Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2.36. World of Lovecraft

"Tree of Life Form"
Artwork by UnidColor

Sitting With a Tree

The tank situation was especially tight, as always. I was bending to the whim of Ater's reduced schedule as he continued his job search, so harping on the remaining tanks to continue to show became a daily ritual. Of my current lineup, one of the newer faces had been a real life-saver. Rocraw had come to us fairly early in The Burning Crusade, just as the 25-Man was getting off the ground in tier 4. Rocraw had a pleasant demeanor, was kind and friendly, and had a propensity to drop everything he was doing to help folks in the guild. All these traits allowed him to acclimate into the guild quite effectively.

Rocraw was especially crucial to the mind-numbing attunement quests which we repeated ad infinitum for players wishing to raid. He'd gladly drop what he was doing and drive us through another Mechanar or Arcatraz if it meant new, sharp folks willing to raid. His cheerful attitude and dedicated loyalty was a shining star in the guild, even in the face of impending roster hang-ups and defectors. When Rocraw caught wind that I was struggling with recruits, he'd always fire back a message to cheer me up,

[W From][Rowcraw]: I'm here 'till the end, Kerulak!

Rocraw's presence was especially helpful in these months when Ater's schedule grew more erratic than what I was used to. Rocraw, alongside Kurst, made up the brunt of the tanking warriors in the guild. Beyond them, I called on to Dalans to tank whenever possible. Bretthew had been another option, but since the hacking incident, had been reduced to playing other people's alts just to keep the 25-Man roster full. Throughout this hyper sporadic fluctuation of tanks, players with the longest streak of consistency were my pillar to lean on. Rocraw was one such pillar. With other roster changes spiraling around me in a twister, it was a relief to know that there were still a few folks who had my back.

Now as it happened, Rocraw was not the only new face that I came to rely on amid roster changes. On the healing side of the fence, we'd gained a restoration druid about the same time: Cattledrive. Joining us near the start of The Burning Crusade, Cattledrive was a friendly, outgoing gal who loved to heal and demonstrated a similar amount of guild pride in keeping us on track. If players needed to be healed through dungeons in order to get attuned, she'd offer her services up in an instant. She, like Rocraw, clocked a lot of hours in-game -- this translated to way-above-average availability for assisting others. In this era of druids and their changing function in raids, I'd lost many restoration druids to alternate rolls. Like Breginna, I was ever thankful that Cattledrive chose to ingrain her healing roots. At every opportunity, Cattledrive was rotated into progression and the rest of the 25-Man team was as thankful for another resto druid as I was.

Topping the list of people thankful for seeing Cattle rotated in was Rocraw.

In their joint effort to support Descendants of Draenor's raiders, Rocraw and Cattledrive slowly began to fall into a similar schedule. They were on at the same times, running folks through dungeons together, Rocraw charging into a pack of bloodwarders while Cattledrive hung back, flowering the heroic 5-man with blooms of regrowth. Over time, they became inseparable. Whenever Rocraw was in a 25-Man progression raid, helping us fight through Vashj or practice the grueling mechanics of Kael'thas, Cattledrive was right there beside him. Outside of raids, they had their own Vent channel, leveled alts together, and both jumped when called upon for more attunement help. They were the quintessential boyfriend/girlfriend team in DoD, and it wasn't long before Rocraw had confided to several folks that he was moving in with her. Continuing to put the guild before himself, Rocraw made certain to keep me apprised of all the moving dates and did everything he could to rearrange his schedule so that he'd still be present to tank. I couldn't ask for a more loyal duo than Cattledrive and Rocraw. By Hyjal Summit, they were both deeply entrenched in the roster, comprising two of the many core raiders that were both well played, and geared to the teeth.

Which is about the time that Cattledrive went missing.

Looking at the Puzzle Box

BlizzCon 2007 Official Poster
Copyright © Blizzard Entertainment
Turtleman was certifiably pissed off.

He and Tigoraga, a hunter who'd been with us since Vanilla, were spouting some profanities into guild chat, directed at a certain healing druid. Thankfully, she wasn't online at the moment.

I shot over a tell.

[W To][Turtleman]: Is there something I need to know?

Turtle clamped up.

[W To][Turtleman]: I'm sure you have a very good reason to drag this gal's name through the mud while she's not here to defend herself. Mind telling me what that is?

We took it to Vent.

"Tig and I are just pissed off because she's two-faced, y'know?"

No, I didn't 'know'. "Keep going."

"Cattle was supposed to pick up some BlizzCon tickets for all three of us. We had all the arrangements in place, I had my travel all set up...everything was great."

"Ok, and...?"

"And she just went ahead and decided she wasn't going to give us our tickets! For no reason at all! She's just going on her own, or whatever."

"Wait. Let me get this straight. All three of you planned to go together, she bought the tickets on your behalf, and is now...out-of-the-blue...refusing to give you the tickets you paid for?"

"It's fuckin' stupid! Totally two-faced."

This didn't make any sense at all. There had to be a rational explanation.

"Was there a falling out between you guys? A specific event that made this whole BlizzCon thing go south? I mean, did you say or do anything to cause her to change her mind like this?"

"Nothing, Hanzo. I can't think of anything we ever did. She just woke up one day and decided we weren't going."

"But this doesn't make any sense, Turtle...it's a story with a missing part. Surely, there must be something that happened to cause her to change her mind. Overnight, no less."

He took a deep breath, "I dunno what that is, but I'd sure love to know, too."

I stared at my troll priest Zanjina while lost in thought, cycling through the events that Turtleman had laid bare. The story wasn't coming together quite right, there was still some key piece of information he was leaving out. I pressed my Vent talk key.

"Remind me again why Cattledrive was the one who was buying the tickets for all of you? I mean, how did you all decide on this plan as a group?"

"Well, she was buying for Tig and her, initially. And then Tig invited me to come along, and so I said I could, and then he had her get another one for me."

"...Ok, and why was Cattle buying for Tig? Like, what's the relationship there? How do they know each other?"

"He's dating her, Kerulak. Was dating her, anyway..."

The missing piece.

I thanked him for the story, reminded him to try to keep his temper in check, and went about my business in Outland. I tossed the puzzle piece back into the pile, and never once gave the story a second thought, never once glancing at where that particular piece fit into the entire puzzle. 

I should have.
"Orc Warrior"
Artwork by CorruptRecluse

Confessions of a Warrior

"She left me," Rocraw sent over in a tell. "She's not responding to me at all. Won't answer my calls. She won't reply to any tells when she's online."

"What's going on?" I asked

"I don't know. She just...won't talk to me anymore."

"So...are you moving out?"

A few seconds went by before the answer came in; a testament to a person dealing with an ending relationship. The haze that blankets your thought process, makes it difficult for you to respond to questioning, as the broken relationship is always there, always lingering, weighing you down.

"I guess."

"I'm really sorry this happened, man. I suppose it was never meant to be." I tried to swing things around, in the hopes that distracting him would ease the weight, "Maybe getting back into Hyjal will keep your mind off it."

"I can't be online when she is," he replied, "it's too painful."

So much for that idea.

"Well, chief, I really do feel bad for you and the situation you're in. If I can do anything, will you let me know?"

"Yep. Thanks, Kerulak."

There was nothing I could do for him. Of course. The relationship had gone south for an unknown reason that, to this day, I can't put my finger on. But I had the signs in front of me. The incident with Turtleman and Tigoraga should have been enough of an incongruity to cause me to take a step back, take notice of the big picture. Hearing about the BlizzCon ticket fiasco provided clarity to the situation at that moment in time, explaining the tirade unraveling in guild-chat. But that was just one small piece of the puzzle; its final assembled form was one I failed to take into consideration. Behavior that was so unorthodox, so unplanned and without logic or reason should have set off some kind of alarm in the back of my head. And perhaps it did, but I was too busy gearing Zanjina to take notice. Or perhaps it only served as temporary amusement, causing me to disregarded it as unimportant.

I mean, let's face it. Hundreds of thousands of QQers made daily proclamations to the tune of "guild leadership is srs bzness LOL" on the forums...how could they be wrong?

The more I believed the masses, denouncing my approach to guild leadership as "overkill", the less frequently I flipped that puzzle box over to examine the picture. I didn't see the importance that one piece held in the entire puzzle. Each fleeting moment it occurred, I tilted my head upon a particular revelation, thinking, "Huh. That's weird!" yet failed to explore why. I stepped off the curb to cross the busy intersection while the bright white walking man went dark, replaced by a glowing red hand, and I paid no attention. I walked right out into oncoming traffic. In order to get a handle of every facet of guild leadership, I was going to have to train myself to pay attention to this "feeling", this alarm sounding off in the back of my head and gnawing at my gut once the big picture was revealed...

...this "red flag".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hehe. Yeah, been there, done that. We even had a couple have an in-game wedding (non-binding of course). Once the officers got wind of it, we arranged a um, surprise.

Nothing says wedding present like 20 Horde crashing an Alliance wedding.

PvP anyone?