How many times have I told the Ulduar story now? I talked a bit here about why it mattered so much to me. I included some pictures from failed two-man attemtps here. Short re-cap: I started WoW the day Ulduar came out. I wanted to go! Time passed, and it became clear that some of my health issues would keep me from being able to full participate in game content, as well as some social anxiety issues that stem from those health issues. But I also wanted to Ulduar more than ever as I became more familiar with the lore. My one big regret about leaving WoW this year was going to be never getting to turn in the reply code.
I finally accepted that I could at least finally see the place, even if I didn’t get to turn in the code (though that’s what I wanted more than anything!) if I’d ask a friend to help. I would get my friend Takk, who is one of my best dudes, to go through with my husband (my bestest dude) and me. He agreed, and we were off to Ulduar!
Mat (often known as Apple, sometimes known as Mapple) was on when we all got ready to go in, and as he is the third of my best dudes, I got him in on it! Me and my three best dudes… off to Ulduar! This would be great! Not perfect. No reply code. But I was going to finally see it! “It” meaning “something past Flame Leviathan”. I think Takk had seen this before because I’m pretty sure he’s seen everything, but this was mostly a new adventure.
Okay, Mat had possibly seen it before, too. Or maybe he just picked that Starcaller title up from the Auction House. You never know.
I wish I had screenshots of all three nights and everyone who came along, but keep in mind we thought we were just going to run through this in a night or two. My husband and I are very experienced in two-manning raid content once we outlevel and outgear it, and that’s usually doable in five or six hours. No, we hadn’t managed Ulduar, but now we had a healer and great dps along!
Clearly, we were drawing strength from our rainbows.
We made it through Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, Ignis, XT-002, Kologarn, the Crazy Cat Lady, Thorim, and Hodir that first night. Thorim and Hodir were done by just two druids and our pally healer.
The next night, I knew this was the only other night Takk could join us this week. I was determined to get the rest of it done! We took down Freya after wandering into her asscheeks (though we never found her chest) and the Assembly of Iron. Then we went for Mimiron.
Okay, you know the button that says DO NOT PUSH THE BUTTON? We knew exactly what would happen if you did push it. We agreed that you can’t just not push it when you bring people who possibly could really die from trying to resist, and so we told Takk to go ahead and PUSH THE BUTTON! We will wipe and just do it again!
Takk’s Internet died. DO NOT PUSH THAT DAMNED BUTTON!
So we pushed on without him. The three of us got to the last phase of Mimiron (without hardmode) and discovered we needed ranged dps for his head.
This is where our final Rainbow Bear came in! (Yes, it’s a very limited membership guild. Bears need lots of space.) Asherrylie wasn’t on her Rainbow Bears character, but she is a member, so we were an all Rainbow Bear group for a while. When we put out a call for help on Twitter, she was the first to answer.
Mimiron went down FAST! General Vezax wasn’t too much of a problem. We had to break for a while before Yogg, though, and Asherrylie wasn’t able to go back with us.
Hello, Hestiah! Hestiah is, by the way, pretty freakin’ awesome. I love her to bits, and I was glad my husband (or “hooband”, in some Darnassian dialects) was able to sort of meet her through her joining us for this. He’s certainly heard me talk about her a lot from Twitter and Ravelry.
Yogg’s “Sara” phase wasn’t a big deal. Yogg’s “Let me grab you with my tentacles” phase was a much bigger deal, and I hear the “MAH INSANE BRAIN… LET ME SHOW U IT” part that goes with it was an absolutely massive deal. This was going to require a little more help. I understood this as soon as Hestiah said she was getting “Rooster”.
I almost freaked out. I did get a little scared. Meeting new people is often difficult for me, and I really need to be able to personally trust someone before I’m okay to work with them on something like this. I have slow processing and reaction times. I’m sometimes very silly just to keep my own stress level down. (I chewed out a Kirin Tor battle mage NPC in chat for asking “Any luck?” when we went back in once.) I may have a panic attack in the middle of things. I’m not very socially appropriate because I think there are many things we do more harm than good by staying so hung up about them that we practically deify them through our reverance born of fear, and my health is just not in a place where I can afford to put myself through that.
Here’s the good thing about being able to trust people, though - I trust Hestiah, so I was able to trust this would be okay. I knew she wouldn’t purposely put me in a bad situation, and if it did turn out to be a bad situation I trusted her to take responsibility for it. It turned out Rooster was pretty cool. :)
Yogg? Oh, no… we still didn’t get him down.
And that brings us to the last night.
There were folks on Twitter volunteering, and I do appreciate the offers for help. I was really going to take some of you up on it, and we tried to grab a few trusted others, but I know this was kind of a surprise and do not blame anyone who couldn’t make it. The fact that you are people I felt I could reach out to, or who had specifically offered for this, matters so much more than I can possibly tell you.
Talk of whether or not we could go back and start again to do hardmodes to get me that reply code started up. It was looking like that would require more people, and even with people I’m okay working with it doesn’t mean I can work with a large number of folks at one time. I started getting kind of nervous about it all and grabbed Mat to go with me to a place where we could talk it out without all the other voices and figure out what to do.
We talked about a lot of things. My fears. Why this mattered so much to me, and how much it meant that we’d made it this far. Daily life stuff. Social life stuff. How much of myself my osteoarthritis is costing me. We walked from gate into Ulduar down to the Observation Ring - the slow, RP walk speed - and then sat there a while. And we just talked. As it always happens when we “just talk”, everything seemed to sort itself out and we had a plan. Finish it the way we were doing it now, just in case I couldn’t push myself into coming back, but plan on coming back later with more friends for hardmodes. GET THAT REPLY CODE!
There was no way we’d get past Yogg without one dps more than just my husband’s dogcat, though, and quite a few folks were busy. Rades was able to answer the call for help, though! Even though we didn’t discuss lore while we were there, it was great to be in a place so rich in lore with a fellow lorenerd.
It’s possible just having him there turned my mind more toward lore. I hadn’t thought about Yogg’s broken chains until Rades was there. I’d always imagined they’d be like the chains forged by Hephaestus to bind Prometheus. When I saw that they had that sort of spectral/celestial look, I thought of Gleipnir, which would be more fitting with the Norse theme of the Storm Peaks. The chain forged by the dwarves to hold Loki’s monstrous offspring, Fenrir. Unbreakable because it was forged of impossible things… the sound of a cat’s footfalls, the beard of a woman, the sinews of a bear (I lack the proper cultural context for why this one was considered “impossible”), the breath of a fish, the roots of a mountain, and the spit of bird. And yet, even that chain will break one day… at Ragnarök.
Yogg-Saron’s broken chains might be more interesting than I’d previously considered.
I decided before we went in that I knew what our problem was with this fight. My strategy as a bear is always “BITE IT IN THE BALLS!” Bite dragon balls, Ignis’s balls… whatever. If a bear is biting you in a very, um… “personal region”… you’re less likely to pay attention to the elf throwing darts at you or the gnome climbing up your back and hammering you on the head.
Yogg-Saron has no balls. This is why I kept getting picked up by tentacles, and why my friends had to kill me to stop me from killing them. He shall forever be known as Yogg “No Balls” McOldgod.
We had extra help this time, though! I was introduced to POWERSAURUS, and to SNACKS the spider. (SPIDER PRIDE!!! >8<) But the best friend Rades brought along?
Bootypants! <3 I would join the Bootypants Fan Club in a heartbeat.
We got through Yogg, saw the Captain Planet door open, and found Brann Bronzebeard himself on the other side! And then Algalon killed us.
But we went back with a new plan! And Algalon killed us again.
That’s our whole group right there. Platypus the dogcat, my precious and soft ass, Mat’s faith in the Light, Rades, and Bootypants. I had a Dun Morogh cub helping me tank, and Platypus (my husband, in case you hadn’t caught onto that yet) pulled out a prairie dog for extra dps.
Mat: I’ll get my balloon for healz! (This is because I joked about ballons being for healing, not dps, the night before.)
Me: Balloons are just full of hot air.
Mat: I’m a paladin.
Me: I see your point.
The thing is, this was some pretty difficult healing for him to handle. We had bears going through a big bang, folks jumping into black holes, stars coming to Algalon’s aid, and folks witnessing THE FURY OF THE COSMOS!
And did I mention Mat was at work? I didn’t?! That’s how badly HE wanted to see me get to do this! He was sometimes having to stop and go tend to a customer when one came in, but yeah. And he was healing this ALONE!
And then I saw Big Bear Butt log in.
There’s something I haven’t made a big deal about because I didn’t want to embarrass anybear, but this is a really emotional post that’s all about making a big deal about those who have helped me. Big Bear Butt reached out to me when I was having trouble with groups and heroics. He whispered me very politely one night, told me he’d read my post, and offered to run things with me if I ever wanted it. He made it very clear he wasn’t trying to push me… just whenever I was ready, and if I ever wanted to… and that he wasn’t some creepy stalker or something. I was reading Twitter the next day and saw that the day before, he’d gotten some sad news. On a night that he had every right in the world to just shut down and be alone with his sadness, he had reached out to me and offered help to someone he didn’t know.
That’s what tells you what kind of person someone is. Not their gear score. Not their dps ranking. Not how many achievements they have or when and under what conditions they got them.
I trust Big Bear Butt enough to ask him if he could bring his priest and help Mat with the healing.
This was only the second time in all of this that we’d had five people. Never more than five, and sometimes as few as three. Plans had gone out the windown, nothing had gone the way we expected, and there had been a steady rotation of people in and out of the group. But here we were! Algalon the Observer! I had seen Ulduar!
With BBB healing, we got Algalon down with no problem! He and Brann had their little talk, in which Algalon the Observer learns a little something about the “observer effect” and starts thinking maybe we aren’t a lost cause just because we’re a bunch of failures.
"Perhaps it is your imperfection, that which grants you free will, that allows you to persevere against cosmically calculated odds."
The chest opened, the loot came out and… THE REPLY CODE! It was there! We’d known you didn’t have to do the hardmodes to unlock Algalon anymore, but there was some confusion over how the reply code worked and a bunch of us thought you didn’t get that unless you did the hardmodes. We were wrong! There it was! The thing I waited three years for! I jumped out of windows to chase Rhonin and Brann down the street when other people turned this in! IT WAS IN THE CHEST!
So I asked if it was okay for me to need on it.
I know, I know! That’s just really drilled into me, and even though my husband said, “I don’t think anybody’s going to tell you not to take it,” I still asked first.
I GOT THE REPLY CODE!
(Floor decorations courtesy of BBB’s preist’s ability to poop pretty patterns.)
I took Brann’s ring as my reward. I kind of feel sorry for the NPCs there. “Leader”, “Archmage”, and “Ranger General” just don’t sound nearly as impressive as “Starcaller”, “Guardian of Cenarius”, “Flamebreaker”, and “Destroyer’s End”.
We’re missing someone, of course. Bootypants couldn’t go back to Dalaran with us. Neither could Rades. I was sad about this until I realized Rades was still with us in chat.
Friends don’t let friends RP walk alone.
Then, Rhonin gave the speech. The one I wanted so badly to hear again, and the reason I had wanted to do this.
"Citiziens of Dalaran, raise your eyes to the skies and observe. Today our world’s destruction has been averted in defiance of our very makers. Algalon the Observer has been defeated by our brave comrades in the depths of the titans city of Ulduar. Algalon was sent here to judge the fate of our world. He found a planet whose races had deviated from the titans’ blueprints. A planet where not everything had gone according to plan. Cold logic deemed our world not worth saving. Cold logic however does not account for the power of free will! It’s up to each of us to prove this is a world worth saving! That our lives… our lives are worth living! "
There’s a lot of talk about “cold logic” in WoW. Theorycrafting, Recount numbers, item levels on gear, this, that, and what-the-hell-ever other thing.
Cold logic doesn’t make you reach out to someone you only “know” from their blog posts. Cold logic doesn’t allow you to base a friendship on Spider Porn…um, PRIDE! >8< Cold logic doesn’t make you care so much that someone else achieve those things they want that you cry with them when it finally happens. Cold logic isn’t why someone answers a call for help on Twitter when they aren’t getting anything out of it except the joy of helping. Cold logic isn’t why we have friends, anyway.
Each and every person who went in to help me matters. I wish there had been a way to get all of you to Dalaran. Even if you were only there for one fight, you made this happen. And those of you who weren’t there but were willing to be helped me believe I could do this.
Three years. Nine players over the course of three nights. Several more cheering us on through Twitter. Bootypants the bear. And I finally got to do it! I finally turned in the reply code!
See, it’s not just about what happens in Azeroth. Here on Earth, not “working according to plan” doesn’t have to mean you’re useless and broken. It means you’re not what others expect. Who the fuck are they to tell you what you should be? Take care of your business, let others take care of their. Those you care about are “your business”, so look after them when doing so doesn’t conflict with looking after yourself or respecting their right to look after themself. How you do this, or what you do other than this, is YOUR life.
Sometimes a flaw is just a strength waiting for the right opportunity.
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