As I sit here and write my memoirs I walk along the lanes of my memory. Some are well kept and are tender to my feet, signifying those memories that make me happy. Likewise, I see some that are crooked, misshapen and full of burrs and thorns. The ironic thing is that these are the memories I visit the most. I guess they keep me grounded in reality; the cold, merciless, depressing reality. I look outside my window and see the war factories producing endless amounts of arms and siege weapons against the Cats and Zombies. How did it come to this? We were at peace, however short it was, and now we have been caught in the entanglement that is Great War.
Goodness, I'm more depressing than Grim, and he's just like that naturally! I guess I just miss the mirth and laughter I used to produce so naturally. Here I am feeling sorry for myself! Goodness Nib, old man! Pull yourself together! Alright!
Whether it is by fate or by chance you happened upon this tome I hope it will serve to educate you on the events and the extraordinary individuals that have surrounded me during my lifetime. I apologize if it seems biased at times, but then again these are my memoirs and not the official History of 8bitloria found in the Stultorum Library now is it? Keep in mind I was brash and not as tactful in my youth as I am today. If I had been, perhaps things would have played out differently...
Anyway, I can't drone on forever so I hope you enjoy my memoirs and I hope, I most sincerely hope, that you will learn from my mistakes and do your best to uphold justice for all and to strive for peace amongst all the extraordinary races that inhabit our realm.
The Great Fool,
Chapter 1: My Early Days
Now, where to begin? Ah, yes. Concerning humans: Humans are smelly, ill-tempered and will always start a fight when they feel like it. At least that was my impression in my childhood days, as I wandered about my small village. I was different from the other children in the fact that I had no aggressive bone in my body. Interestingly enough, this is a rare case as every human you meet has, at least, some inkling of aggression stored inside of themselves. I was incapable of becoming angry, or rather, I was incapable of using my anger as a weapon; as most humans usually do. This brought about many afternoons of running, beatings, and then sobbing my eyes out until they were dry. I was not very adept at the art of war and swordplay, as the other boys were. It's not that I couldn't pick up a sword and swing it; I just didn't see the need. It had never occurred to me that there were creatures and rival power-mongering tribes who would strike me down as soon as they caught sight of me. So, with a rather large amount of reluctance on my part, I would begrudgingly take part in morning training.
Now then, enough about my day-to-day schedule, let's talk about my family. I had a Father, strong, wise and-most importantly-kind. My mother, prone to fits of sneezing due to her severe allergies, served as one of my greatest teachers. What I lacked in the more, how-to-say, "Intellectual" subjects she more than made up for during my studies at home. As far as siblings go, I would have had a brother but he died during birth. Although I was very young when it happened I remember my mother sobbing uncontrollably in bed and my father sitting lifeless by the window, staring out into the fields his new little boy would have eventually frolicked through. This was, of course, years from where we are currently, but this being my memoirs I figured I might as well share some small part of my family history, no matter how imaginary it would seem. Anyway, I wish to go into further detail about the two who brought me into this world.
My Father, Thorobrand Nicholas Nibrudly, was one of the better warriors in my village. He wasn't the best, per se, but I, along with plenty of others, believed he could run our village should our current Chief fall from us. While most of the fathers in my village would be rather rude or downright cruel to their boys for failure to become "real men" my father accepted I was different and helped me embrace who I was and what I was becoming. Of course no Nibrudly Man can skip out on morning training so he'd send me out the door every morning with shield and wooden steak in hand. While I disliked it my father helped me realize that while peace is desirable, one must be strong and know how to defend himself and others if he ever hopes to obtain it. So, despite my reluctance to become a savage, bloody troll (I tell you I was sure some of the men spent their days under a bridge!) I understood that to protect others you have to better yourself physically, mentally, and, although it was rarely brought into question, spiritually.
My mother, Philipia Primrose Hslawgo, was the sweetest, kindest flower in the whole village. That didn't mean she wouldn't give you a backhand if you had it coming! But she served as my refuge when I'd come in all battered and bruised after being caught by my "chums". She knew I was a gentle heart and she did her best to help it beat louder and stronger. She taught me basic morality and philosophy, to the point where I was mediating arguments amongst the children in my village when they got hot-tempered and were anxious to let their fists fly. While I was successful most of the time the children would then remember I was an outcast and would resume the chase. Suffice to say, I became a rather skilled sprinter and quite the contortionist due to the small size of the hiding places available for my use. But I digress, my mother had very severe allergies and the tiniest bit of pollen or dander could set her off. Spring was almost literally murder for her, but it was her favorite season despite of it. Sadly enough it was in spring that she passed from us after getting dreadfully sick during the winter. I was about thirteen at this time and I was as much an anchor for my Father as he was for me.
So I continued to train and study to become a wise and learned warrior. It could be said that my house, which I was now rarely occupying, was my home away from home due to the sheer amount of time I spent pouring over every piece of parchment in our town repository. While the other men spent long hours training their bodies I was busy training my mind, when I wasn't needed for physical work such as harvesting or a barn-raising of course. My life was finally starting to come together in my village. I was getting some respect and I was made the assistant teacher in the small tent that was our school. My life was finally going the way I wanted it to.
Alas, tragedy was to strike my life again that following summer; and only a month after my fourteenth birthday. That was when we were assaulted by the Cats. They came in mobs, the last light of the sunset glistening of their claws. They wore strange clothing and spoke rather elegant Human Speak as they shouted out insults and threats as they made their advance. They practically razed our village to the ground, slashing and burning everything and everyone. I made it my priority to get the village children to someplace safe. As I finished gathering the children around me I saw Terror turning its feline head in our direction. I yelled "RUN!" as the cat charged at us. Just as I was about to be impaled on the fiend's claws, my father threw himself in front of me and took the blow. Don't think the Cat got away with it though; my father quickly returned the favor and ran him through with his sword. As he fell towards the earth I caught him in my arms, trying my derndest to hold back the tears that wanted to spring forth from my eyes. He saw the sorrow on my face. He smiled at me. Through the wheezing he told me I was a strong man and a strong warrior. And with his final breath he said those three words sons rarely hear from their father: "I love you." And with that he went to join my mother. I did my best to contain my sobbing as I led the children away from our smoldering village. We spent the next twelve hours traveling along the road, being wary of any ambushes until we reached the small village, Tranzenia.
Once my wards were safe and had been adopted into good homes, I took it upon myself to learn more to expand my already lengthy list of skills. So, within a month of our arrival, I became "apprentice" to a recluse who lived in the woods. It was this old man who taught me to forage, to build shelter from nothing but sticks and leaves, and to track and hunt game. So now I was becoming an accomplished woodsman and I had yet to grow a hair on my chin. After three years in the woods I decided it would be a smart idea to go learn how to make good buildings, buildings that would not fall from a Cat's claw or a flaming torch. So I joined the local Masonry and I learned how to build good-looking, Cat resistant, structurally sound buildings. These were surprisingly very good years despite the trauma I experienced only four years prior. It was the summer of my eighteenth year that my life would be utterly changed forever.
Chapter 2: Happy Birthday
It was my eighteenth birthday. I woke up, put on my clothes, packed a lunch sack, and grabbed my sword as I headed out to begin my day. Now, in my village, you could do anything you wanted-within legal reason-on your birthday and thankfully, my new home celebrated this tradition as well. So I did not have to go into work that morning as I made my way towards the village outskirts, greeting everyone I passed with a cheery "Good Morning." Upon reaching the village gate (that I had helped create) I went over to the small guardhouse there and had a wonderful conversation with Old Man Roman. He had served as a mentor to me when I was trying to decide what to do with my life. Because of him I spent three years in the woods and was granted entry into the Stone-Masons’ Guild due to his recommendation. It was he who was that "recluse" in the woods, who then came back to society after my 3 years with him. As it had turned out, he had been the Head of the Guild until a nervous breakdown after some of his buildings didn't make the cut. He then went into the woods and stayed there by himself until my arrival 7 years later. So now he serves as the gateman of Tranzenia, being our first line of communication and defense, should we be attacked.
After finishing our conversation I borrowed his horse and went on my way down the road, back to my old home. I had started this birthday tradition after my first year of relocation. It helped me to remember my heritage and all that had once been what I had known as my life. Upon my arrival three hours later, I visited the graves of my Mother and Father, both of them sleeping underneath a willow tree. The mournful tree reflected my emotions as I stood there looking down at the cold, stone slabs.
I remember being among the men that returned to my village to assess the damage. I was among those who piled burned timbers and buried the dead. It was upon finding my father's stone-cold corpse that all my pain and sorrow burst forth. I later heard from the whisperings of those who had been with me that I had made the most terrifying noise they had ever heard. Of course I had, for my scream was that of ultimate suffering. Have you ever looked upon the cold, lifeless face of one you have loved so dearly your whole life, and then have been brought to the very edge of sickness from the stench coming off of their unattended corpse? Have you ever had everything you have ever known stolen from right in front of you, ran for your very life away from the carnage, and then returned only to relive it all over again? Have you ever felt the universe wanted you to suffer for no apparent reason, just because it found your agony entertaining? That is what sorrow and tragedy are! That, dear reader; is the ultimate suffering I had gone through.
But I digress. After speaking with my parents and walking through that ghost town located within my memories, I began my trek back to Tranzenia. As I rode back I felt enormous sorrow and pain, not just for my losses but for those of the children who had gone through the same horrifying experience as I had. My thoughts then turned towards a dark, thorny path in my mind, a path I had never dared to tread upon until now: the road of anger and vengeance. For the first time in my life I wanted to hurt something, and I was going to enjoy every moment as I did it. I envisioned the Cat that stole my father on that horrible night in the dark recesses of my mind. He charged at me but was stopped dead in his tracks. He tried to move and call for help but he couldn't, not while I was there, not while I was keeping him restrained. As I made my way toward him I could hear his pitiful whimpering and mewling through his closed maw. I relished in his fear, his horror, and his newfound agony. As I raised my sword to start my horrendous regimen of torture I saw the shadow of my father in the background. As I looked at him he looked back at me. He had this sad look on his face, no words came forth from his mouth but I understood the message he wished to convey, "This isn't you. This isn't right."
As he vanished from my eyes I looked back on the face of the Cat. I saw the genuine fear in his eyes. I saw the contorted spasms of his muscles as he tried to wiggle out of my psychic hold on him. As I turned away to escape the Cat's gaze to my surprise I found a full-length mirror standing before me. As I walked towards the mirror it reflected this terrifying monstrosity. It resembled a human but had no skin, only muscle, along with a totally bare skull. Fire was flaring forth from its eye sockets. As I drew closer I put my hand over my mouth in shock...and the monster in the mirror did the same. With newfound horror I started to do all sorts of strange tricks and funny faces, the monster mimicking me in every way. It then sunk into my psyche: this was me; this was what I had become in those few short minutes as I had embraced my anger and hatred. I ran as fast and as far away as I could from that mirror! As I ran I looked at my hands and was horrified to watch them decompose, my eyes felt, ironically, like they were on fire. I knew I was turning into that monster in the mirror, that Fiend of Anger and Death. As I ran I tripped and then I felt myself falling, falling, falling...
As I hit the ground I awoke to find myself lying on the road with pain in my ribs and skull. I had dozed off and had fallen off my horse. But I wasn't naive enough to not realize that that had been no ordinary dream. That was a warning; a warning of what I could become if I gave in to my anger and succumbed to my thoughts of vengeance. I got back on my horse and continued my ride. I felt funny. Funny because I was feeling something that made no sense. I felt peace. I realized it was peace in the fact that I had just passed some sort of test. Whether it was my subconscious or an actual message from my father I'll never know. I was just glad it helped me get back to reality.
As I was closing in on the final mile of road that stretches out along the plains towards Tranzenia, I looked up a saw a bright flash of light. The Flash was soon accompanied by a humongous boom! So strong was the aftershock, I fell off the horse again! As I picked myself up I saw an object floating in the sky. It was growing bigger and bigger. It finally dawned on me that it wasn't getting bigger; it was getting closer! I dove into some grass as the mysterious object flew over me and crashed into the plain. After recovering from the shock, I decided now would be a good time to run. But something about this mysterious object made me curious; a trait that would put me in many a sketchy situation as you shall soon see, er, read. As I approached the debris, I started to make my examination. The first thing I noticed was that this wasn't some random piece of flotsam, but a person. Not a regular person, mind you, but it was, indeed, Homo 8bitian. As I drew closer I stuck my hand out to touch it, but before I could it sprang up from the ground! Beams of white light pouring from its eye sockets! As I waited for my immenent death the being's eyes went from a brilliant light display to two standard human eyeballs. The being then let out a loud sigh as it slumped to the ground, unconscious. This was an amazing discovery! I hurriedly placed the being across my saddle and walked back to town. Where it came from and why it came I did not know. What I did know was that this stranger from the sky was going to play an important role in my life; for the next few hours, at least.
Chapter 3: The Strange VisitorEdit
It took some effort to move through the streets due to the large crowd that had formed. Eventually, I and my find made it to the hospital and to the town healer. After a thorough (and I do mean thorough) examination, it was found that nothing was out of the ordinary with our guest aside from his clammy skin and rigid complexion. Obviously, the Visitor wasn't going to wake up soon so I decided to go help with the construction of the town fortress. Ever since the destruction of my village, the people of Tranzenia have worked on improving the village defenses. We finished the wall only a year ago. This fortress would be our source of shelter and retribution in the worst-case scenario of a Cat Attack. But I digress.
The following morning I walked in to the hospital to find the Visitor had changed sleeping position but was still quite out of it. As I sat down next to the bed the Visitor started to toss and turn. As I called for the healer, the Visitor shot up and let out one of the loudest yells I have ever witnessed. The Healer came in accompanied by two bodyguards should our Visitor prove to be aggressive. He was rather placid, actually. You know, aside from the endless screaming of "WHAT HAPENED?! WHERE AM I?!" and the attempted tearing off of his face. It was actually quite entertaining. Finally, he calmed down enough to listen to my introduction. I told him I was known as Nibrudly and he was in the village of Tranzenia. He began to introduce himself but curiously started to mumble as he got to his name. Eventually he was able to tell us was known as Sim Nyne (written out as Sim9 as I would learn in our later travels) and he had come from the Sky Portal. This explained the strange cloud with unnaturally colored lightning that had formed several leagues away from our village.
As soon as he felt well I took him on a tour of the village. I showed him our school, the wall, our town square, and my three story home I had built all on my own. He liked it all very much. He then asked who could teach him about the world, how to build, and how to fight. This was rather interesting; barely a day after crashing into the ground headfirst and he wants to learn basic education. I figured it was due to an unnoticed concussion of some sort. Upon this belief I decided it would be best for someone to watch after him, but I was sure nobody would be willing to take him in. So I decided it was time to put the second story of my house to use and take on a boarder.
The next morning my accommodations were graced with a visit from our village chief, the mighty warrior Harzipan. Harzipan had served during the Great Cat War a few decades back. it had left him with one eye and one leg. But he could still trounce any who challenged him. After introducing Sim9 to Harzipan I began his instruction. It was grueling to say the least, as it seemed I was training a toddler. He had the short attention span and could throw a tantrum like one too. But, eventually, I was able to educate him about standard village life, how to place stone pavers and some very basic swordplay.
To further his learning I was able to land him an apprenticeship in the guild and I had him join our town militia. He was exhausted within two days time. He had as much stamina as a hog on a hot summer day. It was rather embarrassing. Not for Sim9, although he certainly had much to be embarrassed about, but I was having trouble showing my face in public. I do realize this was extremely shallow and vain, but you try having pride in someone who can't go two minutes without complaining or calling for a break when you asked him the simple task of placing a block! And I was known to be a very good teacher. My pupils, however inexperienced they began, always showed major improvement after they had finished their tutelage with me. He was ruining my reputation and I wasn't going to stand for it!
Over the next few months I started him on a rigorous regimen of building, fighting and studies that'd make a learned scholar cry for mercy. Interestingly enough, he learned far more quickly under this newfound pressure. Soon I could show my face in public again, as Sim9 was now of average talent. (I never said I could make them geniuses.)
Moving on, there was increased Cat activity in the woods and we were all on edge. We fortified the wall and increased our production of the fortress. We weren't going to take any chances. And within a few weeks they finally made their move. What was about to happen next surprised everyone in Tranzenia, especially me.
Chapter 4: The BeginningEdit
It was eerie how similar it all felt. The attack at sunset, the battle formations, the threats and insults in human; they even wore the same outfits! When I talked to Sim9 about it afterwards he said that where he came from, they called it "deja vu." However, this was not going to end the same way. I vowed I'd never allow that to happen. Last time they took us by surprise, this time we were waiting for them.
As the sky was changing from a blissful blue to a fiery orange, Old Man Roman was watching the treeline. Ten years of living in the woods had heightened his senses. He could hear them before the first claw caught the glow of the setting sun. Although I am sure they were trying to be stealthy, Roman told me later he could hear multiple twigs snapping and a few low growls as the Cats made their advance. As soon as he rang the warning bell, both sides of the battlefield sprung into action. The Cats didn't care about stealth anymore, they were going to rush over us like a wave rushes over a beach. We quickly moblized our militia, sending reinforcements to aid Roman at the gate.
As the reinforcements left, the rest of our forces worked quickly to get every woman and child into the fortress. Once they were secured, Chief Harzipan organized our defense. Our formation was that of a bull's-eye; three rings of infantry, with make-shift barricades all around the city perimiter. Along with all our calvary in the center, ready to launch out of the city should a hole appear. Sim9 and I were assigned to the front line, the first ring of defense. As we started putting up our siege walls we could hear the Cats crashing into the gate, trying so hard to come and steal our lives away.
Had they not brought ladders it would have been a simple task of mowing them down with archer volleys. Unfortunately, their large numbers and their hardware made it clear that the Cats had been watching us for awhile. As Roman and his squad fought on the ramparts, the Cats were bringing forth their battering ram. The gate was made to take a lot of punishment, but one Cat was all it took to open the gate and release the flood. As Cat after Cat climbed up the wall it became clear to Roman that it wasn't going to be a matter of if they could breach us, but when. Roman focussed his men on taking out the ladders to stop the constant deluge of Cats. A few men were lost in the process of pushing over the ladders laiden with felines, but it allowed the defenders a few moments rest to re-evaluate the situation. As they were regrouping they heard a horn sound from the village. "Good job lads." said Roman as he picked up a discarded shield, "They're ready for the rain to come! Fall back! Tactical retreat!"
We had just finished putting up our defenses when Harzipan blew his horn, signaling the response force they could fall back. We had never intended to hold the gate, otherwise we wouldn't have bothered with building the fortress. As the response force fell back we readied our weapons. Swords and daggers came out of thier sheathes and shields were re-adusted to fit comfortably, while arrows were fitted and stones were slung as we prepared to face the horde.
Chapter 5: Waves upon RockEdit
As soon as the response force made it to the front ring we could hear the gate shattering from the repeated abuse of the enemy's battering ram. It did not take long for the feline horde to cover the distance that seperated our two forces. As they made their advance I remembered that dream I had on my 18th birthday. I wanted to defend my foster home along with my new family, but I did not want to become that fiend of Anger and Vengeance in the process. Call it odd, but I thought I felt a hand on my shoulder, reassuring me. I would fight, but I would not allow myself to be drowned in anger. I would kill, but only to protect my neighbors, not to satisfy a need for vengance.
As I sorted my out my emotions, I looked over at Sim9. It wasn't hard to tell he was scared. His knees were shaking, his palms were sweating, and he couldn't stop mumbling to himself. Following the example of that phantom hand, I laid mine on Sim's shoulder, hoping this would give him the courage he was apparently lacking. We adopted our stances as the archers and sling-men prepared to release their first volley. The Cats were shouting and cursing at the top of their lungs as they rushed towards us. "Fire!" came the command, and a wave of stones and arrows fell upon the Cats.
You'd think this would, at the very least, decrease thier speed. They just jumped over the corpses and continued their advance. We barely had enough time to fire another volley before they were upon us. As the artillery fell back to re-equip themselves, the infantry rushed forward to teach those fiends a lesson. We were doing a mediocre job of things and the next wave of Cats was almost upon us. It was at this time we were suffering some casualties. Men were being clawed and bitten before falling to the ground. Our defense was getting weaker and weaker. In the confusion I had misplaced Sim9. As quickly as I could-since I was being assaulted-I surveyed the carnage looking for my charge. Yes, I had taught him some swordplay, but this was the first time he had to use it! I finally found him across the battlefield. He was currently doing his derndest to protect a man who had fallen down while putting up a good fight.
As I ran to aid my friend the Cats sent in another wave. I had reached Sim9 just in time to get the wind knocked out of me as a Cat rammed into my side. Before the fiend could wound me, Sim9 quickly dispatched it. I got e Cat's blood in my mouth and dern, it tasted horrible. I made my way over to our fallen comrade and started to assess his physical well being. It didn't look good, as far as I could see. He had deep gashes in his side and a rather nasty looking head wound. However, he wasn't about to let Death carry him away. As I started to rip my shirt to make some bandages, I yelled "Sim! Cover us while I patch him up!"
"I'm trying! I'm trying! Would you let up already you flipping cats!?"
As I was dressing the wounds I could hear Sim9 grunting and yelling as his steel clanged against the Cats' claws. I was almost done when one of the Cats broke formation and barreled towards my patient and I. I had that "deja vu" feeling again as I remembered that other Cat that had charged; the one who had taken my father from me. He was going too fast for me to get my sword, and I knew he was going to slit my throat once he reached us. I accepted my fate, and was ready to offer my life to protect this man, if only for a few precious seconds. But before death could take me, the most extraordinary thing happened.
With unbelivable speed and precision, Sim9 appeared in front of the charging Cat and ran him through. He then ran into the fray and cut down every Cat he saw with almost impossible precision and, dare I say, style. Where in the world did he learn how to do that?! That was far more advanced than anything I had taught him, even more advanced that what I had seen Chief Harzipan perform! Within seconds the most recent wave was lying on the ground; their bodies still and eyes wide with surprise. Within minutes the enemy was routed and sent into a retreat. Our archers picked off the easy targets as they ran away. I gathered my 'patient' up in my arms and brought him to the hospital where several dozen were already being treated. I made sure he was taken care of before I started my search for Sim9. One does not whine and slack off for three months while training at the pell, and suddenly, in their first skirmish, out-perform the best swordsman in the village. One way or another, I was going to get an answer out of Sim9, and I was going to make him pay for wasting weeks of my life I could never get back!