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About Balcerzak

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  • Birthday 04/23/1983

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    Eden Prairie

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    Blazing Sword

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  1. After Jade and Lavinia had spent some quality time together, they'd gone to the arena, done some shopping, and the zombie had brought the caparisons she'd purchased to the stables. She didn't plan to put them on the 'mares until travel time, so those two had been stowed in her cart until departure. However, there was another! Now Jade hadn't known one way or the other what sort of arrangements Lucille might have made for the trek, but on the off-chance her pegasus would need one, she'd bought an extra mount covering. While at the stables, she'd then hung it over the door to her stall, with the following note pinned to it: Perhaps this is a redundant gesture, but I was unaware of the status of your financials, nor of any previous preparations you might have made. Not wishing Villkiss to suffer regardless, through no fault of her own, I took the liberty of purchasing something to help protect from the wastes. Do with it as you will. Jade Persyn It was written in her standard hand, sporting compact, precise lettering, save for the somewhat extravagant signature. Unlike the previous occasion with Marina, there had been no need for a postscript on this one; the message was quite simple, with no afterthoughts forthcoming. After that, all business having been properly concluded, it had been tempting to steal away back to the inn, but the day was drawing to a close, and departure was soon, so Jade and Lavinia wheeled out toward Border's exit, aligning her cart with two others now. It would be interesting, and a change for the better to be perfectly honest, not having to be responsible for everyone. And especially across the wastes, the merchant was looking forward to the change. Jade found the king's instructions difficult to pay attention to, with her girlfriend a distracting influence nearby, but for the most part it was just common sense stuff, and anything truly important would come up again when necessary, surely? "Romantic getaway the wastes are not," she laughed. "Otherwise we'd have to fight off swarms of honeymooners, wouldn't we? But..." Jade thoughtfully drew out a concession, "I suppose most any sort of place does take on a certain charm, when you're with your special someone. And while we won't be alone together, hmmm, I wonder which passenger's we'll actually get?" The merchant had yet to notice that one had already taken up residence, but she'd find out soon enough.
  2. Wanting for a free hand, Jade lifted the reins to her teeth for a moment, so she could press a finger against Lavinia's lips in the wake of her apology. While stopping her words with a kiss may have been another option, they were still a little too public for her preferences, and once they started down the path there would be no coming back. Then, message conveyed, she returned the reins to her hand and began to park the wagon by the selected inn. "Did I say it was bad? It may have struck me by surprise, but... I certainly didn't dislike it. There is a certain thrill to hearing you talk dirty. I may have to request it again, sometime..." The second thing the vampire said gave Jade more pause for thought. Reciprocating the squeeze, she reluctantly separated, then stepped down from the driver's box and walked around to help Lavinia down. Treating her like a lady should be treated. A step in the direction of the request, perhaps? When she'd been young, Jade's fantasies had tended to trend perhaps more typical, a receiver of affections. But the zombie couldn't deny there was a certain charm to being the one driving the bargain, leading the negotiations, and perhaps that could apply here as well? "We should have enough time for turns, I would think," Jade mused as she helped Lavinia to the ground. "But for the first go... I think I will volunteer for lead, so long as you promise to correct me anytime I, uh, go astray. My experience in these matters is..." Lacking, a word that went unsaid as a small wave of embarrassment took her voice for a moment.
  3. Lavinia's response laid bare her intentions, making it clearly obvious that wasn't the only thing she intended to lay bare. A bit embarrassed, Jade managed to begin slip in a small, soft response about the kiss on the neck. "It just happened to be the right height..." But she quickly trailed off and gave ground, falling quiet as the vampire continued onward from there, her flirty language from earlier falling to the wayside as she transitioned to more blunt, vulgar statement of fact. To have provoked such a response... A bit shyly, the zombie found it difficult to face Lavinia directly. "That's, uh, hoo, haha... mmm... quite the enthusiastic, ahhh..." While Jade might have initially been picturing a more leisurely romantic build up, the prospect of plunging into the tempest directly carried its own sort of fascination with it. Her mind raced, and she wasn't sure the words she wanted to use, so rather than reply that way, she answered by taking the reins with her free hand, and directing the mares to motion, to the east side of town, and the pair of inns to be found there. Some moments later, she'd composed herself enough to speak again. "How could I say no? In response to passion like that... Even falsely supposing I didn't crave the same?" A few brief sentences, before slipping back toward silence, paying just enough attention to the road and traffic to choose the inn of the two that appeared quite clearly to provide a bit more in the way of privacy. Guests did seem to be attracted one after the other to its fellow instead, which honestly made the choice easy.
  4. With the strength of Lavinia's pull, and how Jade's own mood was trending, the perfect play would have been to roll into it, be pulled across the vampire's lap and straddle her face to face. And in fact, if they'd been seated on a park bench, or the edge of a bed, or anything similar, she would have gone for it too, but the backing to the carriage compartment of the wagon thoroughly prevented any such undertaking from being remotely comfortable, if at all possible. Instead, she settled for worming her own arm behind Lavinia's back, bringing her hand to rest on the far side of her waist and squeezing in time with the pressure applied to her from the arm wrapped around her shoulder. When the hug eased off, Jade twisted her torso, and stretching up just enough to make it work, lightly kissed the side of the vampire's neck before settling back down and resting against her shoulder. "Mmm," she intoned, the murmur carrying a trace of disappointment. The knight was right, of course, and she couldn't very well argue, but... "A real holiday, that would be perfect, yes..." "So long as we don't end up some 'for want of a nail' story. I already..." Regret, no, that's too charged a term perhaps. "Mm, let's just say, lately I've been finding it harder to keep from getting lost wandering along corridors of what ifs." What if I hadn't been a coward that night... "There always seems to be other business in the way, though." Speaking of other business, the vendor... No, she was in no hurry. Until Lavinia pulled away, they were just gonna stay here like this. Yes, it stood between them and the now agreed upon date at the arena, but...
  5. When Lavinia leaned up against her, the small gesture of intimacy, and request for more, caused a sudden slight catch of guilt to strike the zombie. Jade had pumped the brakes a little, after all, but perhaps today would be a good time to lean back into things, probe her level of comfort again and see how things go? After all, small though it were, Border was an actual town, with real lodgings, and not just caravan camping and keeping their own watch. The small kernel of an idea was planted. Jade leaned back against Lavinia, reciprocating the vampire's touch, and answered truthfully, "It has been a while, hasn't it? Well then, how about I be yours for the day, hmm? I'd been thinking about maybe visiting the arena after we wrap up our business here," There were fond memories of their last trip to the arena after all. Not only because of the results, but also there had been Asami's meddling afterwards, and well... despite the discomfort it had initially caused Lavinia, the end results... "If you had a different plan though, by all means?" The merchant's invitation for a counter-proposal trailed off with an upward tone. They'd just reached the vendor by this point, but she decided to just stay relaxed here for the moment, awaiting an answer rather than rushing in to sort out any business.
  6. Well, here they were, the last civilized stop before the wastelands. It had been years since Jade had last traversed them, but she didn't expect they'd have changed much in the intervening period. Especially not when considering they'd persisted in their current state for some dozens, hundreds?, of years by now already. Many of the others had already begun dispersing, focusing on whatever tasks they had in mind. That was fine, as a zombie she had become accustomed to losing out in physical initiative. Lavinia, however, was still nearby, perhaps waiting on her before making a move, so she aired her thoughts. "I'd been thinking of picking up some caparisons for the mounts. Since the wastes aren't your typical scorching heat, swirling sand desert, the extra layer shouldn't be much of a detriment. Most importantly, they'll help to cut the reflection of the sun off the pure white of the ground. If we only had to worry about the rays beating down from above, that would be one thing, but as it is, I feel more comfortable getting them proper coverage instead of just relying on parasols or the like. I imagine something like that to be available at the Vendor, and if not, at least some raw fabric that could be purchased to produce them should be. Care to join me, or did you have anything else on your mind?" The merchant figured that once business had been wrapped up, it would be easy enough to change focus to pleasure in the time remaining before they left. Not that there was a ton of options for that either, here in Border, but... Jade rescues Lavinia, moves to 4,8
  7. The zombie grinned as the human magician answered back in a way that was obvious he was taking her ribbing in good graces, but something he said at the end there caused her smile to dry up and vanish. She wasn't about to interrupt him over it, it could wait until they'd sorted things out with the goat woman, but as that seemed to be just about wrapped up, she doubled back. "Your people bled and died for Vaia. Nobody could have asked you for more," Jade's voice went soft and serious, a hint of something stiff and stern beneath the surface. "And I'm only speaking while knowing of the two we lost to poor positioning at the end there. I know not how many more lives you sold to buy the time for us to arrive." It may have been dodging the issue then, or maybe just stalling for time, but it was aptly pointed out that Lucille had quite fallen asleep, in the short time Jade had taken her attention full away from the girl. Turning and confirming, as she laid eyes on that rather sweet sight, her features softened back up. "Well, well... quicker than I expected, but yes. Let's get this one taken care of, shall we? You're willing to help me set it up, I assume?" The merchant certainly did have some tents, whether they were 'spare' or not was now irrelevant, as one had just been reassigned.
  8. I'd actually started chipping back away at this game starting around August, but with my schedule it's been pretty slow going. Since I don't actually own V yet, let alone a console that supports it, I may continue to focus on this until I can get that situation sorted out. I'm a fair bit further than tonight's update suggests, but collating and posting chapters hasn't been super exciting to look forward to compared to trying to puzzle out the next chapter's solutions, generally speaking. But I gotta take pride in my work and get it out there sooner or later, so here's starting on that. Might be a slow drip feed of content though. One interesting thing to note was that Kamille actually came with two ReGz, which was not anticipated by the drafting pool. I guess if you fail the Dijeh secret that's just how it is? I'm going to be using both of them, since I did draft one ReGz and the Dijeh was given to us as a free unit, due to numbers and nobody picking it. I'm honestly cool with letting everyone else use one of the ReGz but not both, and have the ReGz I drafted be the Dijeh's equivalent (that is, the one Kamille shows up in), rather than the one that you would be getting for free either way (the one that comes empty). That seems a lot more equitable than claiming I get two units for the price of one draft, and also far superior to just saying nobody can use it because the actual details of the game's unit list weren't fully understood when setting up the draft. Anyway, that digression out of the way, let's start to get right on into it. Chapter 15, Bonds Placed on Both Wings, in 4 turns: Chapter "16"E, Bright you now, in 4 turns: Chapter "17"E, The Terror of Space Monster Gilgilgan, in 1+6 turns: Total Turns: 77
  9. Jade spared another look to Lucille, but despite any concerns about how the rider was slumped against her pegasus, it didn't seem quite so bad that the woman was about to fall asleep or fall off. Not yet at any rate, and with the way the conversation was progressing in a rather interesting direction, short of anything dire that was where her attention preferred to stay. "Your negotiating skills sound like they need a little work, not quite up to the standards your brother set," she chided Seilan gently, before giggling so that it was clear nothing serious was meant by it. "You should have gotten something in writing, if not from the General then from someone at the fort. But it's never too late..." Being from Hwein herself originally, she had her own interests in not having to hear about the place suffering under the iron heel of Coteon. The new arrival's own surprise at the precise gravity of the situation she found herself embroiled in was like icing on a schaudenfreuden cake though, and the zombie indulged in some private feelings of smugness. "Yes, the Demon King, who looks to have just finished speaking with the Head of her Royal Knights, and..." a sweep of her gaze trying to locate, aha, spotted, "Over there, the General of her Armies. Which is it you would be preferring an audience with?" It wouldn't have been too hard to keep her smile quite neutral, merchant's training and all, but Jade decided turn about was fair play and she could let herself slip a little, just a touch, for now. "Ah, but maybe someone not quite that high up would be more to your speed? Hmm, do you think the Captain from Tepel would be a better choice?" Turning to Seilan for input, the zombie asked. "You've had a closer working relationship with her than I, what do you say?"
  10. The goat woman's explanation was mostly reasonable. Certainly warded off any overt anger on Jade's part, leaving just minor rumpled feelings and a slightly guarded attitude. The merchant could well imagine seeing herself in Verah's shoes, had she such easy access to those sorts of abilities. "That does sound a rather awful position to find oneself in," the zombie agreed, as the newcomer elaborated, her smooth and wandering style of speech doing its part to ease concerns as well. A technique Jade also employed as part of business, but that was part of its charm, it had an effect even if one were rather used to it. Lucille seemed to be warming over as well, but perhaps that was just the fatigue talking, as the rider swiftly deferred question-answering to the others. "Well, I know that Hwein has been having problems of its own, so perhaps that is the next step? Though there are some other foreign threats as well," the oni's story came to mind here, and surely it wasn't the only other danger than the Church. Turning to Seilan for the man's own input on circumstances, she asked directly. "What sort of arrangements did you manage to secure in exchange for your assistance, I have been somewhat removed from a lot of the decision making processes of the higher-ups... though perhaps I should speak with Lavinia about changing that, becoming more involved on that front personally..." Jade pursed her lips and mused about possibilities. There were a lot of thoughts about the future and going forward, and just where her place fit in the scheme of things.
  11. When Seilan confirmed her strong suspicions, but more importantly told her his brother was indeed alive and well, a peaceful and relaxed smile slipped across the zombie's face. While Jade had had no real reason to suspect otherwise, it was always good to know for certain. And that he'd be taking over the shop, settling down and not having to be on the road as much, well, that was as close to most merchant's dreams as any. Sure, the travel could be exciting, but it was much less reliable. And certainly more dangerous. Her thoughts wandered temporarily to wondering when she would be able to settle down and build a brick and mortar establishment, before she recalled that the mage's question, honest confusion evident in his voice, still needed answering. "Oh, we met on several occasions when I was still alive. It would probably be a bit of a stretch for me to call him my rival?" Jade paused and tilted her head, trying to figure out if that were actually true or not. Maybe she had thought of him that way without fully realizing it? "Anyway, I obviously haven't really been in position to visit Hwein recently, so..." She shrugged, trailing off and leaving it at that for the moment. Her lull was quickly filled by an unexpected party, who somehow knew her name? Slowly, Jade swivelled to face the newcomer. Blinking slowly, she asked the horned woman in the white dress, "Where did you come from, again, Verah...?" Lucille hadn't been bothered by her lecture, rather seeming eager enough to leave that conversation behind and taking this opportunity to go ahead and follow the suggestion for introductions. Probably for the best, there, truth be told? And maybe the zombie would have been more accepting of things herself, if she hadn't been the one singled out to be used as a form of unearned familiarity. It was hard to say, but for the moment she was on her guard.
  12. Ah, when Lucille suggested that perhaps it had been because she and Seilan were humans that they hadn't known, that was probably the time to step in and gently correct. Grunting a bit as she pushed herself off the ground, Jade took the few shambling steps needed to come out from around the back of the tree where she'd been sitting. "That's not... entirely accurate. One of the other humans was the first to know, if I remember right," the zombie explained. "I don't remember the General's reaction, but I do recall it having been quite the shock to the head of the Royal Guard when she found out. Ah... and this is obviously excepting Erephis, of course. Ithraxl's sister was the reason the rest of us found out Taliyah was her niece. I'm not sure what prompted her to have told Agni first, or if she'd have brought it up to the rest of us on her own, given enough time, but... I don't think it was really meant to be a secret. Not entirely? Just... an uncomfortable and unfortunate truth." Her face slipping into a bit of a bitter frown, she continued. "That's... civil wars for you. Ugly. Divisive. Tragic. Personal. Thankfully this one was stopped while it was still somewhat a minor insurrection; put down before it embroiled the whole nation. But that doesn't ease the pain for those affected." A flash of realization crossed Jade's face, and she faced Lucille directly, apologizing. "...That's actually terribly unkind of me, isn't it? Lecturing you in this way after you were just forced to fight against your old unit? I wish I could have been of more help, but it was quite a chaotic time." A moment's silent pause, then she turned her gaze to the other, and tried steering the conversation to a hopefully less dreadful path. "On the subject of family not being kept secret for any particular reason, though..." Jade's eyes narrowed slightly as she took in one last good look, confirming enough of her suspicions. Even having never met Seilan personally before arriving at Tepel, family resemblance, and stories from the elder about his 'baby brother' went far enough. "How is Dorren doing these days?"
  13. Lavinia had had the right idea, and luckily it seemed Jade's good first impression with Villkiss still carried some weight. Lucille hadn't put up much fight either, dozing in and out as it were, and aside from a few soft words of explanation the zombie hadn't tried to press her with questions or conversation, taking them outside the fort, and setting up "camp" as it were near a few trees. It didn't quite feel right to leave the girl completely unattended, what should happen if she fell and needed help or something, so Jade sat down at the base of one of the trees just on the other side from where the pegasus was standing. Given her speed she wouldn't be close enough to actually stop a fall, but she could react after the fact at least and there was something to be said for allowing some personal space as well. Before long, the rest of the troops had gathered, the Demon King saying a few words, then passing the torch to the Hero for a few more. For the most part, the speech was generally comforting, but Jade would be lying to herself if she didn't acknowledge some discomfort and apprehension about the notion of a return to Hwein. Her situation there was... complicated. The zombie found herself idly toying with the end of the rope laying in her lap, though the more than enough slack she'd left on the line meant there was no effect on the steed it was connected to. She absently watched many of the others split off into small groups, but remained unaware of Lucille's near slip from her saddle. Honestly, it wasn't until Seilan approached and began speaking to the former church soldier that Jade pulled herself back out of introspection and began to listen. She had some unresolved questions about that boy. There had never seemed to be a right time to ask, especially when weighed against the then-upcoming fight against Ithraxl and how there would really be no importance one way or the other what the facts actually were. But, with the insurrection now firmly in the past, and the path their future seemed to be leading... Mmmm, she should just listen for now, interrupting so soon would be rude. But perhaps after the two had wrapped up their pleasantries she would step out and stop him before he left.
  14. "That was a warning shot," Jade lied to the priest before continuing with an ultimatum for him and his friend. "Drop you staves and weapons and line up against the wall if you want to live." With their general dead--dying?--it seemed the smart bet to take for any remaining enemy forces, but it couldn't hurt for her to verbalize the demand for their surrender. Speaking of dead and dying, thankfully the zombie was far enough away from the wounded (on both sides) that so long as she wasn't looking at them, it wasn't a difficult matter to keep an unpleasant... urges under wraps. Putting a little more purposeful distance between herself and them, and... ah, here came the rest of the side-door squad. The sight of Lavinia, Lucille, and Gabriela's arrive, after everything had wrapped up, not even in time to see the climax--much less contribute to it--asking 'what happened?' It really sparked the sudden wonder in the zombie of whether anything they had done on their little trek had even mattered for the assault. But those were certainly not the sort of thoughts one could speak out loud. "Well, I'm not exactly sure quite how to describe it," Jade struggled to explain the events that had occurred to her new-come friends. "Most of the action was around the corner, out of sight, I didn't even properly engage with him myself, was focused on corralling his support troops and keeping them from causing trouble. But at one point Ithraxl transformed into a dark blue dragon," her pitch turned upwards here, questioningly. "It was rather massive given the available space here. As his life began failing him, it seems that power has come undone..." As for the pegasus rider and her question, Jade merely gave a thin, tight-lipped smile and nod in response, then changed the subject. "How is Vilkiss?" The woman herself seemed not to have been physically hurt, just some exhaustion from spellcasting at worst, but there had been something of an episode, she remembered, though she'd been too far to see quite what had gone on. Her best guess was something had spooked her steed and it had taken a bit to regain control. It wasn't until after Jade had spoken that she realized she might be coming off the wrong way, caring more for the pegasus than the human.
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