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Where Would Your Character Go to Retire?

September 12, 2008

If you knew you were logging out for the last time, where would your character go to retire?

This question posed by Wow Insider prompted a journey down memory lane as I contemplated where my story began, where it has led me, and where I would want it to end.  Stories are meant to be shared, so if you would like to hear mine, feel free to settle in for a few minutes and listen to my tale.

My adventure began in the summer of 2005.  Before that time I had never heard of an MMO or RPG and I had never even played a video game save Mario Brothers.  I was as close to a true noob as one can get.

Horde races frightened me so, although my hubby played Horde side, I decided to roll Alliance.  I knew nothing about the classes but the description of Paladin appealed to me.  I clicked the create character option and Aleathea was born.

Aleathea

Aleathea

I experienced a stroke of beginners luck and created a character so perfect that to this day there is nothing I would change about her.  With golden hair, intelligent green eyes and a  slightfully wistful expression she is as close to perfection as an avatar can be.

I created her on the pvp server, Eredar.  When I zoned into the starting area I was astounded to learn that all the little mages and warriors and rogues running around were other real people.  I was fascinated by the concept of an MMO and spent my first few days buffing everyone I could find.  The world of Azeroth was a fascinating place and every discovery was new and exciting.

I made my first friend at level six.  His name has been lost to time, but I recall he was a warrior.  We did everything together and eventually he decided to start a guild.  He named it Teufel Hunden – he was in the Marines.  I designed the tabard and we scrounged up enough people to sign the charter.  Thus my first guild was born.  We regularly had two people on line (us).  A few weeks later we were absorbed into a large guild of 10 people.  He and I continued playing together for a few months and then one day he disappeared.  I never knew what happened to him, I imagine he was deployed.

The guild eventually dissolved and over the course of many months I soloed my way up to the fifties.  One night in Un’Goro Crater I made my second friend.  He was a mage named Merovingian.  It’s funny how something as simple as a decision to accept an invite to group for quests can turn into a long term friendship.   He and I became fast friends and eventually he got me into his guild.  Long after he left the game we kept up the friendship through email.

His guild was comprised of mostly level sixties (the level cap back then) and I felt I had arrived at the big leagues.  I ran all the level sixty dungeons with them and gradually I began to learn a few things.  Up to this point I had no idea how stats worked.  I just equipped anything that was rare quality.  They were kind enough to teach me about stats and I owe them a great debt.

On one memorable occasion a friendly guildie stayed up with me all night helping me grind the last half a level of experience I needed to reach level sixty.  Two and a half years later I still remember the experience as if it were yesterday. It was Easter Sunday morning and the sun was just rising when, after almost a year, I reached level sixty.  I have since leveled four more characters to the cap, but I have never recaptured the joy of that moment and to this day it remains one of the most memorable moments of my WoW life.

I was happier than I had ever been as I finally had a home and friends with whom I felt I belonged.  Unfortunately, it was not to last.  A few weeks after I reached level sixty the guild broke up.  The hard core players wanted to progress faster and moved on to a large raiding guild.  The casual players were torn between following their hard core friends and remaining loyal to the guild.  Merovingian was not going anywhere and I refused to leave him.  The guild slowly died as more and more people left.  Eventually Merovingian stopped playing and I was left alone. 

I was so distraught that I almost deleted Aleathea but my hubby stopped me.  By this time he had rerolled Alliance on the pve server, Draka, and he invited me to join him.  At this time realm transfers had not yet been introduced so I left Aleathea on Eredar and rerolled a new paladin on Draka.  This is the reason I have two Paladins today.

Ironically, two weeks after my new paladin hit sixty realm transfers opened up and I brought Aleathea over to Draka.  After the sad experience with my last guild I did not have the heart to join another and so my hubby and I duoed all the content we could and pugged the rest.  Eventually I got tired of pugging and, although I never expected to recapture the sense of belonging I had once enjoyed, I decided it was time to consider joining a guild again.

One evening I saw a mage named Mordinnas advertising in general chat (there was no LFG channel in those days) that he was looking for more to help kill some dude in the Plaguelands. Normally I stayed clear of large groups as I was very shy in those days, but I had the quest and decided this once to make an exception.  I joined the group and afterward Mordinnas whispered me that his guild was desperately in need of Paladins (they had none) and asked if I would be interested in joining. 

In the preceding weeks I had received many such whispers which I had always politely declined.  This time the timing was right – and something else prompted me to accept.  To this day I’m not sure how, but I knew it was the right thing to do.  The guild was two weeks old when I joined. 

As I reflect on that moment I am amazed at how such small decisions such as accepting an invite can quite literally change your life.  My husband soon joined the guild as well and eventually he took over the GM position.  Our guild has been together since July of 2006.  Many of us have been together since the beginning and a few of us can trace our first meeting back to that very night when we did the quest in the Plaguelands.  We have met several of our guildies in real life and even vacationed with Mordinnas and his wife last summer.  These friends are as real to us as any we have met in the Real World, and they have had a tremendous influence on the person I am today.

Through the years since I created Aleathea I have created many other characters.  I have five level seventies now and, while I enjoy playing them all, none of the others experience has quite equaled that of Aleathea.  There is something magical about your first, and Aleathea was my first in so many ways.

Occasionally I travel back to Elwyn Forest and every time I do, it feels a bit like coming home.  The sounds of the forest take me back to my early days when the world was fresh and new and every encounter held a surprise.  My beautiful Aleathea has come a long way.  She has experienced depths of friendship I would never have imagined possible.  She has overcome challenges that have strengthened me and helped develop the person I am today.  Through my experiences with her I have learned much about life, about friendship, about courage and persistence.

So, to answer the original question, if the time came to end this story and retire Aleathea, I would return to the place where I always go to rest, to remember, to recapture the magic.  I would roam the forest of Elwyn enjoying once more the sights and sounds that greeted me at the dawn of my adventure.  I would solo a village of merlocs, a final act of revenge for the countless deaths I suffered at their hands.  I would fish once more in the stream beside my favorite waterfall and listen to the water splash against the rocks. 

Then I would make my way to the Lion’s Pride Inn of Goldshire.  I would drink a pint of ale with my old friend Farley the Innkeeper and laugh at the memories of my early days.  Finally, I would settle into my favorite chair in front of the fireplace.  Lulled by the crackle of the branches and the mesmerizing dance of the flames I would drift off to sleep, and though Aleathea’s story would come to an end, she would live on forever in my dreams.

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