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Balcerzak

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About Balcerzak

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  • Birthday 04/23/1983

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  1. Jade's initial response to Nessraya's surprisingly pragmatic point of view on the situation was anger. She'd bit back any snappy comeback she might have wanted to say, the zombie could ill afford to spoil whatever good will she'd accrued after all, but the feelings of That's easy for you to say, lingered. The general'd never been in her shoes, had she? How could she get penance without punishment? It was only after everyone had filed into the arena for the full aftermath to get sorted out that the realization hit the merchant. Her mind had of course gone immediately to vampires as another possible case of, as--how had she put it--"sudden onset hunger". This, of course, in spite of Lavinia mentioning that in all her years she'd never gotten the urges that bad. So, had the woman been referring to another species then? ...a succubus in heat, perhaps? Maybe Nessraya did know exactly where Jade was coming from. And when she got to thinking that, she just felt empty inside for awhile. Not relieved--though she should have been grateful that the expedition leader was so understanding--just... hollowed out. Spent. Ashamed of herself. Sorting out the treasure return, the rewards offered, the revelation of the hero in their midst. Everything passed Jade by, like she were stalled at the side of the road, replacing a broken wagon wheel. She should apologize; that would be best. But as she'd decided and begun to work up the nerve, as she'd turned to look at Bladen, the man had briefly caught her eye--or at least she thought he did--then quickly looked away, answering something Asami had asked him. He was incredibly obvious about keeping his distance, and who could blame him? Later then. After he'd had some time to work things through. After she'd had some time to work things through. For now, Jade needed to do something to occupy her mind. No more of this standing around, having to play the same thoughts on loop over and over again. Maybe she should take BV for a ride? Maybe she should practice blowing smoke rings. ...Maybe she should take a closer look at Marina's Holy Sword? The Hero had just... dropped it off in her wagon. Things appeared to have come to a conclusion, and people were beginning to filter out, dismiss themselves. It was time to follow suit. No fanfare, no announcements, the merchant would just quietly, calmly exit the arena and walk back to her wagon, get her 'mares settled back into the stables, and then, well, then...
  2. Agni had requested thrown weaponry, and the option Jade had provided seemed to have proven effective, if the cursing from the other side of the building was any indication. The alleyway was much too narrow for her to take her wagon down, but maybe she could follow the man's lead on this one? The zombie was readying her rifle for a shot when the general stopped by. Her magical attentions were welcome, but her questions... less so. An unhappy grimace crossed the merchant's face, and the brief thought of refusing to answer crossed her mind. But Nessraya would hear the truth sooner or later, so better it come from her now, than to try to dodge it, right? "I wish I could tell all the details, but the truth is I lost myself for a bit there. I heard it secondhand that I attacked Bladen, so you should probably see about treating him. I think Lavinia said you'd be better for that than her? I don't remember." Jade finished sighting and squeezed the trigger. "...If you wanna restrain me, I won't resist," she demonstrated her willingness to comply by setting down the gun, and descending from her seat at the reins to the succubus's level on the ground. Hopefully her shot had connected with the rowdy elf, had given her one last good deed to help balance out the ledger before the general took whatever actions she saw fit. Jade scoots between Agni and Nessraya and shoots at Nimbus with the Rifle
  3. Chapter 34, 4 turns Chapter 35, 2 turns Total Turns: 157
  4. Moments, not minutes. That was good. A small wave of relief began to wash over Jade's face, but then the sober news dropped. She'd attacked Bladen while she was out of control. There were no excuses, the zombie just turned her head, down and to the side, and just stared past the vampire's waist to the ground. Lavinia kept talking, it didn't really register, her internal dialogue with herself was already deeply enmeshed in figuring out how she'd phrase her goodbyes. A group this important could hardly stand to have a rogue like her around, after all. The general would kick her out, and she'd go back on her way, hitting the road again, returning to the lonely solo merchant life. Something cold, round, and hard pressed into her hand finally brought a stop to the narrative playing out in her head, Lavinia's hand squeezing Jade's fingers shut around it and the vampire's voice came back into focus now, driving off other distractions. Jade had at least one ally, and at least one other option. It wasn't something being recommended, necessarily. But it was a gift of mercy as a last resort, if nothing else. It gave Jade a strange kinship to that archetypal ex-captain, marooned on a deserted isle, holding the pistol with one bullet in it that his former crew had left him. The merchant had no idea what she should say, she simply nodded, and took the precious gift. It was still too soon to use it, but maybe just having it... just knowing it was there would be enough? Jade tried to smile, at least a little, but it probably looked gruesome. "Something to figure out later," the zombie managed haltingly, replying to the vampire's other attempt to cheer her up, having put forth an offer for mutual help with the healing. "The town is still in danger, no?" And that did seem to be the common consensus, and now convinced that Jade was no longer a danger to herself or others, Lavinia hurried off to heal Xalrei. Where should she go, how should she help out? Stumbling back to her wagon, her 'mares gave some concerned sounding whinnies as she climbed up to the driver seat, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary there. Jade needed to steer a wide berth from the fallen she'd run afoul, so heading straight to the source of the problem, the swordsman leading this operation from out of the arena, that was off the table. Might just be better heading back toward the center of town, see if anybody needed help with anything. Along the way, the merchant almost bumped ran over Agni, but pulled to the side in time and called down after him. "How goes? Everything all right with you? Need anything?" head on over to agni (10,6) and deliver him some ranged goods
  5. "...de ...mm ah... ..ak... up! ...ease! Jade?" Sounds. Words, but off-pitch: sometimes high and tinny, other times low and muffled. Not quite like trying to understand someone speaking to you while your head is held underwater, but honestly not quite that different either. At some point the repeated entreaties pierced through the haze and the fog, and Jade found that she was herself again. It came with a sense of almost vertigo; she wasn't looking where she had been in her last memory, things were off-balance, all akilter. One hand hit the ground, to keep herself from collapsing, and with the other the the zombie somewhat sheepishly brought it to her mouth and began wiping away the mess and the gore she'd left on her face. She couldn't bear to keep looking Lavinia in the eyes. It was the vampire that had been shaking her, and who now embraced her, even in such a despicable state as she was. Of course. Who else would risk it? If she were in their shoes, she certainly wouldn't. Who could blame them? "...Hhh. How long have I been... indisposed?" Jade managed after a few moments. It was all she could really bring herself to say.
  6. Another faint tugging, strength sapping, as Requiem did its work. Given how zombies felt pain, the cursed sword was much more noticeable to Jade than the dagger that Richter threw her way, even if the latter actually did more damage, would require more to properly mend. The vampire's aim had been good, right for center of mass; if she'd been living, it might have changed that. As it was now, the only concerns it presented the merchant were getting her to start thinking about how she probably ought to pull it out, so as not to upset Marina if she were to catch sight of it, and then the stray idle thought that now there'd probably be matching scars on her chest, one on each side. It was as she was distracted then, that Bladen swooped in, snatched Requiem from her and tried some fancy moves with it. Jade grumbled halfheartedly--inaudible to anyone without exceptional hearing, and only then if they were standing rather nearby--first mimicking his promise to return it, then muttering about whether it would have really been too much for the man to ask for permission rather than forgiveness. But despite the posturing, she really wasn't all that upset. Just observing the sword being used, changing forms, taking lives... it was fascinating no matter who held it. Would she have maybe liked to fire another couple rounds with it before having to give it up, yes, but it wasn't as if she didn't have other guns. And so she'd turned, eyeing the rifle she'd set down in the passenger seat, wondering if maybe it wasn't the time to try that baby out. That was when the axe caught her between the shoulder-blades, and then as the thief wielding it wrenched backward, she came with it, pulled from her place behind the reins and falling to the ground, rolling some distance away. The pistol at her belt would have to do it then. By the time the thought had finished, she'd already fired the shot; the bullet entered the base of dwarf's chin, and blasted a hole in the back of his skull, scattering blood and brains behind him. It smelled... delicious. She was hungry. Famished. Ravenous. Jade awoke to a buffet of smells, all around her. One delightful smell even closer than the dwarf that had triggered the change in her. Not quite like roasted chicken, but almost. Duck? No... swan. Black swan. Not roasted though, but that was fine too. Raw was also good. Just, avoid getting a mouthful of feathers. Lumbering to her feet, she found herself barely a half a stride away. Time to just, reach out and... When Bladen felt a hand clasp on his shoulder, he probably didn't think much of it. Seemed to think it was just Jade come to get the sword, "Oh come on, I said I'd give it--AUGH!" But the dismissive protestation quickly gave way to a scream of pain as he felt sharp teeth close firmly around him, biting deeply into the flesh of his upper arm. Not his dominant hand, thankfully, and instinctively he swung hard at the assailant with the pommel of his sword, a loud crack sounding out as reward for his efforts. The vicegrip tightness slackened, and he was able to shove the attacker away, although they lashed out in return, sharp nails scoring deep marks across his chest as they tore through his shirt. But that was the last of it, the unbalanced attacker had fallen. Reaching a hand to her dislocated jaw, clumsily trying to shove it back into place, the eyes that stared up at him were tiny, blazing red points, burning at the center of pupils gone wide enough to swallow the entire iris. Wait, he recognized that face. "...Jade? What the..." But she was reaching out for his ankle now, so kicking the grasping hand away he quickly beat a retreat, and as he turned to check if he'd made it far enough away he saw her turn and crawl the other direction. Towards a fallen body.
  7. Haha, more or less. December was busy as everything, but I managed to finish up the next map over the past couple days. Took quite the tinkering till I was happy with it. Sorry again for shelving this for so long. Chapter 33, 5 turns Total Turns: 151
  8. Mmm, the sword did sap strength, she could feel it tugging at her, sucking a small stream of the magic that kept her animated for its own use. But, all things told, it wasn't so bad as she'd expected, from having a look at Xalrei's condition. Curious. Well, the dragon probably took several hits from her opponents as well, let's not blame everything on Requiem. The strange newcomer did, it turns out, speak the common tongue... though their command of it was perhaps suspect, as Taiyute kept slipping in and out of that and gibberish. There'd be time enough later to ask her where she was from, and when she'd arrived, and why here, but for now the zombie's words seemed to be effective. The rest of her group should be safe from any third party interference. She nodded, and pointed in the direction of one thief that had just been spotted exiting someone's home. "If you wouldn't mind, I think your services could best be put to use there. I will see about," Jade frowned as she turned her head to consider Richter, "I will draw the attention of the vampire, don't worry, you will be able to pass him by." Bracing herself for another siphon of strength as she fueled Requiem, the merchant drove her cart closer, took aim, and stated, "You picked the wrong time to turn on this town." Jade to 13-3, Requiem shoot Richter
  9. Marina had dropped off the holy sword in the back of her cart. It was taking a lot of restraint to not just, take a small break from the fight, pop on back there and take a look at it while she had the chance. It would be legitimate, it had been entrusted to her, she needed to keep it safe right, especially with thieves on the loose? On the other hand, she could just pay attention nobody gets close enough to steal it, and then do the looking afterward. The Hero sounded... bitter, disillusioned with the sword; she wasn't likely to make great haste to reclaim it. The merchant ought to have amply time later. That really was the right call, just, a hard one to stomach. Jade's best recourse to keep her mind of the Holy Sword was to instead occupy her attentions with the current condition of that other magical sword, Requiem. Xalrei still had it, of course. The dragon had quickly taken a shine to the blade, it seemed. At least, she'd never complained to Jade about it. But, taking the opportunity to watch her fight with it--an opportunity the zombie hadn't had in the previous fights, as they'd either been separated or too preoccupied, not nearly side-by-side like currently--it was clear the cursed blade really did have an almost draining effect on the wielder. So much so, that Xalrei even sheathed the blade and began to use her plain iron axe for a bit. Jade pressed her lips into a worried line. On the one hand, she had lent it out, she probably shouldn't meddle. On the other hand, it had started to awaken, and might work in her hands now, like it had when she'd asked the dragonewt to activate it while in their shared grasp. That had certainly been an experience. ...If it didn't work, she still had her pistol, and also the rifle; Xalrei could always ask for it back after she'd stopped to catch her breath, gotten one of the healers to pay her some attention. There was nothing lost by asking. If the young dragon said 'no', that would be fine, but if she said 'yes', that would be exciting. Rolling up alongside the 'newt, Jade called out. "I, uh, I don't mean this the wrong way at all, but I couldn't help notice you've stopped using Requiem for the moment. If you need to gather your strength some before killing with it again, you wouldn't mind, uh, lending it back to me to have another try with it, would you?" "T-Take it..." Xalrei replied, barely managing to keep herself up. "It's yours, anyway..." "Just until you ask for it back, then," she agreed, failing to keep an eager grin from her face as she was passed the cursed blade. The magic item rather quickly changed its form to one more comfortable for her to wield. 10,6 take requiem from Xalrei, shoot Armor Thief, Canto to 14,4 and speak to strange person Well done, strange blade... the zombie thought in Requiem's general direction. You actually make a pretty good gun. Her wagon carried with its momentum, and rolled past the narrowing of the lane and into a more open area of the town, where a curious sight caught her attention. A stranger was also embroiled in fighting with the nighttime ruffians. And what a stranger! Wielding wing magic and speaking in tongues Jade had never heard. "Well met, stranger," the merchant called out as she pulled up beside the new face. "I don't know if you can understand me, but I hope you'll be able to figure it out by actions, if not by words, that I mean you no harm. Me and my companions are also engaged with these ruffians. Most of them are back there, more toward the center of town. So if you head that way, please only attack the actual rioters, not those trying to keep the peace."
  10. After she'd finished readying up, and while Lavinia was rousing the others, Jade had gone to the stables and hitched up her 'mares to her wagon. If something truly unfortunate happened and they needed to make a premature exit from town, the merchant wanted to be as ready as possible. When it became apparent that the night raid seemed to be involving champions from the arena, that threw a real curveball into her understanding of the situation. What purpose? Why now? Jade had half a mind to go straight to the leader, still holding position outside the place where they'd fought earlier in the evening, but the general was leading a push to break through to the larger knots of conflict to the east. Realizing that even if she asked, it was unlikely she'd get an answer, and that stemming the harm was more important that satisfying curiosity, the zombie followed suit, driving over eastward, and firing a swift shot and one of the elves making up the muscle on the south side. Jade 9,6 , Revolver on Merc 2
  11. Jade was glad it was dark out, and that Agni was human, with worse night-vision than most inhabitants of Vaia. Being called a lady, and having him act all chivalrous was unexpected, and she was pretty sure she blushed a little, even if the man had no deeper meaning than simply following customs. They were just customs that she hadn't been receiving for a long time now, so... "Right, we'll just take our time then," the merchant agreed, and they began slowly following in the footsteps of the two that had hurried off ahead. It looked like Marina had stopped moving, but she might start up again, it was hard to tell. If not, and she rejoined, and the party was three again like when Lavinia asked her to see them home, then that would be that. If she followed the vampire again, well, that was also a path, and should still get everyone back to the inn all right.
  12. At Irvine pointing his finger, Linus turned to get a look. That was interesting, and fortunately for Linus, unlike the Motherloader, he hadn't ordered anything. "You know what," he said, pushing himself up from his seat. "Dunno about you, Helena, but I'm gonna go check that out. And Irvine, I'm sure there'll still be some room to see what's going on if you wanna finish up your food first. Worst case, Aska and I can fill you in on the good stuff you missed out on." He had a bit of a smile on his face as he waved goodbye to the team members and the robot maid, then made his way to the field. It wasn't difficult to spot where the costumed member of the team had pitched his tent, so to speak, and Linus had had every intention of heading over and watching the show while making a little small talk, but another unexpected happened. Euphrosyne came barreling out from the mansion, full throttle, and tried to put a stop to the impromptu demonstration. Her efforts were unsuccessful, and she landed rather close by, so just a small reroute and he was standing beside the sulking serf. "That's not going to cause any permanent problems, is it," Linus asked, mostly from politeness. Then he followed up with another interest that was on his mind. "And how are the girls doing. Almost done changing?"
  13. Jade didn't have her portable fire pot with her, a small earthenware thing she kept a few coals going in for easy access when driving her wagon, but that didn't leave her without the necessary means. A couple of them, in fact, but the zombie wasn't in the mood for striking flint against steel and catching the sparks on charpaper. So instead she withdrew a thin wooden spill from a leather holder, and coaxed Deep Vermilion--whom she had collected in preparation for the trek back to the inn--to snort a little fire, allowing her to light it and transfer the flame in a controlled manner. Only once had she attempted lighting a pipe directly from Nightmare fire. Never again. The merchant had then been puffing away, lost in thought. Bladen and Asami were out on a walk, leisurely coming this way. Perhaps some time in the arena was in their future? Or maybe just out for a night stroll, a casual date. Thinking if anyone was keeping closer watch on her, Lavinia, and the humans, it might be best to not transfer any suspicion to the other pair, Jade opted not to call out to them. When the three Jade had left behind had wrapped up their congratulations, and the vampire had finished her business with the bookkeeper then stepped out to talk with her, well, any traces of the fox and the bird were pretty well banished from her mind. A light tug on a lock of her hair, and the sound of in-drawn breath. The zombie froze, a curious tingle seemed to have run up the length of her hair and into her scalp. Surely it was pure fantasy, but there it was. The idle comment afterward too... Jade's brain was screaming, That's the point, but too embarrassed to actually say it, she merely mumbled, "If so, that would be nice." She paused then, not sure whether to elaborate on what exactly was burning, but just as she'd decided to go ahead, Lavinia did seem interested, it wasn't going to be just her prattling on to an unlucky victim... Asami had closed all distance, and started in on teasings of her own. The merchant's eyes quickly pivoted to the kitsune, trying to gauge how serious her jests. If Lavinia was in the habit of accidental flirts, then that probably explained everything, solved all the mysteries. It was maybe disappointing--wait it was? Had she really been hoping...? The thought surprised her a little--but it made more sense than the alternative. But then the fox struck a nerve. One that was clearly raw and exposed, as the response was immediate and violent. Jade could merely watch in stunned silence at the exchange: kitsune lifted like a ragdoll, lectured, then thrown at unsuspecting Bladen. Lavinia then strode off, clearly upset, in the direction of the inn, her longer legs, better build, and manner of undeath buying her a speed Jade had no hope of matching. Not without riding her down on horseback... which would definitely be out of place. Removing the pipe from her mouth, and rubbing out the embers with her thumb, the zombie pressed her lips into a thin line. "Well, Agni," she began to speak, still processing ongoing developments. Marina hadn't waited, and instead had taken the path not available to the zombie, had begun chasing the vampire down on foot. "I guess that just happened. Are you going to rush off after M... after Cianna too? It's fine if you want to. Understandable, even." Truthfully, Jade expected her 'mission' to fail before it even began, and was preparing for a slow walk back all alone. She was used to being alone though.
  14. Itchy. Uncomfortable. Somehow watching Marina run, hug, shed tears for Lavinia was hitting Jade in a way that it hadn't when the Hero had done the same for Agni. Maybe it was because it was hot off the heels of her attempts to reassure her having fallen short of the mark? The human had seemed confused, finding the zombie's efforts awkward, yet Jade wasn't sure how she could have done it any better. Or maybe it was because Jade could see herself in Lavinia's place more easily than she could imagine herself as Agni, and doing so hurt. Was she... jealous? She shouldn't be. While the merchant didn't know the full depth of Marina and Lavinia's bond, it was obviously not something she could compete with, to have hoped to achieved. She was just a random traveller, met a little over a day ago. ...And even if Marina had been inclined to giving her such a show of affection, Lavinia had already beaten the hero to the punch, having swooped Jade up in her arms almost immediately when she'd returned from her foray in the arena. It's not like she hadn't been exuberant in her own way, cheering and clapping. So why couldn't she just be happy for the vampire? There was also the lingering worry that an excess of concern being shown like this would just further underscore the abnormalities of the group, further betray the act. So Jade's smile may have seemed more wooden than she meant it to, and her congratulations may have fallen slightly flatter than they should have, perhaps. "Snake was a tough opponent, you did well to get there, to give him a fight," she nodded as she caught the archer's gaze. Agni would surely have his own words to give, and the zombie could feel things stretching out longer than they realistically should. It wasn't fair to the vampire, to cut her celebration shorter than everyone else's, but having realized they may not be safe, the zombie was feeling anxious. She needed to calm down. Maybe a smoke would help? "I'm going to step outside and light up, I think," she excused herself, and bringing the bit of her pipe to her mouth, began to make for the exit. Just pressing it past her lips, feeling it between her teeth was already having an effect. Comforting. Tasty.
  15. Agni's obvious fluster was the perfect reward to her jest, though maybe she had pushed a little too far. The man's halting reply belied his discomfort, and Jade moved to smooth it over a little, hoping her chuckles weren't counterproductive. "I apologize. Too much, too fast? But you certainly are an earnest one..." There was no more time for idle chatter however, as the round had begun. More than Lavinia losing her head--Jade remembered how bloodthirsty Snake had been, how he probably would have disemboweled her if she hadn't got a lucky shot off in time and managed to put a stop to him--what really took the zombie aback was Marina's scream. It was, honestly speaking, a pleasant surprise. A human--a living human--was so emotionally invested and worried over an undead that she would lose her mind like this, thinking something dreadful had happened. If that wasn't a stark contrast to the reception the merchant had gotten when she'd snuck across the border to try to visit her family... So, how could she repay this genuine display of emotion? What way was there for her to comfort and calm the distraught hero? Marina had been so excited she hadn't been able to keep to her seat, had been practically hanging over the rail, to get as close to the action. So pure, devoted, worried... and now, nervous laugh broadcasting it clearly, so shaken. When the Hero turned to face her and Agni, almost without thinking it Jade rose, took a step forward, wrapped the girl in her arm and pulled her close in a hug. Not sure how much adding words would help, the zombie offered some anyway. "I'd be surprised if this was the first time for her, she'll be fine." Pulling back far enough to unfasten the ribbon around her neck, revealing the scar that hid beneath it, she continued. "I almost lost my head my first year," a bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but for a good cause, "If there were anywhere for it to happen, here in an arena is probably the safest. Clean sharp weapons, nothing dull or rusted, healers on-hand." No, this probably didn't do anything to assuage. Still holding the ribbon she'd removed in her hand, she pulled Marina close again, offering her her shoulder to rest her head on, hoping that the smell of her latest tobacco, mixed with some cedar shavings and lemongrass, would overpower any fouler odors, of wet clay or worse--Jade was always self-conscious. But in the back of her mind, as she was trying to reassure the woman, she couldn't help tugging at strands and unraveling her efforts. Marina and Agni had been entered disguised as vampires. Same as Lavinia. Then... wasn't Agni lucky Snake hadn't taken his head? Wasn't Marina lucky she'd backed out early? ...Neither Agni nor Marina fought like Lavinia. Like an undead. Was it obvious? How many people realized they were a sham? When Agni suggested they reunite with all possible speed, Jade couldn't help but agree that was the right call. "Of course. Let's on our way then." The merchant kept quiet about her concerns, saving those for a talk with Lavinia, in private. Was it still safe to stay in town, if their cover may have been compromised, and for this, a little light fun?
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