Thursday, 11 June 2009

Interesting Times

There is an ancient curse of lost origins, "May you live in interesting times". Sometimes I wonder that this was cast upon the concept of the game of chance known colloquially as 'PUGing'. Certain quests may require additional members in a party, so a 'Pick Up Group' of helpful strangers is sometimes the only option. There is rarely a shortage of people to choose from, but the resulting group can vary dramatically and the experience can be entertaining or downright miserable.

On this particular occasion we had decided to venture into the Violet Hold, in Dalaran. The Hold hosts a number of extremely dangerous prisoners. Recently, however, Malygos has sent supporters of the Blue Dragonflight to enter the Hold via magical portals with the hope of loosing the prisoners on the city. On our arrival it was clear that the Kirin Tor guards were close to being overwhelmed and they wasted no time in leaving us to it. We worked hard to keep on top of the constant flow of creatures through portal after portal. Aggrion did his best to hold the attention of our foe, but his health was wildly unstable and we feared for his, and subsequently our, life on more than one occaision. I was deeply concerned when I glanced at our priest to see him gazing vaguely into the distance. Finally a different beast appeared, immune to our attacks he ignored us and calmly released one of the prisoners. Without waiting to see the outcome he disappeared, leaving us to defend ourselves (and all of Dalaran). We just managed to best the creature, but Aggrion was looking significantly the worse for ware. During a brief pause he made his way to me.

"I'm not sure about this healer." he muttered.

"Are you having any problems?" I asked the priest.

He seemed to ignore me, staring at his feet.

"Hang in there, we'll make it through." I whispered to Aggrion without much confidence.

But we didn't. We fended off the next set of attackers but as another prisoner was loosed, our healer was simply unable to keep up with the beating Aggrion was taking and we were forced to retreat.

We regrouped outside of the Hold and re-entered and once again the guards left us to it and again we battled the creatures that exited the portals. Once again a prisoner was released and once again we bested him by the skin of our teeth.

"I don't think we can do this." Aggrion said under his breath.

He was bleeding and bruised. I did my best to help him bandage himself, I wished, not for the first time, that my first aid skills were better. I glanced over at the Holy Priest who was standing a little way from the group looking distracted, then continued my task murmering my agreement.

Suddenly the healer glanced around at the rest of the party.

"I have to go. Sorry!" he said and without waiting to hear our response he cast a spell and disappeared.

"Oh..." I gasped.

"I'm hearthstoning!" cried Aggrion, already casting.

"Ow!" I groaned as a portal guardian struck me hard. The last thing I saw was a slightly guilty expression on Aggrion's face as he teleported to safety.

He was the only one who made it out safely. The rest of us gathered ourselves and met with him at the doorway to the Hold. We still had a job to do, but we couldn't go on without a healer. So we began to ask around once again. To our muted delight and surprise we found someone who was willing to help within a few minutes.

As we entered the Violet Hold for a third time we were somewhat subdued. Not so our new Druid healer.

"Warlock." He addressed me by class, not name, a pet hate of mine.

"Great" I thought, "another unlucky roll!"

"Just go ahead and use Life Tap whenever you want, I'll have you covered at all times." He finished, flashing me a winning smile and winking.

I almost choked on my Firecracker Salmon. I'm sure I blushed an unflattering shade of red. I shot a glance at Aggrion who was clearly too busy scowling at the prisoners to have noticed my reaction.

"Um, er, thanks!" I managed to respond.

"Lets get going." Aggrion said gruffly and charged at the first guardian.

I had never expected a tree to be quite so energetic! Through the entire encounter the Druid bounced and danced his way around the prison, seeming unperturbed by his dismal surroundings or the very real danger we were in. He was like our own personal sunbeam as he waved his branches and rustled his leaves. Aggrion's wounds were disappearing almost faster than they could be inflicted, he later commented that he barely even felt the attacks so quickly were they healed!

As we laid the blue dragon, Cyanigosa to rest, we thanked him for his help. Clearly skilled at healing, it was astonishing the difference that one single individual can make to such an experience.

So, PUGing. A way to meet the best and worst people. Definitely an interesting experience, not always a pleasant one, but it is how I met almost all of my friends, so it's perhaps more of a blessing than a curse.

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