The title is borrowed from Lewis Carroll
Real life has hit me pretty hard the last couple of weeks, what with having to relocate for my husband’s job, looking for somewhere to live in a city I’m completely unfamiliar with as well as dealing with job interviews for myself. So when I read this post by Matty from Sugar and Blood I knew I had to respond.
I was thinking it would be cool to do a “road trip” or mount-rally sort of thing. Go from here to there, and do things, and take screenshots, or something, and not fly.
Also, I would like to know your favorite places of ‘former glory’ in the game, or a moment where you did something and it was a pivotal moment for you in game, something your character would tell his/her imaginary grandchildren if it could.
As a child, I would sit crossed legged at the feet of both my Grandmamma and my Great Grandmamma listening to their stories. Sometimes they would re-tell the fairy tales they’d grown up with, Baba Yaga and her chickenfooted hut chasing children through the forests was a personal favourite or they’d recount details of their own lives, stories of a world so far removed from what I knew, it might as well have been fiction. They introduced me to books I’d never heard of, in languages I couldn’t even pronounce the name of, let alone speak. Thanks to them, whenever I use eggs in the kitchen I crush the shell into tiny pieces so no witch can ever use it as a boat. I never leave a white table cloth on over night either. Little reflexes, that once learnt stay with you forever. You might not believe the why but you still do it all the same. They taught me to cook, everything from goulash to crispy apple doughnuts, yorkshire puddings flecked with herbs to delicate macaroons and left me with a life long love of poetry. Without their stories, both true and fantasy I wouldn’t be me. I think that’s partly why this prompt stood out, what we choose to tell and the reasons behind the choosing say so much about us.
It’s the little things that stand out the most. The heat, oh the heat. Emerging from the last fringe of trees that shelter the border between Ashenvale and the Barrens only to be scorched by the afternoon sun. Barely out of the shade and yet already, I could feel the sweat pooling at the back of my neck, trapped by the heavy weight of my hair. There were whispers that just like the gentle Lady Moon favoured our Night Elf friends, the angry Sun sided with the hot blooded Orcs and Taurens who made these barren plains their home. Already our party was nervous, tensions rising like the temperature as we headed deeper into enemy territory.
My own father told me when I was your age that war and courtship have much in common. You and the enemy dance, one move after another. After a while, you come to know each other, to fall into a familiar pattern like lovers. Step after step, you waltz together whilst all around you, buildings fall, broken down by shot and shell. You pirouette over rotting corpses, spin over wailing women and keening children but all the while your eyes never leave your partner’s.
As a child, I thought it nothing more than the drunken musing of a man who went to war and never quite came back, not whole at any rate. There though in the Barrens, with our tents and our tensions and the heat, I found myself wondering if there was some truth in it all.
I couldn’t sleep, too hot for that. Even stripped down to my shirt I felt as if my skin was boiling. That at any moment, I’d erupt like a volcano, steam and blood spurting from the wound. Looking for some shade, I wandered a way from camp and that’s when I heard the music strike up. The first dance was beginning, it’s beat that of war drums, of callused hands smacking against stretched hides. As I listened, staring up at the full moon, the tempo changed, the beat building up and up until it just ….. stopped. Ending abruptly, it’s challenge offered, “Dare you come and join the dance?”. As I made my way back to our encampment, I knew they’d heard the music too. Our move came to the sound of armoured men, boots beating time in the dust, in the shrill shriek of swords being pulled from scabbards and in the orders being yelled.
The overture was almost at an end, soon all we were left with was screaming and then silence drifted through the Barrens like tumbleweed.
When I first started playing WoW, battlegrounds and the honour system had yet to be added. The only PvP available was rough and ready and random. At the time I played on a PvE server, partly because I wasn’t sure what to expect from a PvP server, with hindsight I think I imagined some massive orgy of frenzied players drunk on blood all slaughtering each other all day long (as it turns out the reality was rather disappointing). They say that the first time is always the sweetest and as with my first kiss and first flight, my first tentative steps into player versus player combat stand out like they happened only yesterday (even though the screenshot below will be seven years old in nine days time).
At the time, Crossroads was pretty much a home from home. There was something exotic about the Barrens, a thrill of danger about it. If you got caught out, there was no where safe to run, no guards to protect you, no sanctuaries to hide behind. Sometimes we were the pursuers, swamping the town like rising flood waters, impossible to stop because of sheer numbers. Then the music changed, perhaps someone hit the flight master or maybe the guards swarmed us, either way then we’d be running for our lives. Spreading out like fragmented bones rolled from the bag. Hiding in the shadows beneath trees, running to earth like frightened rabbits as we sought safety in the tunnels. There was something fluid about the whole affair, battles were lost and won in a heartbeat. One minute we were triumphant, kings of all we surveyed, next we were desperate and hunted, resorting to ressing inside Taurens.
From Ashenvale to Orgrimmar, we weren’t constrained by anything as small or insignificant as a map, we fought, we played and then we, winners and losers danced on.
That was what drew me into WoW. I honestly think that if the only PvP I’d ever been exposed to was just that of Battlegrounds and Arenas, I wouldn’t be writing this now. Of course as with all things, those halcyon days came to end, destroyed by the introduction of battlegrounds. Our server had a much higher Alliance population and so whilst the Horde got instant queues and could premade, we had hours of sitting around outside Warsong Gulch hoping we’d get lucky. In the end, we decided to try out a PvP server and quickly discovered that this time around, we had the instant queues and the premades but still my heart belongs in the Barrens. When I finally decide that this is the end, that’s where I’ll be, sitting in my old vantage point, looking down over Crossroads remembering the good times.