|Headhunter does what he does best|
on the Deathwing-US Horde Auction House,
Rich Ater PennybagsI collected up my raiding paraphernalia for the evening. Marks of Illidari were exchanged for flasks to help take the edge off of raiding costs, and I refreshed my stack of mana and health potions. We were 3/5 in Mount Hyjal, stunned with the amount of progress we saw over the last several weeks. So much so, it even caught Blain off guard, and he had to address me about it -- but it wasn't for the reasons you might guess.
"If we keep up at this pace, we may have to adjust our plans somewhat."
"Azgalor's practically a done deal," Ater joined in.
"There's still a major chunk of people on the roster that haven't picked up their PvP trinket."
"Remind me again why this is important?" I butted in.
Blain wasn't even concerned with Azgalor, his mind was focused on a more sinister threat: Archimonde.
"If he fears a bunch of us into Doomfire, that trinket is going to be their last opportunity to save themselves. And the rest of the raid."
"I'm dumping some more gold into the vault for guild repairs," said Ater, changing the subject.
"Thank you again, Mr. Rich Money Pennybags." Somewhere along the line, Ater had let it slip that his family was in the oil business, which the guild immediately leapt on and like an undead rogue cannibalizing his prey. As it so happened, he was never shy of gold in-game, either.
"You are never out of gold. What's the deal with you, anyway? You best friends with Headhunter or something?"
Headhunter was a well-known gold farmer on Deathwing-US, having constantly been at the heart of swaying the economy to and fro during both Vanilla and TBC. Some were annoyed by his constant stranglehold on the Auction House. Others, as it turned out, used it to their advantage.
"Headhunter's a great friend to have," said Annihilation, joining the conversation, "I've bought gold from him several times. Made life much easier during that High Warlord Grind!"
I'd heard rumors this was true, at least as far back as Vanilla, but never got the official, on-the-record confession. And he wasn't the only one guilty of buying gold.
"Is that true, Anni? Damn, man! Way to totally ignore the the ToS!"
"That's why Graulm was pissed off at us," Ater added, "Well, one of the reasons, anyway..."
"Graulm knew you'd bought gold?"
"Yeah, he found out at some point and got pretty pissed off. Chewed me out, actually. I wasn't setting a very good example."
Suddenly, the Graulm/Ater animosity was painted with a new spectrum of color, no longer the black and white conclusion I'd settled on. Blaming the entire fallout on a difference of opinion regarding Xorena and Khaevil now seemed shortsighted upon reflection. Nevermind the fact that Ater had completely slipped under my radar on purchasing in-game gold. Tsk, tsk.
"You know you're going to Hell for buying gold."
Ater laughed, "Did you know that he's scared of you?"
I paused a moment. "Who?"
"Why the hell would he be scared of me? I don't even know him. Never said a single word to him!"
Ater chuckled as he laid out the details, "Yeah, I dunno, either. But back when you were on Kerulak, he thought you 'ran shit' on Deathwing. Figured that you knew what was going on at all times, and was aware of his little gold making business."
"I can't imagine what would've given him that impression."
"Dunno, but he's super paranoid. For awhile there he was treading lightly in fear of your 'impending wrath'. Like at any point you were gonna turn him over to Blizzard and end his gold-selling days."
I just stared at my screen in stunned silence.
"...huh. That is...very bizarre."
I wracked my brain, trying to think of what possible clue I could have slipped Headhunter's way, either accidentally or on purpose, to give him the impression I was The Lord Ruler of Deathwing-US. The truth was far more amusing...and pathetic. I barely felt like I had control over anything. Most any of our successes had come from directives handed to me by Graulm or Ater. I must have said or done or acted in some way as to give our server's famous gold farmer the creeps. I wished I knew what it was. Giving off that impression of being in control worked wonders. Being led by a person with no confidence or self-esteem was like trying to cut into a steak with a wet noodle. So whatever it was that I was doing, perhaps it was working. If I could intimidate a random player on the server whose only goal was to accrue a massive amount of virtual wealth simply by existing...then perhaps I was following the right instincts in my quest to fulfill the role of guild leader.
I ran up to Zephyr in the World's End Tavern and clicked on her. She raised her arms and evoked a portal sound effect; in a flash, I was in the Caverns of Time, running toward the Hyjal instance. I chuckled to myself, reflecting back on the story that had just been revealed to me. Maybe I had a knack for this leadership thing after all. My hope was that the reasons for my success would make themselves clear.
Success by accident was not a very viable long-term strategy.