It was when I was still quite young. I was on a journey. Not a pleasant hike, mind you- it was a bitter, harrowing road, and misfortune seemed to be around every corner. Not because of the scenery- in fact, if it was just that, I'm sure I'd have had a wonderful time. No, it was because of a group of people. I'm not certain if calling them a "group" is right, because they didn't seem organised, just some sort of culture or something. I called them "the Psychopaths". Why? Because they were aggressive as all hell, that's why. It's strange; they seemed like normal, everyday people, but trust me, they were not. They were out to beat me into the ground wherever I went. I'm still not sure what exactly their problem was, but they seemed to think of it as a sort of game or a contest. It was sick, simply sick. They didn't care about who might get hurt or how many heads would roll. Fortunately, I wasn't alone. I had some friends who travelled with me, protecting me with their very lives... Key word being "had". They're not around anymore. I think you can guess why. 

Now, there's a specific moment on this journey that I want to tell you about: the end of it. It was in a forest, and it was just me and Xaros. Xaros was the only remaining friend I had. All the others were long gone. But no sense crying over spilt milk- I had to lead us to safety. The Psychopaths were everywhere in that forest. Oh, how I hated them. They didn't care how outnumbered we were, and there was at least a couple of them around every tree and along every path, seemingly having waited there for weeks for some poor sap to pass by. And they never came alone. Granted, Xaros was around to cover me, but they would gang up on us, without relent. I just can't imagine why anyone would be so filled with wrath that they would wait in the forest to attack someone purely for some sick amusement, let alone so many. 

After an hour of non-stop skirmishing throughout the woods, we finally came close to the other end... Or so I thought. Xaros and I were taking a break hidden behind a tree, completely exhausted, when suddenly, I heard rustling of nearby grass. And yes, sadly it was true- out popped the grinning face of a Psychopath. He looked to still be in grade school, wearing casual kid's clothes and with eyes that shone of innocence, but his intentions were anything but. It took him but a few seconds to call for his friends to fight us. I looked to Xaros, worried. He was in no state to battle now, but we had to. Xaros jumped between me and the young Psychopath's gang, ready to defend me. Xaros growled at the first of the Psychopath's goons to approach as a warning, but it didn't help; next thing I knew, Xaros was bitten in the hind leg and bleeding (oh, I didn't tell you Xaros wasn't human? Well, sorry, I thought you caught on). I ordered Xaros to lash back, but it was no use; a quick blow to the head and Xaros fell to the ground. The Psychopath cheered triumphantly; clearly he didn't even realise what he had just done. I just stood there, pale. They got Xaros. It was over. 

After a little while, the young Psychopath noticed I still hadn't moved. He called out to me, "Hey! I'm pretty sure he's still okay, you know! Cheer up!" But I didn't cheer up. I took a deep breath, sighed, and walked towards Xaros. No backing out now. I had sworn to do this when I took the challenge. I crouched, placed a hand on Xaros's body, which was still breathing slowly. I thought of all the good times we've had and all the things he'd done for me. Thank you, my friend. It has been a wonderful time. Then, I gripped Xaros' head, and with one swift movement, I snapped his neck. I looked up at the child's face and watched his victorious smile distort into a shocked grimace, then into one of disbelief. Yeah, didn't expect that one, did you? Well, you should've thought about it earlier. I took out my pocket knife and carved that accursed word into Xaros' forehead. The Psychopath, now not so psychopathic anymore, had turned to pure terror. With a stuttering voice, he brought out, "Wh-what are you doing to h-him?!" I didn't respond. I wiped the bloody knife and tucked it back into my pocket. I walked away; walked away from everything. I had lost all my friends, I had failed the challenge, my journey was over. 

When I looked back, I saw the young boy, still full of disbelief, looking at the word I had carved in Xaros' forehead. Yeah, let it sink in. Maybe you won't make the same mistakes as I did. 

That word, by the way, is "Nuzlocke".

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