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Ultimax’s Story
An autobiographic recollection, by Ultimax

I shoulda killed my grandfather when I had the chance. Not an easy thing ta do, lemme tell ya. General Ultimaster Ultimus is one mean, nasty, sumbitch. And while he calls himself "General" he's really a Warlord, in charge o' one o' the biggest, toughest, groupa mercenary pricks ya ever had the honor ta be tortured and slain by. He's an arrogant, cocky, old bastard, and he deserves
his reputation. He won more battles for the nobles of Britannia than Lords British or Blackthorn would care ta count, I bet, 'specially since he weren't one of their reg'lar generals.

I was an only child, born in a keep south o' Trinsic, a long time ago, where we lived fer a huge hunk o' my childhood. I was born Ultimax Ultimus, son of Ultimazing the Mage, and grandson of Ultimaster. When I was growin' up my father had his nose jammed in a book far too often ta care how his father, my grandfather, tortured me with his training, from the time I was five years old. Do I sound pissed? Good. I hated it. I don't care how much the morons out there'll say I was better off fer what he taught me, they'd be wrong 'cause it was wrong.

My marriage was an arranged one, between our "clan" an' a local rival's, from the woods between Vesper and the Shrine o' Sacrifice. In fact, the day an' time of the weddin' was set aroun' three weeks afore I was even born. She come inta the world 3 years after me, and they even named her Ultimaxine, following the way my fam'ly names their brats, after my grandfather. I didn't even meet her until jes before the weddin', when I was 15 years old--already a Captain in the family militia-for-hire.

I can't say I didn't wanna marry her. Hell, she was, and is, still the most beautiful woman I've ever known. And while sometimes, late at night, when I'm alone and spreadin' out my bedroll next ta my campfire, I remember loving her, I'll always know I was never IN love with her. And it feels even worse when I remember that she never loved me in any way. They way we acted toward each other was much in the way my fam'ly treated ev'rythin', with stubborn loyalty an' excessive friction. Not ta say there wasn't passion, and affection in our own way. Damn, she popped out seven brats, there musta been sumphin there. At least, that's what I keep tellin' myself.

I don't know what happened along the way, not fully. My grandfather catered ta 'Maxine, like he never did ta no one else. Maybe at first the thinkin' was jes keepin' good clan relations. She totally went fer it, and got whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted it. Even if it meant someone else suffered, an' she knew it, too. So did I, an' I didn't do nuthin' about it because my grandfather was in charge. I watched as people went hungry on the streets of Britain. I turned the other way as we sold stolen healer's  supplies in Buccaneer's Den. Eventually, I even joined in, like when we shang-haied sailors to crew our ships, or when I tortured that farmer's wife fer eight days 'cause she was sending food to a rival army and we needed ta know where they was held up. Mebbe the worse part is that I was good at the family business. Damn good. I was always tryin' ta prove myself ta my  grandfather, especially in my younger days. I ain't never said I was a saint're nuthin', an' they's a lotta things I done I ain't proud of, an' when I die I know I ain't goin' ta any place where the good people will be goin', but at some point in yer life ya gotta stop doin' stupid things jes 'cause someone else's doin' it.

I'd like ta say I wised up early on, but I didn't. It was scores o' years inta my career before I started to follow my own plan. Y'know what? I did okay. Nuthin spectac'lar, but good anyways. A'course, this made General Ultimaster get all fire an' brimstone on me. Things never were that great--sometimes life was pure Hell because he made it that way jes 'cause he enjoyed what he was doin'--an' this was the point where things got worse.

I remember buyin' a house in Trinsic, and movin' my fam'ly there. My grandfather busted somethin' important inside his head when I did that. Y'see, we wasn't campin' with the family troops now, so's he couldn't dictate our every action no more. He started doin' things ta make my life worse, jes so's I'd get "back in line." Mebbe it was me being as stubborn and ornery as him, but I eventually told him ta go ta Hell, among other choice words. What can I say? It's a family trait ta take no crap. Sometimes I look back an' wonder how things mighta gone if, when we'd had it out, my grandfather and me, if I'd reacted diff'rent. Mebbe killed him, an' I coulda took over. Or mebbe listened ta him an' be dead already. I dunno, an' I ain't gonna speculate too much more.

They started shuttin' me out. The family first. Then my troops would only do what I said if'n they heard things was jake with my grandfather. Then my wife. She started spendin' mosta her time with the soldiers, an' their general. We had a lotta arguments then, real doozies, too. A lotta bullyin' an crap was flyin' aroun' and everyone was being takin' down by it. The local guards, the one's that's mercenaries (and jes how many guards aren't in it fer the money?), they started hasslin' me alla time. I couldn't even go inta the inn's without getting' inta some brannagin with 'em. I remember getting' the crap kicked outa me by 10 guys in an alley one night, an' they left me fer dead. It was my oldest kid that found me the next day, the oly one in the fam'ly what ever had any sense, an' brought me t' the healer.

So's I quit. I had a big blow-out with my grandfather and told him t' kiss my ass. Man, was he pissed, ta put it mildly. I still get a kick outa remem'brin' the look on his scarred and wrinkly ol' puss. Ev'ryone knew he had a hate fer me, but he still tried t' stop me. I guess he thought he wasn't done getting' his way. He started sayin' things ta me that really got me fumin'. Sher, I'm lettin' ya in onna lotta my personal business, but the things we said ta each other that night ain't nonna anybody's business. All's ya needs ta know is that I had t' literally fight my way outa his encampment that night, and I ain't never been back. I went out inta the world ta make it on my own. I started close ta home, so's I could still be with my fam'ly. I got work trainin' some really dumb, but rich, people. I trained 'em hard, and they's better off fer knowin' me.

O' course, that wasn't the enda my problems. One night I came home, an' soon's I passed the gate, the guards was all over me. Right away I knew my grandfather set me up. They was yellin' things about me bein' a thief, and a murderer, and like that. I also knew that, because o' my grandfather, I'd never be able t' go home again. Never one ta be stopped by adversity, I joined up with a guild as a permanent gig. They was a buncha half-sissies, but good people anyways. They put up with me fer a long time. I heard things about my family in that time, most of it not good. But, I maintained my focus, kept my nose clean, did the right thing. You know how it goes, when yer tryin' ta prove sumphin ta yerself. Ya try not to think o' where ya keep goin' wrong.

A long time passed this way, an' most of it fulla people who thought me a thief, or worse. There was a big hole insida me, and there was nuthin comin' along ta fill it. I dunno how many times I tried to figure out how t' force the world t' start bendin' my way, but, well, the world jes don' work like that.

I stood outside Trinsic one cold winter's day, watchin'. People's goin' in and out. Warriors, craftsmen, families.... I watched, caught up in the things goin' on in my head. Missin' my family. Achin' fer a better life. Regrettin' so many things. Body all wrapped up in clothes and rags, tryin' ta use a tree t' block the bitin' wind, nose drippin'. Sometimes, I think, there ain't nuthin sadder than someone watchin' someone else's wretched life and wishin' it was his. I got real old that way. It took a lotta days like that fer me ta stop wishin' fer things that ain't never gonna happen an' realize that the way I live my life's up ta me.

Then Lord British had some new laws, an' declared sumphin like an amnesty, and made sher all his guards followed his new plan. I actually coulda gone home, if I wanted to. But, I guess I jes wasn't ready fer that. I don't really know specifically what kept pushin' me away, but I went even further from home after that. I went North.

I was in Britain fer awhile, an' the mountain passes north and east. Made a small name fer m'self, I guess. But, I didn't stay long, an' soon went back on my...I guess you'd call it pilgrimage. I went further north and east, not stayin' anywhere fer long. Made some enemies. Met people who had heard an' believed my grandfather's rumors o' me bein' a thief, and hadda move on. I started hearin' rumors, myself, about my family. One rumor I try not ta give too much weight is the one about my grandfather and my wife. Another about my oldest boy runnin' away with my youngest, maybe goin' ta Britain t' find me. This one actually had me goin' back there, lookin' fer 'em, but I guess that rumor was some jackass's idea of a joke. I didn't see my kids then, and I never heard from or about 'em again. I kept movin'.

Eventually I founda place where somma the folk ain't hearda the rumors, but only a few, like dem people I work fer, and that puny kid that follows me around. Some others don't care, like dem viscous Amazon broads and that ex-murderer, and I guess that's the best that I can expect from life. I settled down, as much as any vagrant does. I even changed my profession. I'ma  carpenter now, or try ta be. I ain't so good yet. At least all the wood choppin' keeps me in shape.

I was thinkin' o' goin' home again recently. Maybe I thought I was ready, I dunno. I sent a pigeon to my wife recently, and I got a message in return. It said t' not come back, that I ain't wanted. I don' know if'n that was from her, or maybe my grandfather, or what. Whoever sent it, it wasn't sumphin I was happy t' hear. I started feelin' like ev'rythin' I wanted was jes outa reach, and I spent dozens a years chasin' like a mule chases a carrot danglin' from the end of a stick in front of him.

I sat on a log that day fer a long time tryin' ta think about all sortsa things. Eventually I figured all my thinkin' wasn't gonna make me suddenly know the "whys" and the "what fers" of people I ain't even seen in years, especially since I coudn'ta done it when I saw them ev'ry day. I started thinkin' instead, this way. The people I work fer, they's nice enough, I suppose. The owner is nice, an sometimes I c'n see I got a lot in common with her no-nonsense aunt, but I think alla my scars puts dem good folk off some. The only one I ain't seen flinch izzat kid who started hangin' around me--dressin' like me, talkin' like me. Mebbe, sometimes, family ain't always the people that's shoved down yer throat by birth, an' not even the ones that ya pick fer yerself, but the folks that pick you. I ain't happy, not by a long shot, but, fer once, life don't suck so much. An' I guess sometimes that's the best I can expect outa life.


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