All by myself

I am writing this in a semi state of terror. It’s only semi because I’m also in a state of euphoria. Sort of like being hurtled from the top of a building at exactly the same moment you find a great deal of money in your pocket.

The terror is non-Wow related. We have been invaded by bees. They are trying to set up home in the bathroom. I admire their hygiene but not the way they waste hot water. And they don’t flush Not good. Trips to the bathroom are sociable affairs. I make husband go in first to search, Eddie stands guard at the top of the stairs & I wait outside the door shaking. Fun. We then run back down the stairs & barricade ourselves in the living room. We only have to keep this up until Monday…

Onto the euphoria. I’ve rediscovered the love for my level 82 ret Paladin.  I’ve been neglecting her terribly over the past couple of months  & feeling really guilty because she was my first ever character. I’ve done it all with her.  Apart from dungeons, raids, grouping of any kind, professions, achievements and skills. All I tell you. We had our early days in the Abbey (like the Beatles) & Goldshire. Lots of duel invitations I declined with a disapproving frown at the numbskull jumping up & down in front of me. Lots of marathon distance runs up and down the road because you couldn’t get a mount until 40. Then spending all my money on that very mount and riding skills at 40 only to discover as a Pally I got one anyway. Went to bed rather upset that night (as did husband because I’d actually borrowed the gold from him). Early days in Hellfire Peninsula when I couldn’t seem to kill anything & was sure my experience bar was going backwards. Then the arrival of a blessed patch that completely overpowered me for several weeks during which I strutted the land like a god on earth. But once I got to 80 it all turned flat for me. I hated not having an experience bar. I felt like there was no purpose to life. Terema my paladin became very brooding & nihilistic –  disturbingly so for a character in a game. I was worried about her and considered an intervention. But she only knew some dwarves and they were always drunk. Eventually I decided to leave her in Stormwind in an inn while I levelled my draenai shaman who still seemed to have a zest for life (and hooves to die for). And then I discovered groups and dungeons, and my healer, tank, arcane mage, warlock etc. I started thinking only in terms of the holy trinity of tank, dps & healer and what I wanted to be and what I could be. The WoW life I had lived as Terema became a barely remembered dream (all this over a few weeks – it’s been a roller coaster!). Until today.

Don’t know why but I had a compulsion to play her. Could be that my husband has now reached 85 on his warrior & we’ve always previously been neck & neck levelling. He’s talking about Mount Hyjal and everything he’s seen and done there like a veteran from war. His battleworn features gaze off into the distance as he reminisces about the baby bears he’s thrown from trees.I was jealous (who doesn’t want to hurl a bear from a tree?)

Plus I think I wanted some alone time after the group last night. Yes slight digression for me to talk about the group last night. It’s either that or I go back to swaying and gibbering in the corner. I was playing Androse my healer & giving healbot another go. I never will again. It is terrifying to me. I cannot get my head around clicking different buttons on the mouse for different heals. They seem to be slower that way. Time changes or something. Clever addon to do that but not helpful when I’m in a panic. So I reverted to my usual highlight target, click on button etc and using the keyboard to move around. I know. I am a travesty as a Wow player. I’m also one day going to prove that Shockadin is a viable dps spec. Give me a Wow rule & I will break it (apart from all your’s Blizzzard I promise- cross my heart).

Anyway I was healing away in Sunken Temple. All my healing & dps forays are done these days with an eye to eventually tanking the place as Sparci & I was thinking this one isn’t so bad (unlike the steps in Zulfarrak which I’m currently seeing a therapist about). But the tank wasn’t very friendly. Kept running off way ahead of us & not really waiting for us to catch up. Oh well I thought. At least the healing is easy. Until one of the last bosses – something went wrong. It’s the one when the tank turns bad like Angel turning into Angelus and you can’t heal him & if the dps don’t notice they run the risk of killing him (I admit I nearly did that once before playing my warlock & the healer gave me a row). Anyway they did  the same (see healer from the other dungeon – lots of people are as mindless as me- I’m not the stupidest person in the world after all). The tank was dead. Dead as a doornail (copyright Dickens and the Muppets). I had a little moment of panic that quickly escalated to sheer horror when two of the dps died and my health started disappearing quicker than someone whose life support machine has been knocked off. For what felt like a good five minutes I forgot all the damage limitation abilities I possess. I even forgot my ability to move my character. It was awful. But then – sort of like in Always when Richard Dreyfuss’ ghost starts helping Holly Hunter fly the plane – so something stepped in (spirit of the first holy paladin ever or something) & reminded me about blessings, heals, crusader strike and that thing in front of me called a keyboard. Before I knew it I was slinging hammers and exorcists around the place like a priest with a part time job as a builder. I saved the day. As the tank reappeared (he’d corpse run because he had no faith in me, the poor irreligious child) I was standing victorious over the dead boss. I quickly quaffed a blue (ahh quaffing – did anyone play an old text MUD called Realms of Despair. Quaffing was very important in that game & I get all nostalgic about it when I quaff a can of coke) & ressed the remaining two dps. “Sorry that you died guys,” I apologised – waiting for the “no worries”, “I made a mistake,”” “You were awesome oh great one” etc. Nothing. Nobody said a word. Why are people like that? Why can’t people be nice to each other? I always say “no worries” when I die & the healer apologises. I probably even will in real life when the end comes and the doctor looks down at me shaking his head. I always make a joke of it (I’ve got some great one liners saved up for the end) . I always comfort and reassure.  I see myself as “The diffuser of tension” in a group. I’m hoping Blizzard introduces that as an achievement because I am odds on for a realm first for that one. But noone else seems to care. Silently we finished the dungeon and everyone disappeared one by one without a backwards glance. “Bye,” I whispered to an empty dungeon as a solitary tear rolled down my face (ok totally got carried away there- but if they ever make a film that’s definitely the heart wrenching scene that wins the actress the oscar).

So today I thought – no groups – at least until later (have to tank later or husband will think his prayers have finally been answered and he no longer has to heal- can’t be having that). Before logging in I downloaded an addon for a Ret Paladin that tells me what buttons to hit for max dps. I have one for Luxmi the shaman and its transformed my play as her. I’m pretty good at researching rotations but really bad at remembering them – so the research is all rather pointless. The shaman addon though has been amazing & this one for Terema was no different. I picked up a quest and went off to kill some mobs. The buttons flashed & told me what to do. Disbelievingly I hit them (you mean I don’t open with exorcism, you mean I hit that inquisition button etc). Something in me told me to trust, to let go (jedi-like), to let the flashy buttons take over. And boy did they. My dps climbed then climbed again reaching a number recount had put away in a cupboard thinking it would never be used. I felt euphoric! Crazy with happiness I decided no guild should be without my awesomeness and started looking for a level 25 guild with lots of people. The first one I wrote to asking to join had no officers available to invite me in. “Their loss,” I thought rather cockily for someone who can’t play without a flashy button telling me what to do, but my ego had gone crazy at this point. So undaunted I found another guild and sent a whisper. No reply. Onto a third – this time trying to keep the slightly desperate tone out of my message. My ego was crashing back down to refamiliarise itself with terra firma. Self doubt was assailing me. Am I a pariah for not being in a   guild in my 80s? Will I be looked upon with suspicion? Actually I had been in a guild of sorts but it was just one my husband inherited from a desperate benefactor accidentally (we joined this guild & the guild leader – a total stranger to us- got totally fed up & left one day giving the leadership to my husband. Very odd.) It’s called The Heroes of Azeroth and is such a good name we have vowed to keep it going even though I can’t imagine us ever being able to run it properly. So we’ve pretty much just left that guild in the capable hands of our alts – just minding the name and a bank full of low level greens we are keeping for some reason. Basically Terema has never been in a proper guild. One with people and stuff. Anyway I struck gold (…possibly) with the third guild I whispered and lo and behold got an invite. I was over the moon. Euphoria phase 2. They were very friendly – though called me mate quite alot (weird one that- I always think mate is for men & my name & appearance all show I’m female. Are ret Pallys known as somewhat masculine  females just because we wear plate. I hate these cultural stereotypes that so plague us womenfolk).

Then a guildee whispered me and asked if I wanted to do a cataclysm dungeon. This is it I thought. Life has come full circle. Terema my first character- soloer for ever, left alone and neglected while I discovered dungeons, will now with the wisdom of my knowledge built up over the years (aka weeks) enter a cataclysm dungeon and emerge victorious. “Yes!” I said excitedly, only slightly put off by the fact he had also said “hic” in his request. I thought maybe it was a joke and I applauded myself on finding guildmates with such cutting edge humour.

20 mins later (dps queues hey) we entered the dungeon. He immediately requested sometime to sort his bags out. Why didn’t he do that while we were waiting in the queue?  I wondered if they would notice we were from the same guild. I hoped not, whistling innocently & looking at my feet. Eventually we got going. The first boss was the one with the chains. We all died. I had no idea what to do. “I take it you don’t know the tactics,” said the tank rather accusingly I thought for someone who was the first to die. “No,” I said chirpily (I try to deflect hostility with almost childlike friendliness – I’m sure it doesn’t irritate people at all…) “Well you need to do blah blah blah,” said the tank. Something about hitting chains & then running. I found it hard to concentrate because I couldn’t find the dungeon entrance to run back in. I hate that. I feel so embarrassed admitting I’m still a ghost. I  hope after I die I don’t get lost on my way into the light – who do you sheepishly tell then? In Poltergeist they told that medium but I thought she was quite scary. Anyway the tank ressed me and honest to god I could feel her sighing through the words “X wants to res you”. “Thank you,” I said when I was back in, my chirpiness reaching hysterical heights. We started again. This time we attacked the chains & ran but I still died because I’d taken a bit of a pummeling & my health wasn’t too great (I felt kind of flu-like if you really want to know but didn’t like to complain). My guild mate also died. I sent him a little whisper saying “oh well” as in “Come on, we’re in this together etc”. But nothing. I think he was still sorting out his bags. I was ressed again & we moved onto the next fight. But again something happened (spirit of the first ever ret paladin maybe- I think they’re all standing behind me as I fight drawing straws as to who has the unenviable task of helping me now). I hit my stride, my little fingers few over buttons, my mouseclicking was a whirr of activity, I unfailingly did what the flashing buttons told me to do. We were onto the next boss by then- Corla. I fought well & we defeated her easily. But my guild mate had done something silly apparently in the stream of light (I didn’t like to ask) and was harshly rebuked by the tank. Nothing was said about me but I knew deep down I had pleased them & a gold star was winging its way to me through the Azeroth mail. So onto the next boss- the one the tank has to drag around the place. Something went wrong & two dps died (one of them yes you guessed it my guildmate.) By now I was scratching furiously at my screen to erase the guild name we both shared & getting ready to deny all knowledge and blame it on a glitch). The tank & I fought on and brought the boss down. I checked recount. It considered refusing to pop up believing my account has been hacked by some uber player but then relented and showed me the numbers. Euphoria phase 3. I am a born ret pally I thought (as well as a bravetank of course). By now I was running shoulder to shoulder with the tank. We were comrades in arms. I cast an affectionate glance over to her – she didn’t look my way & I admired her focus. Her and me – we didn’t need social niceties. We were in this together bringing this dungeon to its knees. The healer followed on loyally with the two other dps bringing up the rear. Then a vote kick popped up. They wanted to get rid of my guildmate for being such a poor player. And he really was. Still though- I couldn’t kick a guildmate. Not while I was on probation anyway! Even though he had annoyingly yelled “gogo”at the tank one fight earlier & got called a noob. I took the decision to abstain & let fate decide. He was booted. Fate didn’t like him. Onto another fight. Something went wrong and the tank died again. My comrade. Time for tears later I told myself as I went into battle as both mini tank & dps – even healing & cleansing at one point. The ultimate multiskiller. We survived and the tank was ressed. She said nothing but I reminded myself that we didn’t need words and on we went. I can barely remembe the final fight. All I know is there was heroism and sacrifice. We dug deep, found strength within us that our stats declared we didn’t have and won out. It was amazing. Euphoria phase 4. Group hug I thought, group hug. I turned around. I was on my own. They’d all gone. Not even one goodbye. I threw down the friendship bracelet I had been crocheting for the tank in between fights and left the dungeon –  solo once again.

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