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About Balcerzak

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    Blazing Sword

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  1. Well, the summoned fiends were incredibly sturdy, and only the one that concentrated magic had been blasted at was actually felled, though the killing stroke was from her sword. That fact made Jade slightly giddy, after the frustration of a possible long battle of attrition was erased by the conjurer abruptly dispelling them, revealing it had all been some elaborate trust testing. The hero, on the other hand, had not gotten any sort of elation upon the big ruse reveal. On the contrary, she tossed the holy sword to the ground, and screamed in frustration. While not exactly the sort of situation the merchant really wanted to involve herself in--hysterics in general that is, nothing specifically against the hero herself--there was enough curiosity to edge herself closer that way, applying pressure with her knees and guiding the nightmare that direction while keeping enough distance from other members of the party to avoid trampling them by accident, or kicking over tents, or anything else destructive. In fact, Jade figured, atop of Burnt Umber here, she was probably the only one currently in the same weight class as that snake, this Erephis. Height class too, assuming the lamia drew herself up a little, converting some of her raw length. That made her feel a little more secure, gave an added reason to lazy a little, instead of dismounting and leading her along instead. By the time she'd slowly made her way over, the other human had scooped up the fallen sword, depositing it into the sheath he'd been given from Marina, then promptly tucked away into his belt. So much for a closer look at the blade, or anything else. Unless... No, she needed to get back to the wagon soon anyway, Xalrei would undoubtedly be headed there again and they would conclude negotiations. But, hmm. There was no reason Agni couldn't accompany her. She'd just have to provide a fitting excuse. Settling upon one, Jade nodded to herself, then finally got around to dismounting--less awkward to approach that way, and the lamia was now behind her, and had remained in her more timid form for long enough the merchant was starting to feel... if not comfortable with her, accepting at least. "Ah, Agnis, was it?" The zombie hailed him gently but directly as she walked closer, leading the 'mare behind her. "You look well-born, probably familiar with horses, yes? While my nightmares are certainly a breed apart, there are enough similarities it ought to be possible to transfer some of that knowledge I should think. I still need to groom and feed them, after our long day on the road, and now this... And well, there's two of them, and only one of me, so I thought it might go faster if, assuming you wouldn't mind terribly helping out, you might consider accompanying me back to the wagon, where I've left DV on guard, and lending a hand? I would appreciate it greatly."
  2. No point getting on her wagon, but Jade very much still preferred something rather than just wading in by herself. Not if she could avoid that. Raising up a whistle, she roused the Nightmares, which clomped over to her. Gently patting them each, she smiled. "Don't need you both tonight. Deep Vermillion, you can guard the wagon, case someone tries for it while we're distracted," she made a slight clicking sound with her tongue against the back of her teeth, and pointed where she wanted her to go. "Burnt Umber, if you don't mind then?" Reaching up, Jade grabbed a bit of mane just in front of the withers, then hopped up, letting the momentum of the jump do most of the work in carrying her leg over. Once astride the mighty animal, she pulled out her pistol, leaned forward, and gave an encouraging pat, as she directed the nightmare to take her within range of the enemy. Jade moves to 6,8 and guns Wight 1
  3. 'Literally'? Kirara please! No, that can't have been what she meant by it, so thank Jove the discussion wouldn't veer that direction. Linus shook his head, clearing the thoughts from his mind. Even if there was nothing really worth discussing, it would have been embarrassing enough-- And there went Hitomi, low-key suggesting maybe he had a whole harem he was juggling in his offtime. "Look, I'll have you know I suspended my CupidPlus months ago. Too much hassle, too little return, too much wasted time. While it's not inconceivable some past strike-out is the target, it just... how would that make sense with 'one link remaining'? It's gotta be someone you know too, Hitomi. Though I guess, Kirara, if you guys really need to check out my dating history, I'm not gonna stonewall you over it. A little privacy would be nice, though." One other comment Hitomi made, did make Linus feel better, at least. 'Our Karina'. Maybe she wasn't entirely on the same wavelength he was, regarding this new woman with the same name, but it did feel good to hear it said like that. Somehow, reassuring. They weren't replacing her. Speaking of the tryouts, some were getting antsy. Understandable, being in limbo like this sucked, not knowing your fate. If he were solely in charge, and had to make the snap decisions now, Linus had a pretty good idea of where things'd come down, but he couldn't just put the issue to rest without Hitomi's input. And the outside interference meant not everything was exactly fair. There still would've been chances for the well-performing to make some gaffes, or for those that struggled early to redeem themselves. But, it sounded like a redo wouldn't be safe either, and heck, Kirara even sounded worried about this debriefing itself. Yikes! Maybe it would just be best to accept everyone who cared enough to be here, and secondstring the ones that couldn't hack it? Linus shot Hitomi a look, and even though it would be almost impossible to convey his thoughts without words, he tried. In the meantime, might as well follow-up on the other issue. "I'm sure Carmen wouldn't mind answering questions, but my guess is she's as in the dark about this as we are." Linus wasn't quite ready to give up that he had been planning to meet her soon as things settled down--though with Kirara's warning that it might not be safe, that the AI could be waiting to just follow him to her... that definitely started him reevaluating the situation. Still, if things went through as originally planned, he didn't want that promise being turned into an ambush with high officials hounding her mercilessly. "Where would you even start, what would you even ask her? If you could somehow do it without endangering her."
  4. Yeah, maybe she hadn't handled that entirely the right way, she'd caused more annoyance than she'd intended--easily seen in the dragonewt's expression and heard in her voice--but... well, Jade had let herself get a bit carried away. It was unlikely to cause permanent friction, and they were still both going to get what they wanted out of this, right? She was wondering whether or not to apologize, when the larger, rougher hand closed around her own, driving those thoughts easily from mind. Xalrei's claw felt surprisingly warm. Part of that was, to be sure, Jade's own body heat being nothing more than the ambient temperature, but since she rarely got much in the way of physical contact (when she was of mind to appreciate it anyway) it was easy to forget this. Her heart gave a rare beat, then settled back down to near slumber. Will it do the thing? What will it be like, Jade tried to distract herself with speculation, but she barely began to wonder when a deep and rumbly... demand, made itself known. It was hard to really call it a voice, in some ways, but maybe that was just the oddity of there being no directional reference for where the sound was coming from? Because it absolutely was a voice. And it craved power. Jade's heart thumped several more times, and a flush of excitement rose to her cheeks. There was regret that she couldn't seem to awaken it on her own, and disappointment she'd ultimately lose possession of it, but there was also a wholly unfounded sense of pride in owning such a fantastic weapon in the first place. Part of her foolishly wanted to grab the blade with her other hand and slide along it, slicing herself open to feed it, to see what could further be drawn out. Even dead though she was, though, that would carry remarkable risk, and it was for the best when Requiem changed form to a spear, and removed that possibility altogether. "Enemies?" Jade echoed this latest news to broadcast itself into her brain. Was the dragonewt getting this too? She craned her neck to look up and back, trying to figure out without moving awkwardly or causing any discomfort to either of them. She'd have to let go of the weapon for Xalrei to fight with it, but at the moment that was impossible to do, even if she wanted to. The other woman's grip circled solidly around her own. A scream from elsewhere in the camp reinforced the sense of danger. Was that Lavinia? A hiss of indrawn breath. "Damnation," Jade cursed. "Sorry, this is no time to continue fooling around, but thank you for humoring me thus far. We'll finish our discussions after, yes?"
  5. Oh, Jade had surprised the visitor. Curious. Rocking forward on the balls of her feet a little, leaning in and looking up at the taller woman, a slight wisp of smile on her face, she blinked a few times while taking in the other's expression, as the dragonewt recovered and began to explain herself. "Umu," she grunted at last, satisfied enough, then nodded. "Wait here a moment," the zombie instructed, before turning to the wagon--its 'mares unhitched and fed already, now both laying down about a stone's throw away, enjoying a small rest, though they were by no means exhausted--climbing up and making her way to the driver's seat. After Lavinia had told her more about the weapon, she'd changed where she'd been storing it. No longer was it in the back with all the other goods, she'd relocated it to a lockbox she kept in the space under the seat, opened with a key she wore around her neck. It was for things of a more valuable or sentimental nature than her typical cargo, and this Requiem now certainly qualified for a spot within. Weapon retrieved, she drew it from its sheath, holding it rather awkwardly, untrained and unused to its weight, while she stared at it. Thought at it. But it showed no signs of moving, of morphing, of... whatever it was it had done--what she'd seen it do--in Lavinia's or the thief's hands. Upset enough to remember to breathe so she could sigh in disappointment, Jade hopped somewhat carelessly down from her perch and, returning to her visitor, gave the dragonewt another, more appraising, look than before. What was she even hoping to see? She felt she'd know it when she saw it, though. "Can you use a sword..." Jade started, a smirk on her face as she knew the question was pointless. While the woman probably could, it was clearly not her weapon of choice. But for Requiem in particular, it seemed like that wouldn't matter. Still, she got a little pleasure from the asking, of marking the first impressions of a response, though she did not intend to give enough time for a full interruption. "No... that's the wrong question. Can you use this sword," the zombie quickly revised her query. "Will you? You know it comes with risk?" Jade turned around, then, facing her back to her visitor, and holding the sword out in front of her, pointed away from the both of them. "I can't seem to make it work, and now I'm burning to know. How? Why? What does it feel like? Take my hand in yours, if you want it. Make it change. Let me taste it. Then, I would have no objection to your using it, at least until the King claims it once again for their own."
  6. The Hero's clothing damage hadn't gone unnoticed. While Jade would have been hard-pressed to pin down exactly when her entire sleeve had gone missing, she was pretty sure it had been there at the start of the conflict. She'd seen it at one point, she had no doubt. But now it was gone, and she couldn't not notice. Not with the way the bare flesh stood out in contrast with its surroundings. In fact, it almost looked as if someone had started to peel the skin from a delicious fruit before stopping halfw-- Jade shook her head and banished such thoughts, rising as they did unbidden, unwelcome. Returning to the train of thought that had been frightfully derailed, she found herself heavily doubting that whatever edge had been left of the sleeve had gotten the sort of stitching needed to prevent further fraying and destruction. And the Hero seemed to be content to leave things as such, going for a small roam about site where they had pulled in to camp for the night, for those who needed such a thing. The merchant watched her set up her tent, exchange brief 'hellos' with a few members of her party, shiver in the wind... it seemed that she was either too clueless to realize there was more to be done, or too proud to ask for help. ...Not that Jade actually had a stock of spare garments to sell her. The raw flax she was carrying certainly wasn't going to help, nor even would the small amount of processed but undyed linen. But the zombie would have welcomed the chance to explain that, when asked, and might have been looking forward to whatever other conversation would have grown from it. She supposed it possible that during the course of the day's travel, while she was up front driving, the Hero could have poked around her goods some, realized the futility already, and decided not to bother. But somehow that still left Jade feeling peevish, slighted even. However, before she finished considering--and rejecting--tempering a bit of generosity with some mean-spirited usury, the Hero had approached and engaged the, general was it, in what looked like it would end up being extended conversation. That certainly ruled out any negotiations on her part, or the ability to rightly enforce any sort of one-sided "rental agreement", which honestly had been a rather half-baked idea to begin with, given how quickly they could get an actual replacement for her. So the nascent thought ended up morphing into pretty much just genuine charity this time, which surprisingly didn't feel too bad on its own. Deftly retrieving a quill and ink, she quickly began to write: her letters small but purposeful, neat and tidy little soldiers that marched across the page. Save, that is, for the signature at the end. That was afforded more pomp and flourish, as any good signature should sport. I am a little too tall, comparatively, for this likely to be entirely comfortable on you, but perhaps it will be better than the nothing else... which the fact that you're still wearing your currently rent garment leads me to believe sums up the totality of your alternatives. I shall expect it returned promptly upon your purchase of any replacement outfit of your choice, taking place at the earliest available opportunity, but until then I hope that it may serve you at least somewhat better than you are found at present. Jade Persyn A few moments thought, and it became necessary for a postscript, whose P and S were in the similarly flourished hand of the letters of her name, before the rest of the words once again returned to the more business-like dress code of the original message. PS I do have some experience with needle and thread. While certainly no tailor, and lacking the materials on hand to properly mend it, if you should be so interested in keeping your item from sliding into further disrepair until it can be looked at by a master of the craft, I would certainly be willing to do whatsoever possible while the lot of you sleep. The choice is yours. Missive finished, Jade withdrew her other outfit from its place in the wagon--fancier than her road clothes, and pinned the note to it. Then she made her way to the tent the Hero had claimed for her own, popped inside briefly and deposited the temporary loan with its explanation. It was a good thing she hadn't decided to butt into the Hero's conversation directly, it soon turned out, with voices being raised and a bit of a commotion breaking out. Turning a head over her shoulder to take in a bit of the scene as she walked back to her wagon--no particular goal in mind, but it was more or less her home, and she could find something to do--a bit of a morbidly amused expression crept its way across Jade's face. Oh. Yeah, that was... well, good luck? Disinterested in the actual outcome, after all, she turned to face forward again, and found herself surprised to have a visitor. A customer? Hard to say, but probably unlikely. A far cry from the lizard that had tried to rob her earlier, this scaled one could rightly take the name of 'dragon'... in maybe another handful of decades. "Can I help you," Jade queried. Best to just start with the basics.
  7. It was sobering, seeing Reinstall carted away on a high-tech gurney. For all Linus's bluster about leaving the man to his fate and getting his friend out safely, seeing the actual impacts his decisions ended up having wasn't comforting in the slightest. Kirara's attitude, slightly short tempered and with good reason, was an unwelcome weight of judgement on top of that. He couldn't even really feel good about Hitomi's hug, but... at least she was safe, right? Thankfully further interrogation was postponed until the whole group had reassembled at the cafe, the interlude giving Linus enough time to start to get his bearings back, plant his emotional feet on firmer ground. Carmen's reply message helped on that front considerably, though she certainly was more than a little within rights to turn his concern for her back upon him. It was looking like anyone with any connections was already getting at least a trickle of info on the incident, so there wasn't any chance of pulling the wool over her as far details went. She was hoping to meet up and talk, which Linus was all down for, but that would have to wait until he and Hitomi were freed up, and it was hard to guess when that might be. He'd told her he'd keep her posted. Which left just, the current mess. Hitomi's father had taken charge, and Kirara provided a glimpse into some of the details that Team Odyssey had been ignorant on, though the flip side of that was she was in the dark on some of what only they had been made privy to as well. Worry and indecision had Linus froze for a bit, would revealing his suspicions hurt or help, was he even anywhere close to on base, what if, or maybe, but... He remained silent while the others filled in what they could, but none of them, not even Hitomi, had heard what he'd heard. Well, except Reinstall, and that had worked out so well for him. The catgirl's curiosity about this 'Elle Gigantess' figure thankfully bought some time, as the conversation turned to the latest puzzle, but it wouldn't stay there for long he was sure. And of course, nobody else owned up to being the reason behind the attack because--ding ding--they weren't. And then yes, the matter of 'who passed' was floated, clearly a concern for the people in question, honestly even something Linus himself should be concerned over. But he honestly couldn't even really register it right now. Hitomi did a decent minor deflection, but it wouldn't hold for long. He had to hope that airing this, maybe getting some answers back, would help somehow. Kirara's patience was clearly being tested. "I don't think we'll necessarily have to wait for Reinstall, though his perspective would certainly be an interesting one," Linus reluctantly got his start by answering one of the floated ideas flying about. "I don't remember the exact wording, which is a shame, it might've been helpful to have a recording to go over for better clues, but... its messages were vague at first, only really noting looking for something or someone, like Hitomi said, then working on finding a location. After most everyone had logged out, it was... a little more explicit." Linus frowned. He didn't like this, not one bit. "Sorry for not speaking up right away, it's just... been a bit hard to believe. Right after Hitomi punched out--when it was just me, Reinstall, and the rogue--it said 'Only one link remaining.' Then some threatening banter, as it was working on taking over our suits' controls--ultimately shutting up the other guy pretty harsh. Right before I cut free of the game though, it specifically addressed me by name. 'You're not who I'm seeking, Caruso, but she is connected to you.' Something like that." Let's, let Kirara and Matsuo draw their own conclusions on that for now. If they matched and reinforced his own, without his input... that would be telling.
  8. The succubus confirmed the hero's story, and got in some good teasing as well. What a strangely relaxed attitude for someone presumably handpicked for this mission by the demon king. At least the vampire seemed to be angled more on a 'down to business' bent, probably was the ranking member. Which was probably good thing for Jade, as it seemed they might be building a good connection already, if things continued along. The other human, the non-Hero, butted in with a request for healing, which wasn't in her wheelhouse, but didn't stop the merchant from sizing him up a little. The man seemed dressed to impress, and had a bit of a feel of being the type that expected things to get done when he wanted them to be. Probably nobleborn? Interesting, tuck that away. People began the process of embarking onto her wagon then, and Jade followed them as they did, making sure nobody disturbed the Nightmares, or made a mess of anything. When the fallen angel jumped up to the roof of the wagon, it gave her a bit of a surprise, though it perhaps shouldn't have. Wings and all. Narrowing her eyes a bit, she looked a little put off, but not enough to actually raise a fuss. "Well, so long as you don't kick me in the back of the head or anything, I suppose that's fine," came out in something louder than a mutter, yet softer than a grumble. The Hero's thanks was a bit odd, and premature perhaps. This wasn't exactly just goodness of the heart at play. Even if it weren't for possible profit motive, and simply just paying back the favor of helping hold off the ruffians, that wouldn't really be something to get thanked over. What a curious girl. "Yes, Jade." Like the pretty stone, something kept her from adding. It was... odd, really. She'd used to have no problem with it, but these days... In the end, nobody seemed to need any help climbing aboard, and her 'mare were undisturbed, so it was time to get a roll on. The other one with wings took after the fallen's cue, which she wasn't super happy about either, but maybe it was just baseless prejudice? Being ground bound herself, it was a little built in to expect it, and offputting when that expectation was rattled. She'd already said her piece on the matter, so it didn't bear repeating, and she climbed back up to the driver's seat and settled herself in. Another puff or two, and then she emptied her pipe, and slid it safely away in a case in her pouch. Time to learn a bit about that sword, as they moseyed along then. She looked forward to this conversation, at least, whatever else may come.
  9. The fallen angel had circled round, keeping wide berth of her 'mares, Jade noted with some amusement, before introducing himself. He plainly stated that he wasn't one of the movers or shakers of this odd assortment of characters, so she couldn't really give him too much attention, if the others answered quickly, which was rather likely. But she also couldn't exactly ignore him either. "Well, 'recruited' is a little... premature, perhaps, but it's not unlikely," she smiled as she dodged a firm answer, which would only weaken her bargaining position. When the succubus came by and addressed her by name, she nodded, and gave a little flourish with one hand, indicating that, yes, this was her, which answered both the monster's explicit question, as well as the man's implied one. "Correct, and correct," Jade added in verbally, as she looked from one to the other, also hitting upon the sword ownership issue. "And well, swords aren't exactly my weapon of choice, but it was an interesting specimen, so..." The vampire, currently holding it, looked a little... displeased? But she held her tongue for the moment, leaving Jade's curiosity to fester until it eventually got addressed. Though, the words that came from company's leader were certainly intriguing enough to bury the matter of the sword for the moment, to the very back of her mind. The Hero? Jade's eyebrows raised, and her pupils widened. Ordinarily they were small enough to be easily missed in the muddy brown of her irises, which was oddly disconcerting for some people, but when something truly took her interest and required a better look, they opened up to pull in more light, just like everyone else's. But unlike everyone else's, this allowed light to flow back out as well, courtesy of the magic than animated her. Murky green flames they looked like, and that sometimes gave rise to the mistaken impression she was angry. Not the case--If she were truly in a rage, the flames would shrink to blazing red points, far removed from the broad wandering wisps currently on display. "The Hero?" she echoed her inner thought, "Working for the Demon King? I thought you were the Church's figurehead." But, anticipating her question, this Marina quickly moved to explain. Well, drips and drops, at least, but the full course was being deferred on account of danger. ...Not altogether unwise. "The next town..." Jade mused, answered shortly by the vampire chiming in. Tepel was the wrong direction, the way she had come. But maybe this would be worth an exception? With members in direct connection to the king, well, sometimes networking is worth more than money can buy. And it was for this reason too that she refrained from any outburst, merely drawing her lips into a slight frown when informed the sword would be confiscated, with compensation. A few moments, and a nod. "I understand your claim. If true, I won't ask for anything above cost, but for now all I have is your word on this, opposed with that of the man who sold it to me as 'a cursed sword that steals luck from your future to empower your present'. I'm sure it will be easy for you to prove as we ride along together, if you'd be willing to sit front and expl--" actually, that was not the best idea. "Nevermind... it can wait till night falls. You'd be better served the travel on the inside wouldn't you, covered from the sun. My apologies. You may hold onto it until we stop for the evening."
  10. Kim's words provoked Astin, and Thorvald could only hope the latter didn't really mean what they were saying, and were only provoking back. It was already enough of a betrayal what they were doing right now. Them and Marianne both. He just didn't understand how you could live with someone, work with someone that closely, and still hate them so deeply--all the while never even showing it. But there was no time to spend idly trying to wrap his mind around something that refused to be wrapped. Kim took aim at a target, and he followed up. She withdrew back closer to formation, and again, he followed up. The rumbling charge of his tank drew him close to another target of opportunity, and if they played the cards right, he could get some team effort in here as well, maybe make a solid dent. "Makoto!" He opted for just the boy's name, as he couldn't remember his callsign at the moment, and despite the ever so brief and perverse impulse to tease him as 'police officer' again, realized that the timing was unwise for such a joke. "Coming up on your six and taking aim at 11 o'clock. Think you can follow my lead? Don't worry about return fire, I'll manage that." Thorvald moves to 11,15; fires Rocket Barrels at Hyperion 1, supported by Makoto's Shoulder Rocket Pods
  11. Thank Jove, Hitomi listened. Linus was relieved to see she'd managed to leave the simulation before things went completely pear-shaped, as it sounds like they might have for Reinstall. There was nothing to be done though, the anomaly was already knocking at his gate, he had to punch out of here. He'd already given enough warnings that had gone ignored, hopefully... [Only one link left.] That voice again, the rogue AI's. On the heels of Hitomi's departure its meaning was unmistakable. A cold sweat broke out over his whole body it felt like, and Linus forgot almost to breathe, let alone to move. Two more ominous statements followed, but the mention of his name--they knew his name!--snapped him back long enough to finish the manual logout. At least, hopefully? Everything went black as soon as he'd gone through with it... but that aura had been swarming Sicarius. Had he been too late? All he could hear was the sound of his own breathing, at least for what seemed like dreadfully long moments. Long enough to fret over the meaning behind this entirely bizarre, and apparently not random occurrence. They had been deliberately targeted, sought out. Well, not him nor Hitomi for their own sake, but rather for someone who they knew... It wasn't Hitomi, he had to reassure himself, she was just another link. That had been clear enough from what he'd heard. But then who? Felix and Matsuo were ruled out as the connection, due to gender, this was a 'she' they were looking for...? There had only been two other women a part of Odyssey, the most obvious and important common ground here. Karina? No, Linus quickly shook his head, dismissing that choice. Nobody would need to go to such extreme lengths to track down someone in a coma. It had to be Carmen. He had to warn her. Fumbling in the dark, now at least having been long enough he was convinced he'd managed to leave the game after all, and not been caught up in whatever the rogue AI's plans for him had been--it wouldn't have stayed quiet this long if it had trapped him--Linus grabbed his phone, pulling it out, and the soft glow as the screen woke up barely illuminated the arcade pod he'd occupied. Pulling up their message history, sparser than he'd have liked it as of recently, he began typing out something. He paused shortly, unsure whether her handler was screening things now, after having begun to assert a level of control over the serf that Linus found infuriating, but there wasn't anything in this he'd change if Ninos were to read it anyway. Stay safe. Rogue AIs on the rampage today? I'm worried for you. Hopefully she'd message back, and he could figure out some way to convey the reason for concern in a much less vague manner, but then again, he had very little concrete to go on. This may just be a paranoid leap, wholly unjustified. But it might not be. Sighing to himself, he hit send on the message, then pushed his way out of the pod into the now-dark arcade. Stratus had been hit hard, it seems. Incoming message, that was fast!? Oh, from Hitomi. His heart was moving in fits and starts, with the sudden stimuli hitting before he had time to absorb them. Not that things hadn't been rocky before this latest mess had piled on. Hell, he'd been on the verge of just... Well, life goes on. Hitomi was right, they still needed to be professional about this. Wrap things up, one way or another. Probably all their tryouts would bail now, after a freak incident like that, but whatever. They could always try again, if that's what she wanted, hopefully after whatever weirdness they'd somehow gotten wrapped up in was resolved. Ah, there were the lights! And there was Hitomi, and somebody he didn't recognize from behind. No matter. With almost all the customers having thinned out, he didn't even need to push his way through any crowds to catch up to them. Reaching out a hand to Hitomi's shoulder, he spoke a little before making contact, hopefully not spooking her too bad. "That was..." no, he decided not to blame her for any foolishness on her part, not the right play. "I'm glad you're all right, and good call on giving people a place to gather up again." Finally catching a good look at the other party, Linus had a weird sense that she looked familiar, but something was off. Wait...
  12. Well, the lizard stopped moving after she shot it. That was a success right? Certainly seemed to be. Everywhere else seemed like it had seen the highwaymen routed by the curious band that had come to her rescue as well. Time to reel back in the sense of danger and bury the fight response. Time to calm down, and get a handle on the situation. Time for a smoke. Nodding to herself faintly, Jade pulled out her pipe and began leisurely packing in a small helping of her current tobacco mixture into the bowl, patting it in--but not overtight, leaving it room to breathe. It was something of a calming ritual, the way routine repeated gestures can often be, whether they're brushing one's hair, or offering guests a cup of tea. Once she'd gotten everything the way she'd liked it, a small ember in place for a slow burn, she brought her wagon over to where the majority of the group seemed to be gathering, the first mouthful of smoke rolling around her tongue before she pushed it out as a small ring, hanging in the air until taken elsewhere by whatever light breeze might blow their way. The succubus, easy to identify from appearances, was talking about wines and cheeses for some reason. Oh, poking a little fun, I see, the injured human that was the butt of the teasing left for awhile to clean up, and with that departure, the vampire archer she'd picked up earlier had come back over and brought with her a few questions. As well as a familiar sword. Frowning, Jade tried to temper the flare of anger that came from having her trust and her assistance abused. That turned out to be the right decision, as almost immediately, the warrior turned her inquisition to another source. That sneaky turncoat, she was responsible? "If you don't mind sharing the space with cargo, you could probably squeeze in. Depends what your standards for travel are, as well as where you're headed and any number of other things," Jade began a little dryly, unamused, her mood still not in the greatest shape. "And something tells me asking this slink of a thief won't get you the answers you're looking for. At least, not all of them." Engaging the brakes, Jade hopped down from the driver's seat, resting her straw hat where just recently had been her place. Then, knowing, of course, that if the Nightmares got it into their minds to move, the brakes would only slow them down but a little, she first walked around to each of the two, cooed a little and scratched them under the chins, getting them comfortable with the situation and letting them know that things were fine now. Turning back to the matter at hand, she then walked over to the vampire and held out her hand. "That," she indicated the damaged weapon, "Is my property," to which she followed up in lower tones, "though only somewhat recently acquired." Her wish to further upbraid or accuse the little scamp that had nicked it was put to bed by the human woman from before making her return, and quickly moving to coddle her. It was a little frustrating, but... then again. Jade closed her eyes and turned her head aside. "And what of you all? It's not everyday a group like yours can be found traveling the roads? If I'm to transport you, I'll need to know a lot more before we come to any agreement." She placed the bit of her pipe back in her mouth and stole another small puff as she awaited the reply.
  13. Oh, he had no idea at all, it seems. His obvious nervousness was actually kind of cute, in a way. "Ah, no, looks like they've started to calm back down a little already, guess I won't be needing your help after all," Jade lightly lied again. The deception seemed good enough, at least, no outward suspicions, and the black-winged angel went off on business of his own, cleaning up a fight the little rogue who'd approached her earlier had started. True to her word, it seemed she really was against killing. Curious. Well, there were still rascals about, and her way forward was still by no means secured. Time to continue to help clear the path. Jade to 4,12 shoot the sword lizard There were a couple of other unfamiliar faces nearby now, but she'd learned her lesson, not to call out and chase after the first rarity that catches her interest. If they talked to her, that would be a different story, but for now, better focus on business.
  14. My gut feel would be if it passed 10 pages, or lasted longer than 6 months it should probably qualify? Maybe the page guideline is too lax though, a lot of nerds working very quickly can pump out quite the output if they're dedicated enough.
  15. The requests hadn't seemed quite like spam, given that they were, roughly speaking, on topic. That said, since they were generally doomed to failure, it probably is better to consolidate. Your point about the more thinly veiled erp posts is valid though, and perhaps it does need to be explicitly mentioned that the roleplay forum is designed for coordinating roleplays that are to be carried out on the boards. I don't feel we should necessarily foster connecting or organizing things that will be carried out primarily in discord, private, or otherwise off-site. There is room for broader discussion on this matter however, if people disagree. The feedback forum has a bit of history, tbh, and imho, none of it really good. It was a solution to a problem that didn't exist, and when the community tried using it for things that made sense instead of its nominal purpose, there was some heavy-handed blowback. It really is a dinosaur now, and was never really relevant. I've pulled the trigger on that, since the mod team was in agreement. As far as the difference between interest check and sign-up, I don't see the point necessarily in segregating the two. Actual OOC chatter for an established game should have its own place though (read separate thread, not separate forum), I can agree. I think most groups quickly tend to find out that real-time chat formats worked better for this, which is why board OOC has been so dead these days, so I'm not sure it's really worth splintering off separate boards for the different kinds of OOC threads, so imo they can all coexist in the one forum. That said, to help clarify this, I'll rename "Chat" to a slightly more descriptive "General OOC", but if anyone has a better suggestion for a name, give a shout. I'll probably start slowly migrating signups threads from the past over to it over the weekend. Keeping the main board itself to strictly all IC seems like it could be worthwhile. I don't know if it will help foster activity or ferment excitement, but I don't think it could hurt.
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