a photoshoot for the stupid thing would probably be right up Eris' alley, albeit with a more renowned photographer no doubt.

"I don't really care what you do with the picture, but this actually isn't my dog," Max explained apathetically, "I can ask the owner for you but I'm not really sure if he likes working with amateurs." That probably made no sense without context. How was Max supposed to describe Eris Samael without saying Eris Samael? "Like, he's got expensive tastes, and you're just... some guy with a website. I think." Max seriously hoped no one actually got famous off dog blogging. "Then again, he really likes attention, so..." The mage trailed off with a shrug.


Max took his place on the bus wordlessly, setting Maxie down on his lap and holdng her in place with one hand. He'd hoped that would be the end of it, but the little shit started squirming toward the window the moment the bus started moving. Why couldn't it just lay down like an obediant animal?

"Alright, alright, relax you stupid mutt," Max muttered as he lifted the dog closer to the window, where it promptly started... trying to scratch through it. It had barely been ten minutes since Eris left him with it and the rat was already trying to kill itself. "You'll die if you jump out there, moron." Why was he talking to it? It didn't understand him.

He turned back to his phone when he noticed some chucklefuck holding his own phone in the telltale 'I'm obviously taking a picture of you but I'm trying to pretend like I'm just holding my phone at a weird angle' position. Great. Had that guy seen Max with Eris? Or was he just interested in the dog doing something stupid? Max better not end up on a fucking meme. He was halfway ready to walk over and break that guy's phone. Would he even have to go over there? He was pretty sure phones were at least mostly metal. He had a focus now, he could rip it apart with the flick of his hand. But then he (read: Eris) would probably have to pay for it, and he didn't want to be in the leech's debt. Annoying.

Max spent the rest of the bus ride entertaining increasingly grandiose fantasies of how to dismember a phone with magic, then ripped Maxie away from her spot at the window as they reached their destination. He was well on his way to the administrative building when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Of course. Was this another Eris fan? Some glorified hall monitor coming to tell him animals needed to be leashed on campus? Oh, no, it was just picture guy. Maybe he would get to break a phone today.

“Sorry, I know this is a bit rude but can I pet your dog? She’s so cute.”

Max's go-to response was, of course, 'fuck off', but he supposed petting the dog was an easy enough request to grant that he wouldn't be saving much time telling the guy off compared to just humoring him. Max pulled Maxie out from under his arm and cradled her against his chest with both arms, presenting her to the other mage.

"Go for it," He flatly conceded. He had no idea what people's obsession with this thing was. Why couldn't Eris have gotten a cat? At least they leave you alone and clean up their own shit.

Collab with @Obscene Symphony

"Right, then. You're free to do as you please so long as you watch my little Maxie. She needs to be taken out every four to five hours, will need to eat at least one more time before she goes to bed, and has to be brushed at least once so that she gets used to the sensation. Everything you need will be in a red bag sitting on the kitchen counter--and she'll be very anxious so make sure she stays with you and sleeps in your room whenever you call it a night."

What an annoying laundry list. It wasn't much in actuality, but the way Eris rattled it off made it sound like he'd be busy all night. Couldn't he just tie the little rodent to a post outside and leave it at that? The leech hurried off before Max could give him a piece of his mind, which was unfortunate considering Max had genuinely intended to thank him for the focus. Oh well.

The mage made his way to the curb to head home when he had the wonderful realization that Eric conveniently forgot to tell him where home was. If Morrigan was no longer his partner, Max would have no reason to stay with him, and he sincerely doubted the vampires would be the ones who had their housing situations altered before the mages. Was he supposed to ask someone? Were campus services even still open? Even then, who would he ask? Was there like a housing department?

Aside from wandering around campus with this stupid dog in his arms like an aimless idiot looking for someone to answer his questions, Max really only had one reliable source of information at this point; as much as it pained him to even think of it like that. Regretfully, he pulled out his phone and scrolled down to ‘Retriever’ in his contacts. He could’ve texted him, but some people were sporadic about answering in a timely fashion. Big guns, then. His finger hovered over the call button briefly as he tucked Maxie awkwardly under his arm and, with a heavy sigh, he pressed it and put the phone to his ear.

There were a few rings before Aaron answered. “Hello? Max?” he greeted, sounding surprised.

“Hey. Our… mutual friends ditched me with this stupid dog and Eric- err, Eris forgot to tell me where his dorm even is. Is there somebody I ask about that?” Max grumbled back into the phone, starting on a casual stroll down the street. He didn’t want to be anywhere near that apothecary shop in case the employee from earlier came out to pet the dog or pester him with more questions.

There was some muffled talking on the other end of the line. “...The administrative building is probably your best bet, sounds like that’s where the student housing offices are,” Aaron finally replied. “Do you happen to know where our… friends went off to?”

Great, he’d get to have some petty functionary chide him over not knowing where to go. And what happened to his old dorm? Did some leech go through all his stuff? He’d heard about someone else’s dorm getting raided the night before, was this the same type of situation?

“Dunno. Probably some tea party where they can gossip more or whatever le- vampires do in their spare time. Eris looked pretty happy but he had some stupid actor persona on the whole time so I couldn’t tell if it was genuine.” On second thought, the vampire kind of implied he wouldn’t be back that night given the list of tasks Max was given, “My guess is your dorm, Eris acted like he was spending the night.” He refused to read into that. Especially with Cinnamon involved.

“Ah-hah…” Aaron hummed. “Thanks for the heads-up. Did you ever find out what happened to your first partner? Maybe administration can shed some light on that as well.” He paused. “Could be that your dorm didn’t change, although I somehow doubt Mr. Samael would agree to moving into a second-hand dorm.”

Max let out an audible groan at the reminder, “No idea. Eris said he bought me out or something along those lines. Guess I’m quality merchandise or something,” That joke would’ve probably gone smoother if he wasn’t talking to actual quality merchandise. Plus, his delivery was flat as always. “Supposing my dorm did change, did they go through all my stuff or am I expected to collect it myself?” He didn’t really have anything important in his room, but it was the principle that mattered.

“...I’d expect they moved it,” Aaron replied hesitantly, “but either way, I’m sure a visit to the housing office would be smart. Did Mr. Samael give you any tasks in the meantime?”

Max gave the dog squirming under his arm a quick glance. “Feed the dog and make sure it doesn’t shit in the house. Why, did you need my help licking Varis’ boots clean?” He knew it was uncalled for the moment he said it, but Eric wasn’t around for him to yell at so he’d settle for taking it out someone else. “That was a joke,” Max added flatly as a half-apology. It wasn’t.

There was a bit of a confused stutter and a sigh on the other end of the line, but Aaron didn’t comment. Mostly. “Is there anything else you need my help with? Kick-starting lethargic magic, for example? I just now thought of a new technique you could try.”

Was that a counter-jab? Decisions, decisions. Max could spill the secret right now, but he sort of wanted his debut to be a bit more dramatic. Maybe stabbing a guy.

Ew, he sounded like Eris there.

He let out a ‘pfft’ noise in response, aiming to sound equal parts dismissive and amused. Now he was really sounding like Eris. “I think I’ll be alright. Gotta make these professors earn their tenure somehow, right? Thanks, though. Really.”

There was a muffled chuckle on Aaron’s end, but his reply was sincere. “No problem. Let me know if you have any more trouble, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Right, I’ll forward you my complaint letter before the princess gets it so you can tell me my wording was too harsh. Oh, and give Eris a hard time for me if you get home and he’s sitting there.” Poor Retriever would be stuck with them all morning. Max almost felt bad. Almost. “Bye.”

“Have a good night.”

Max slipped his phone back into his pocket and lifted Maxie up to eye level. "Well, you heard him. Let's go find the administrative building." The thing had the audacity to lick his nose. He took that as an 'okay'. "Right," he muttered as he slipped the dog back under his arm and headed for the bus stop.

@Hero (sort of?)

“So… can you tell me a little about him? All my friends would be super jealous knowing I’d gotten to talk to Eris’ mage!”

Max made a show of toying with the bracelet a little before he bothered responding. This girl was so needy. He clasped the bracelet around his wrist, moved his arm a bit to see how the weight felt, lifted his leg up and loosely estimated how well it would fit around his ankle if he felt like hiding it under his pants; all the while pointedly avoiding looking at the employee. She was too eager; if he gave her an inch, she'd ask for a mile next.

"I don't really know much about him yet, we just met a few hours ago and haven't had a chance to properly talk," Max finally answered, if a bit tersely. Might as well exploit this excuse while he could. "And even if I did know, Eris is very careful about his public image, and I'd hate to accidentally jeopardize that with an offhanded comment."

Hopefully she'd take the hint and not tell all her friends to come bother him on campus later. Either way, he needed to change the subject. The bracelet worked as a focus for now, and he didn't think he'd find anything better on short notice. "Anyway, this is fine." He set the bracelet down on the counter, lest he be accused of trying to steal it. "Lemme go find Eris. He forgot to leave me any money." And like hell was he going to pay for it himself after having to sit through tonight.

The mage didn't wait for a response before walking off, looking around the store for whatever sordid corner Eris and Cinnamon slunk off to.


Max followed the employee silently, barely even taking notice of her beyond the vague recognition that she was there. The focus selection was more engaging, though not by much. Most of the section looked like it was catering to starry-eyed morons who valued superficial mysticism over practicality. Every aspiring wizard needs a ridiculous staff to wave around like a poorly-written character from a box office flop, obviously. Maybe that's why Eris brought him here; the leech had no doubt been in tons of such films.

The mage's attention shifted to the jewelry case as the girl pointed it out. Still too gaudy. Most of the items looked like some kind of flimsy-looking friendship bracelet crap that he doubted would survive any rigorous spellcasting. That left him with limited choices. He'd have to order something online sometime. In the meantime, he could probably make do with one of the thicker bracelets; although they only had one in a color that wasn't obnoxious. Almost looked like a shackle. How corny and poetic.

The girl was still playing with the keys next to him when Max turned to tell her his selection. Was she nervous or just new? The leeches weren't even around anymore, what did she even have to be nervous abo-

“Eris Samael is your partner?”

Oh. Of course.

“That must be amazing! You’re practically set for life! And he’s gorgeous! You must be the luckiest person in the school! Tell me all about him! Is he as amazing as all the magazines say? They say people line up for him to feed from. Is it mind blowing? Tell me everything!”

Oh, sure. Eris Samael is flawless. His hair's insured for ten thousand dollars and he does car commercials overseas. He met the Queen on a plane once and Her Majesty told him he was pretty. He even punched Max in the face one time, it was great!

Max outright rolled his eyes at the girl. How was he supposed to respond to that? Well, he could be honest, but knowing how these vapid fans are, she might just take that as a list of positive traits.

"He's certainly... something," Max deflected lazily, pointing to the dull-colored bracelet, "Can I try that one on?" If she didn't take the hint he could just pretend he was sworn to secrecy or something. Or better yet, feign ignorance. It was perfectly reasonable for Max to know literally nothing about a vampire he'd just met a few hours ago. That act wouldn't last for long, though, and he'd need a solid excuse if this was going to become a regular occurance. Maybe if he threw a chair at the paparazzi he'd get painted as enough of a loose cannon by tabloids to get fans to leave him alone.


Oooh, scary. Max clicked his tongue as Varis started his tirade, keeping his expression deliberately unimpressed. He spent more time weighing his options then he did actually comprehending what Cinnamon was babbling about; he could apologize like a cowed dog, but that would make it look like Varis had intimidated him into shape. On the other hand, he could keep talking now that he had less to lose. No, this game was annoying, but he had overstepped, and this round was Eris' victory. He might as well take his loss gracefully. The mage turned to Eris and put up his best scolded puppy look - he was mostly copying Aaron for reference - and bowed his head a bit.

"Apologies, it won't happen again." Max said curtly, trying to sound as sincere as possible without overplaying. He doubted Eris would believe him and he didn't really care whether the leech did or not, he just needed to put on a convincing show for the count. Besides, it wasn't a lie per se; he had no intention of letting Eris prod him like that again, though it would've been better if the leech had scolded him personally so Varis wouldn't get to feel like he'd won something there. He could've risked outright rolling his eyes, but that would've made it obvious he was just paying Eris lip service.

He followed behind Eris as the vampire made for the apothecary, keeping his posture even more sunken than usual in a continuation of his kicked dog charade. The shop was about as underwhelming as he expected, mostly weird plants and gross looking bottles. Max hoped the selection of wands wasn't all this place had to offer; he'd sooner figure out a way to turn his shoe into a focus before he started waving around a stick like a jackass to do magic.

Eris pinching his cheek like an excited grandma once they were inside was barely a surprise at this point, given how touchy the vampire had been earlier, but the infantilizing was a bit new. Still not surprising, but new. Max supposed this was his punishment. Admittedly, it was tempting to play the role of an incompetent child just to waste Eris' time, but he was probably more eager to leave than the leech was.

"Be nice to the employee, okay? They're here to help you,"

The employee wasn't the one Eris needed to worry about him not being nice to. Although Eris was technically still doing him a favor here, so there was no real need to call him a patronizing moron over a bit of pretend doting. Wasn't like Max had a reputation to uphold to some tool that worked at a glorified pharmacy.

"I was thinking jewelry or something," He muttered to the poor attendant that Eris roped into helping him as he walked over toward the focus displays, "Don't need anything fancy, just a metal anklet or something would work. The more subtle, the better. Make it two, if you have 'em." Max was definitely getting two. Fuck Eris. Not that this petty financial attack would likely do anything to the actor's no doubt substantial funds, it was the principle that counted.

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