Looking for Group Excerpt

Chapter One

LookingForGroup_400x600<Same Crit Different Day> is Recruiting

SCDD is a tight-knit raiding guild (heroic and normal difficulty), currently looking for a main tank to join our mature, dedicated, and frankly fabulous team. Founded in 2011 by a group of friends with no fecking clue how to run a Heroes of Legend guild, but definite ideas about the right way to treat people—fairly, without harassment, and with equal opportunity to participate—SCDD roared past the traditional guild life expectancy of six months and has been getting awesomer ever since.

As a guild, we want . . .

…to have fun ffs

…to have a friendly community where everyone is treated with respect and fairness

…to be damn good at what we do

…to maintain our server-wide reputation for kindness, courtesy, and good old-fashioned arse kicking.

We promise . . .

…to organise and fill raids in an equitable and timely manner

…to recruit people, not specs, while also being sensible about guild and raid balance

…to have fair, transparent loot policies.

In return, we expect . . .

…a team-based approach to the game: When you have to make a choice, think of how it benefits the team, not only when it comes to loot and items, but also when it comes to your actions and attitude.

…a mature approach to the guild: Communicate, be honest, and be excellent to one another.

…your best damn behaviour: We’re here to succeed and to have fun, not to put up with rudeness, bigotry, or other asshattery. This is not about political correctness gone mad. This is not about nobody having a sense of humour. This is not about censorship. This reflects the fact that our guild encompasses a diverse range of people, and being a dick isn’t big, cool, or clever. And if you want to call me a carebear for that, then I don’t give a damn.

* * * * *

Application: Orcarella (Dread Knight tank)

Name (optional): Drew

Tell us a bit about yourself: Just an ordinary guy, 19 yo, currently doing game art design (lol) at uni. I like doing ordinary shit, hanging out with mates, playing games, whatever.

Character Name: Orcarella

Character Race / Class: Orc, Dread Knight

Primary Spec: Vengeance (Tanking)

Secondary Spec: Dishonour (DPS / PVP)

Which professions do you have: Metal Working & Gem Crafting

What was your previous guild (if relevant) and why did you leave: K, look, everybody knows I was the main tank for Annihilation (server first guild) for like three years, and last night we downed heroic Vilicus in Crown of Thorns, for about the hundredth time, and the axe finally dropped—the TANKING axe—which is the last piece of 345 gear I’ve been freakin waiting for, for like ever, and so I roll on it and so does the freakin healer. The freakin healer. For his freakin offspec. And I’m like dude wtf and the guild leader is all like, oh yeah, we’re trying to gear him up as a tank. And I’m not a loot whore but I think I should have been AT LEAST INFORMED, y’know.

Anyway, we both rolled, and he won the axe and I lost my shit, and I quit. But it’s not about the axe. I mean it is about the axe, because that was my axe, but it was more than the axe. It’s not like I mind gearing up guildies, but I was the MT, and I’ve been with that guild, every single raid night, for three years. And it was like it meant nothing. They wouldn’t even give me a goddamn axe to make me better at doing the thing they have me around to do.

And then I realised I was losing my shit over an axe. A pixel axe. But seriously the thing never drops. I’ve run heroic CoT since the patch hit, waiting and yearning for that axe, and that’s the first time I’ve ever seen it drop. The ranger bow drops every freakin time. It’s like every ranger in the guild has one to wield and one to stick up his arse. But is there a tanking axe for Ella, is there bollocks.

And that was when I realised I must have stopped having fun in this game a long time ago. Because why else would I be like completely BROKEN over an axe. Enough to throw away three years of raiding. But Annihilation threw me away too. Over the same nothingy axe.

Tell us a bit about your raiding experience: Just look me up on the armoury. Been raiding with Anni since the first expansion.

How did you hear about <Same Crit Different Day>: I’ve seen you guys around and I checked the rankings and you seem to know what you’re doing.

Why do you want to be in this guild: Just looking to have fun in the game again. I guess I want to be more casual, but at the same time I don’t want to waste my time fannying around with a bunch of clueless noobs.

How would we benefit from recruiting you: Best tank on the server. Check my gearscore.

Do you know anyone in the guild: N

What aspects of the game are you most interested in: Raiding, PVP

Do you have a microphone, and are you able to connect to Mumble: Y

Have you read the guild rules and actually thought about them for more than two seconds: Y

Are you going to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted, offensive, or dickish in the name of lulz: N

Anything else you want to tell us? N

* * * * *

[Officer][Ialdir]: You know, if he had that axe, he’d be the best geared tank on the server 😉

[Officer][Heurodis]: I pugged w/ this guy once. he was an arrogant tosser like the rest of Anni

[Officer][Ialdir]: Yeah but you say that about everyone you pug with.

[Officer][Heurodis]: No I dont. sometimes I say they’re shite

[Officer][Morag]: Not worried about his skillz, just his attitude.

[Officer][Heurodis]: What do you expect??? Hes 19

[Officer][Solace]: Um, I’m 19

[Officer][Ialdir]: Omg, /gkick Solace

[Officer][Morag]: Guild policy is 16+ so let’s make this about his app not his age

[Officer][Ialdir]: I say we give him a chance. Unless he’s an epic dick, we’d be mad to turn down a good tank

[Officer][Morag]: He pretty much admitted he ragequit his last guild over loot drama. I’m not sure that’s a good sign

[Officer][Heurodis]: FWIW if I lost a good drop to someone’s offspec Id be pretty fucking pissed. Specially if it was the healer.

[Officer][Solace]: Healers are people too.

[Officer][Ialdir]: Bjorn’s healerist.

[Officer][Heurodis]: Hey, some of my best friends are healers

[Officer][Ialdir]: I rolled a healer once. I was young. I was just playing around.

[Officer][Solace]: And it was just a phase you were going through

[Officer][Heurodis]: lol

[Officer][Ialdir]: lol

[Officer][Morag]: Can we actually make a decision? I’m getting my nails done in 20.

[Officer][Ialdir]: scroll up, already said yes

[Officer][Heurodis]: yeah go on then.

[Officer][Morag]: Sol?

[Officer][Solace]: His app was okay, he obviously knows what he’s doing, I say we take him.

[Officer][Morag]: You’ve talked me round. Let’s take him. We can always kick him again if he’s an arsewipe. Lemme whisper him.

To [Orcarella]: Hi Ella, got a moment to talk?

[Orcarella] whispers: sec

To [Orcarella]: kk

[Orcarella] whispers: Soz, was just pugging BL. Healer kept dying on Tolvus the Arachnomancer cos he kept standing on the webs

To [Orcarella]: If the healer dies, its the tanks fault 😛

[Orcarella] whispers: you can’t taunt fire

To [Orcarella]: lol anyhoo, still up for joining SCDD?

[Orcarella] whispers: y

/ginv Orcarella

Orcarella has joined the guild.

The Guild Message of the day is now: Welcome to our newest member, Orcarella. If you have questions, just axe.

[Guild][Morag]: Hi Ella

[Guild][Ialdir]: Yo

[Guild][Mordant]: Welcome

[Guild][Orcarella]: Hey all, thanks for the inv

[Guild][Dave]: Not another dread knight

[Guild][Morag]: This one’s different, he’s actually got a tank spec.

[Guild][Dave]: Hey I said id go vengeance if we needed it

[Guild][Heurodis]: Yeah but you were blatantly lying

[Guild][Dave]: DPS4EVA!!!1111

[Guild][Jargogle]: Didn’t you used to run with Anni?

[Guild][Orcarella]: I um kinda ragequit

[Guild][Orcarella]: I think I just wasn’t enjoying that sort of raiding anymore

[Guild][Orcarella]: and it was making me into somebody I didn’t like

[Guild][Heurodis]: thats where you’re going wrong. I try to be someone other people don’t like

[Guild][Jargogle]: so you’re slumming with us now?

[Guild][Solace]: I don’t think that’s fair, Magda.

[Guild][Jargogle]: I’m just asking the question

[Guild][Orcarella]: no, its cool. I looked into it and you guys are the most progressed casual guild on the server

[Guild][Ialdir]: wow we’re flattered.

[Guild][Heurodis]: we should put that on the website

The Guild Message of the day is now: Welcome to the most progressed casual guild on the server!!

[Guild][Orcarella]: I think i’ll just STFU

[Guild][Solace]: We’re just teasing you. It’s how we show we care.

[Guild][Orcarella]: cool, anybody up for a random heroic?

[Guild][Heurodis]: I’m maxed out for the day, and it’s not even noon. Bow before Bjorn, king of grinding

[Guild][Orcarella]: *bows*

[Guild][Morag]: Don’t. It only encourages him.

The Guild Message of the day is now: Welcome to the most progressed casual guild on the server!! New guild rule: don’t encourage Bjorn.

[Guild][Morag]: Anyhoo, gtg, my nails need me

[Guild][Solace]: I’m up for that hc

[Guild][Ialdir]: Me too

Drew grabbed a Dr Pepper from the minifridge he technically wasn’t supposed to have in his room, sent a couple of invites to his new guildies, and fired up the random dungeon finder.

[Group][Ialdir]: Please not Steamworks, please not steamworks

A loading screen popped up. Drew recognised it straightaway as the Steamworks Furnace. And then he found himself standing in a long grey-brown hallway, metal rivets in the walls and a pair of equally grey-brown, metal-riveted golems waiting patiently to be pwned.

A severe-looking high elf with long golden hair drawn into a topknot appeared in the corridor. He was tricked out in ornate brown and green leather with gold scroll work, tangles of briars running down his arms and across his huge shoulder pads. Almost a complete set of Tier 14. Nice. And he was wielding that damn bow from Vilicus.

[Group][Ialdir]: FML

An orcish assassin wearing a cobbled-together set of black leathers from the last patch spawned next.

[Group][Ialdir]: Yo

[Group][Orcarella]: hey

The assassin, obviously staying true to his mysterious profession, said nothing.

Next in was a dark elf chick with deep-brown skin and shock-white hair. She was striking and pretty, in a video game avatar kind of way. Drew liked to think he’d grown out of his fancying-imaginary-elves phase, but Solace had obviously put a lot of work into her look. She was wearing a full set of Tier 8, which, after a quick inspect, Drew was relieved to see was in the cosmetic slot, not the stat slot.

[Group][Orcarella]: Nice wings

[Group][Solace]: Thanks

[Group][Ialdir]: It took us weeks to farm them

[Group][Solace]: A well-dressed priest is a happy priest

She did a twirl, all white and gold and stirring feathers. Drew was really glad that the fancying-imaginary-elves phase was way behind him.

After a moment, he selected Solace and typed /whistle into his chat window, and Orcarella signalled her approval.

Then a human elementalist appeared and threw huge ball of fire at the golems. The assassin logged out instantly. Drew leapt into action.

[Group][Orcarella]: wwwwwwwwws1111

He stared in dismay as his carefully executed keyboard commands, that had been intended to send Ella dashing forward to grab aggro on the mobs, instead popped up as a stream of gibberish in chat, making him look like a total noob in front of his new guildies.

Nice work, Drew. Hit return next time.

The golems were lumbering forward, heading straight for the elementalist, who was wearing nothing for armour and still cheerfully spamming fireballs like it was Guy Fawkes Night. Drew sighed, threw a Circle of Corruption under the monsters, and charged forward to draw their aggro. He hammered the keyboard, alternating threat-building strikes between the two golems. He was pleased to see a protective little halo surrounding his character, which meant Solace had her head in the game.

Arrows whistled past him, cutting into the golems’ health. They were followed by a small owl Drew was pretty sure came from the high elf starting area. Even without the extra DPS, the golems went down pretty quickly.

[Group][Orcarella]: Don’t pull without the tank

Another fireball whooshed by and called the attention of two more golems and a purple-robed machine priest.

[Guild][Orcarella]: ffs

It was time for this guy to learn a life lesson.

Drew pulled his character back and typed /sit. Next to him, Solace and Ialdir started dancing together. Typical of the game’s animation, Solace writhed slinkily while Ialdir flailed around like a complete prat who was being electrocuted. Drew had typed /dance on this character exactly once and instantly regretted it, but it was nowhere near as bad as the male high elves.

The elementalist was still throwing fire while two robots and a loony cultist beat on him with hammers. The moment he died, Drew threw down his CoC and leaped into the fray. This group fell over slightly more slowly, but not by much, cultist first, then robots.

Drew was starting to feel he’d made the right choice. The other two clearly knew what they were doing, and he was almost having fun, despite the failamentalist.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: ffs

[Group][Orcarella]: Don’t pull for me

[Group][Burnzurfais]: y no healz

[Group][Solace]: Because you pulled without the tank

[Group][Burnzurfais]: u suk

Solace resurrected the tragically fallen Burnzurfais. Somehow, even the guy’s avatar looked sulky.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: buff me

[Guild][Ialdir]: Guys, I think we’ve found a potential new recruit.

[Guild][Solace]: He’s a real prince.

[Guild][Orcarella]: lol

They took down the next pack with no problems, and then the corridor opened out into a wide, circular ring. In the middle, streams of lava converged and flowed into the furnace beneath. The first time Drew had seen it, he’d thought it was pretty majestic. The twelfth time, he’d just wished the whole place was smaller. This was well more than the twelfth time.

There were three bands of golems and cultists patrolling the rim. Once, he’d hit on the cunning notion of knocking them all over the edge with his Ruthless Surge, but they’d gathered at the bottom and come slowly back up, bringing the entire dungeon with them. He’d found it kind of hilarious, but his guildies at the time had been furious.

To give Burnzurfais due credit, he somehow managed to avoid throwing fire at them until Drew had put down his circle and charged into the first group. It was all going pretty smoothly until three extra burning robots lumbered over from the other side of the room.

Drew gave the guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’d just had a tabbing accident. Happens to the best of us. He strafed awkwardly over to intercept, just in time to see the elementalist hurl a fireball at the final group and then wrap himself in a cloud of mist, leaving them to run straight for Solace.

Shit had just got serious.

Circle of Corruption was still on cooldown, and he only had two taunts. He dashed across the room, just as Ialdir trapped a cultist with a bolas. But that left seven mobs still standing, and he was pretty sure some of them were healers and some of the others were firing rockets more or less at random.

At that moment, one of the golems lost interest in Orcarella and started pounding on Ialdir, while Burnzurfais went back to spamming the one spell he knew how to cast, standing in a puddle of flaming oil that was quickly eating his health bar.

[Group][Solace]: Don’t stand in fire

[Group][Burnzurfais]: healz

[Group][Burnzurfais]: healz!!!!11

He died.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: y no healz

Drew’s taunt came off cooldown, and he yanked the golem away from Ialdir just in time for the bolas to drop and the final cultist to take it personally. Out of the corner of his eye, Drew saw Solace’s health draining like pasta in a colander. Nipping between oil spills, she ran towards him, throwing HoTs, and he darted forward to meet her, unleashing Hail of Vengeance on everything around them. For a moment, he couldn’t see their avatars for giant robots and particle effects, as if they were standing together at the centre of a storm.

They took out a couple more golems before the damage and the chaos got too much for them and Ialdir took the wrong end of a rocket blast.

[Group][Ialdir]: You can do it guys, only four left!!

Drew was sweating slightly as he mashed his rotation. It wouldn’t really be his fault if they wiped, but he was the best geared tank on the server and he didn’t want to be dragged down by some mouth-breathing pillock with an RP-inappropriate name.

Also Solace was kind of depending on him. And the healer wasn’t dying on his watch.

His health dipped, and he threw up Wall of Blades as one more cultist keeled over.

[Group][Ialdir]: *waves pompoms*

Solace’s mana wasn’t looking great and, in his Vengeance spec, Drew’s damage output was pretty low. This was the point where all the graphics and all the sound effects and all the story just went away, and it became a game of blue bars and red bars and which of them hit zero first.

Another golem down. Two left, both on half health.

Then one.

[Group][Solace]: oom

Drew’s health ticked away. Ten percent. Five percent. His vampiric aura was giving him a slow trickle of healing, but it was nowhere near enough. The golem was dying too, but not quite as quickly.

And, at last, Orcarella collapsed to the floor and the golem, a last sliver of red clinging mockingly to the bottom of its health bar, turned to Solace.

Drew hated this bit. Not his fault but, damn, it felt like it.

[Group][Orcarella]: Sorry guys

[Group][Burnzurfais]: fucking noobs

Solace was kiting for all she was worth, but she had no health and no mana and she probably wouldn’t last another five seconds. The golem slammed its fist down. Then there was a rush of purple light and Solace was standing over the machine’s broken body.

[Group][Solace]: omg i cant believe that worked

[Group][Ialdir]: GJ guys

[Group][Orcarella]: wtf was that

[Group][Solace]: Dark elf racial. [Lifesteal]. Hee. I’ve never used it before.

[Group][Ialdir]: That used to be really OP back in the day.

[Group][Solace]: Back when all this was grass

[Group][Solace]: When you had to farm for mats uphill both ways in the snow

[Group][Ialdir]: And you had to respect your elders

[Group][Burnzurfais]: rez

[Group][Solace]: Sec, need to mana up. Just sipping on my [Fermented Cave Mould]. Mmmm.

[Group][Ialdir]: Better than the [Brackish Sump Water] you were drinking in the last expansion.

[Group][Solace]: Game developers hate spellcasters.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: rez

Drew stared at his crumpled corpse, which was lying at a slightly awkward angle on the floor, his axe clipping through the foot of a fallen golem. Solace drifted between the bodies of her slain companions, swaying gracefully as she worked the magic that would call their spirits back from the netherworld. Magic that, as one of the Heroes of Legend, she would have learned long before she learned to ride a horse.

A window popped up on screen.

Solace is trying to resurrect you: accept / decline.

[Group][Orcarella]: Thx

[Group][Burnzurfais]: rez

Solace moved to Ialdir and did her thing again.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: rez

Another window popped up.

Burnzurfais has initiated a vote-kick against [Solace] Reason []. Yes/No.

The vote to kick Solace has failed.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: rez

[Group][Orcarella]: dude, why did you just try to vote-kick the healer

[Group][Burnzurfais]: no healz

[Group][Ialdir]: if the tank dies, it’s the healer’s fault, if the healer dies it’s the tank’s fault . . .

[Group][Ialdir]: IF THE DPS DIES ITS BECAUSE YOU PULLED A BUNCH OF MOBS THEN STOOD IN FIRE

[Group][Burnzurfais]: too slow

[Group][Solace]: Why, are you late for the opera?

[Group][Burnzurfais]: i cud solo this on my main

With what seemed to Drew like an air of visible reluctance, Solace resurrected Burnzurfais. Then she jogged to the centre of the room, where the streams of lava met and plunged down into the furnace below. She teetered on the edge for a moment, her silver wings shining in the red glow from the final boss waiting in the depths.

[Guild][Solace]: Woah, that nearly went really badly wrong

[Guild][Dave]: Wut

[Guild][Solace]: I nearly fell down the middle of the furnace

[Group][Burnzurfais]: go

[Guild][Dave]: I did that once

[Guild][Dave]: Had num lock on

Ialdir and his pet owl, which seemed to be called Small Mangy Owl, went to the ledge and sat down next to Solace.

[Guild][Heurodis]: Once I jumped down because i was trying to show there was an invisible wall and you couldnt fall off it

[Guild][Solace]: I know. I was there

[Guild][Heurodis]: I was getting mixed up with the oubliette in FK back in vanilla

[Guild][Jargogle]: Oh, have you been playing since vanilla, Bjorn? I didn’t know because you never mention it.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: gogogo

[Group][Solace]: I never get tired of this view

It had been a while since Drew had even bothered looking at it. He sent Ella to join the others and tilted his mouse so he could see right down into the fiery chasm.

[Yell][The Forge Master]: MORE STEEL, MORE FIRE, MORE SERVANTS FOR THE GREAT MACHINE!

[Group][Burnzurfais]: gogogo

[Group][Ialdir]: you’d think he’d have enough servants by now

[Group][Solace]: I love how it’s the Great Machine. Like, how good is this machine? Pretty great.

[Yell][Ialdir]: MORE STEEL, MORE FIRE, MORE SERVANTS FOR THE ADEQUATE MACHINE

[Group][Orcarella]: lol

[Group][Solace]: Well you wouldn’t want to worship a machine with self-esteem issues

[Group][Burnzurfais]: what the fuk is wrong with u fukin noobs

[Group][Solace]: Just taking time to smell the lava

[Group][Burnzurfais]: ffs

[Group][Orcarella]: Ok, lets just finish this. If we skip Gabraxis and Irontongue and go straight to Pyrite we’ll be done in about 20 mins.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: kk

[Guild][Solace]: But I like doing the optionals. I don’t feel I’ve had a good day unless I’ve been impaled by Irontongue’s mighty shaft.

Ialdir ran around in circles, very nearly falling into the furnace.

[Yell][Ialdir]: IMPALED!!!

Drew’s Dr Pepper was suddenly all over his keyboard.

[Group][Orcarella]: shit, sec

He cleaned up after himself, still grinning and not sure why this wasn’t the worst dungeon run he’d been on in months. Then he settled back down, marshalled his merry band, and led them deeper into the furnace. The next few packs of mobs went down fairly smoothly. Burnzurfais was still bad at avoiding damage and worse at keeping quiet about it, but he’d stopped pulling and hadn’t actually died again, so it seemed like they were making progress.

The party turned left into the rough-hewn cavern where Pyrite stood around waiting obligingly for adventurers to come and kill him. The entrance was swarming with tiny golden rocklings. Drew knew from experience that they exploded when they died. When the patch had first come out, you’d had to take them down one at a time so the damage didn’t spike too much, but a tier and a half later, Orcarella had enough health to eat it twice over.

[Group][Orcarella]: r

[Group][Ialdir]: r

[Group][Solace]: r

He waited a second or two for Burnzurfais, who bounced about impatiently but didn’t actually say anything in chat. Then he slapped down his Circle of Corruption and charged. The little rocks swarmed round, glittering and glinting as Ialdir’s exploding arrows landed neatly amongst them.

Suddenly, Burnzurfais was standing right on top of Ella, lighting coruscating around his body. It was the one time Drew had seen him cast a spell that wasn’t Fireball or Shroud of Mist.

The rocklings dropped dead with the precision of a synchronised swimming team, unleashing a massive chained explosion. Ella’s health plummeted, stabilised, and then began to climb steadily.

Drew remembered to breathe.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a halo of golden light appear around Burnzurfais, which probably explained why he lasted three whole seconds before keeling over.

[Group][Burnzurfais]: ffs

[Guild][Ialdir]: is Mike around?

[Guild][Ignatius]: he’s making me a sammich

[Guild][Ialdir]: is there any reason for a fire ele to use that pb aoe lightning thingy

[Guild][Ignatius]: I’ll ask

[Guild][Ialdir]: thanks Helen

Solace was standing over the perennially incapacitated Burnzurfais, slowly bringing him back to life.

[Guild][Heurodis]: there isnt

[Guild][Heurodis]: fire aoe rotation should be fb to proc rof, then conflag til everythings dead

[Guild][Ialdir]: do you even play an elementalist

[Guild][Heurodis]: i had one back in RotU before they got nerfed

[Group][Burnzurfais]: heal me

[Guild][Ignatius]: Mike says Eye of the Storm is mostly a threat generator for the tanking tree

[Guild][Ignatius]: fire normally waits until Reign of Fire is up, then spams conflagration

[Group][Burnzurfais]: heal me

[Guild][Heurodis]: 😀

[Guild][Jargogle]: I thought it was against the rules to encourage Bjorn.

Ignatius has now been demoted to Guild Peon

[Guild][Ignatius]: hey, I was out the room, doing you a favour, Jacob

Ignatius has now been promoted to Guild Mascot

[Group][Orcarella]: mb before boss?

[Group][Solace]: please

Solace curled up on the floor and began sipping what was probably a delicious mug of [Fermented Cave Mould].

[Group][Burnzurfais]: heal me

[Group][Ialdir]: Dude, you’re an elementalist.

[Group][Ialdir]: not only do you have your own healing spells

[Group][Ialdir]: you can make your own food for free

[Group][Burnzurfais]: is healers job to heal

[Group][Burnzurfais]: stupid ffn noob healer

Drew gave up, right-clicked Burnzurfais, and initiated a vote-kick.

Burnzurfais vanished.

[Group][Solace]: Thank you

[Group][Solace]: Sadly, I can’t heal dickhead

[Group][Orcarella]: Want me to requeue?

[Group][Ialdir]: I think I’m done with randoms for today

[Group][Solace]: We can three man

[Group][Solace]: And now Mr Likestodie has gone we can go back and down Irontongue too

[Group][Orcarella]: God do we have to?

Solace shuffled up so close to Orcarella that the sleeves of her robe were clipping through the dread knight’s spiky armour, and performed a winsome little animation.

[Group][Solace]: Please?

[Group][Solace]: Please?

[Group][Solace]: Please?

[Group][Solace]: I’ll heal you real good baby.

Drew was glad he was sitting on the other side of a chunky orc in a skull-shaped helmet because he thought he might be blushing.

[Yell][The Forge Master]: MORE STEEL, MORE FIRE, MORE SERVANTS FOR THE GREAT MACHINE!

[Group][Orcarella]: Well, since you put it that way.

[Group][Solace]: Yay

Solace boinged happily around the cavern, just out of reach of the towering rock giant.

[Group][Ialdir]: If you pull, we’re letting you die

[Group][Solace]: gogogogogogoggogogo

[Group][Orcarella]: sure we can do this?

[Group][Ialdir]: course we can, we’re the most progressed casual guild on the server

[Group][Solace]: I’ve 3-manned this with Morag and Bjorn a bunch of times

[Group][Orcarella]: you must kick a lot of randoms

[Group][Solace]: No, no, we fly in the door

[Group][Ialdir]: Omg retro

[Group][Orcarella]: Um why

[Group][Solace]: It’s fun

[Group][Ialdir]: Omg crazy

[Group][Ialdir]: Having fun in the game

[Group][Orcarella]: right, lets do this

[Group][Orcarella]: Ill turn him to face the back wall

[Group][Orcarella]: Ialdir you’re on rocklings

[Group][Solace]: Let me switch to Glory

[Group][Solace]: It’s got slightly better DPS

[Group][Ialdir]: You know what else is really good DPS

[Group][Solace]: Bjorn

[Group][Ialdir]: *cries*

Drew carefully put what was left of his Dr Pepper out of harm’s way. He caught a glimpse of the time on his minimap and realised they’d been in the instance for over half an hour. Normally, he could blitz this place in twenty minutes, and it still felt like forever.

And, shit, he was meant to be meeting his mates for the £5.95 lunch deal in the Slug and Lettuce down the road. Well, it was only the pub, he could be late. They’d take the piss, but, hey, what were friends for?

He checked his buffs, made sure Solace had mana, and ran straight for Pyrite’s crotch, dropping CoC somewhere under his big toe. He strafed round, and Pyrite wheeled after him, waving huge rocky fists and paying no attention to the arrows thunking into his gold-encrusted arse. It was a pretty straightforward fight most of the time, and Ella had nothing to do except swing her maces at the boss’s knees and occasionally get slammed on the head.

Now that Drew thought about it, tanking wasn’t exactly a dignified role a lot of the time. He basically spent his evenings staring at a series of monstrous packages and being chewed on by irate minions. Unless it all went wrong, and then he was running around like a headless chicken right up to the point where he dropped dead.

But things were a bit more tense with only three. Every so often, Pyrite would stop and encase a member of the party in something called Fool’s Gold, and they had to be broken out by the DPS. Since Ialdir was the only one there who could do anything remotely approaching damage and Drew had to keep the boss against the wall in case his cone attack squished the whole party, sometimes it was up to Solace to smash Ialdir out of a rocky prison. Which was bad for Ella’s health and Drew’s nerves.

But the most progressed casual guild on the server triumphed in the end, and Pyrite slowly collapsed into a pile of rubble, dropping a pair of bracers that would have been useful a tier ago and a set of spiked knuckles nobody had ever wanted.

[Group][Ialdir]: GJ team

Solace ran past him, jumped into the giant’s body, and vanished.

[Group][Solace]: Weeeee

[Group][Ialdir]: That looks so wrong

[Group][Solace]: You don’t know what I’m doing in here

[Group][Ialdir]: Please exit the boss corpse in a calm and orderly fashion

[Group][Orcarella]: Does she always do that

[Group][Ialdir]: Not always

Pyrite’s remains vanished to reveal Solace doing her slinky dance. At his keyboard, Drew sighed and shook his head, but he was smiling.

[Yell][The Forge Master]: MORE STEEL, MORE FIRE, MORE SERVANTS FOR THE GREAT MACHINE!

[Group][Solace]: Still no rockling

[Group][Solace]: *cries*

[Group][Orcarella]: ?

[Group][Ialdir]: Pyrite has a really low chance to drop a [Baby Pyrite Rockling] and Solace has wanted it forever

[Group][Solace]: It’s the same model as the [Diminutive Ruby Golem] which is sooooo cute

[Group][Solace]: But nobody makes them anymore because it’s so fiddly to unlock the recipe

[Group][Orcarella]: how come

[Group][Ialdir]: It drops from a hidden boss in Magmarion’s Caverns. You need to do the whole raid in a special order

[Group][Ialdir]: And then activate the [Bejewelled Music Box] you got from the attunement quest

[Group][Ialdir]: And you can’t get the box anymore, so you can’t summon the boss, so you can’t find the plans

[Group][Solace]: *cries*

[Group][Solace]: And I’m this close to getting the Heavy Petting achievement

[Group][Orcarella]: i’ve never really seen the point of the pet thing

[Group][Solace]: They’re cute. That’s kind of their whole deal.

Next thing Drew knew, Solace was standing next to a [Tiny Angry Shrubbery] and Ialdir had pulled out a [Miniature Giant Space Hamster]. Honestly, he still didn’t see the appeal.

[Group][Orcarella]: Right. Irontongue?

[Group][Solace]: Yay

Once Solace had finished hugging Orcarella, they backtracked through Pyrite’s cavern, up the spiralling corridor, across the top ring, and up the staircase that led to Irontongue’s aerie.

They stepped out onto a plateau at the top of a twisted iron spire. A great metal serpent, winged and clawed and studded with rusted rivets and slowly turning gears, lay coiled around a dull black pillar.

[Yell][IRONTONGUE]: WHO DARES DISTURB THE SLUMBER OF THE WORLD MACHINE?

[Group][Orcarella]: wow i haven’t done this guy in six months

[Group][Orcarella]: can’t remember the tacs

[Group][Ialdir]: fairly straight forward

[Group][Ialdir]: main things are impale and scalding rage

[Group][Ialdir]: impale is when he stabs someone on his tail and hovers in the air putting shit on the floor

[Group][Ialdir]: don’t stand in the shit

[Group][Ialdir]: scalding rage is whole area aoe

[Group][Ialdir]: he’ll fly up and cover the platform in grey stuff so we all need to get behind a pillar

[Group][Orcarella]: cool

[Group][Ialdir]: plus standard dragon stuff

[Group][Ialdir]: you can get tail-swiped off the platform so like don’t

[Group][Orcarella]: kk going in

Orcarella raised her maces, shouted a battle cry, and charged.

[Yell][IRONTONGUE]: PITIFUL CREATURES OF FLESH! YOU SHALL NOT DISTURB THE HOLY WORK!

Drew started his rotation, barely able to see what was happening with his screen full of dragon face. But he wasn’t dying and Irontongue’s health was dropping at a good rate so everything seemed to be going according to plan.

[Group][Ialdir]: shit

[Group][Orcarella]: ?

[Group][Ialdir]: Small Mangy Owl just got punted off the platform

[Group][Solace]: omg noob

[Group][Ialdir]: hes an owl

[Group][Ialdir]: shud be able to fly

Suddenly Irontongue reared back and thrust its pelvis vigorously in Orcarella’s direction. And the next thing Drew knew, he was hoist aloft on the creature’s tail.

[Yell][Irontongue]: IMPALED!!!

[Yell][Solace]: IMPALED!!!

[Yell][Ialdir]: IMPALED!!!

[Group][Ialdir]: ooh on a first date

[Group][Orcarella]: *sigh*

[Group][Orcarella]: do you two have that macroed

[Group][Solace]: 😀

[Group][Ialdir]: 😀

There was nothing Drew could do while he was up there except make his own macro and enjoy the view, and actually the view was pretty good. The aerie was a tangled mess of steel and ash, bits of broken stone and fallen pillars littering a battered iron floor. He could even see a little bit of the Great Fissure below, shattered islands and rivers of lava. It was almost enough to make him forget what a pain the zone had been to level in.

At last Irontongue flung Orcarella to the floor, and Drew threw off a taunt to reestablish threat. He’d just got back into his rotation when Irontongue swooped into the air again.

[Yell][IRONTONGUE]: BOIL ALIVE!

Solace and Ialdir were already fleeing to the central pillar, and Drew pegged it after them, not wanting to be the noob who ate dragon breath.

[Group][Ialdir]: sw

Ella, Solace, and Ialdir grouped up neatly on the southwest corner of the pillar while clouds of scalding vapour billowed around them.

[Group][Solace]: group hug

When the steam cleared, Ella dived out from behind the pillar to meet the oncoming dragon, and Solace and Ialdir scattered to the opposite edge of the platform, clinging tight to Irontongue’s sides to avoid the tail-swipe. The boss was creeping towards fifty-percent health when it pulled back from Ella and soared into the air.

[YELL][IRONTONGUE]: BOIL ALIVE!

[Group][Ialdir]: n

They snuggled up on the north side of the pillar this time, and let Irontongue spew his scalding rage over the empty platform.

[Group][Solace]: no impale 🙁 🙁 🙁

[Group][Ialdir]: i’m sure you’ll get it soon

[Group][Orcarella]: lol

Then it was back to a screenful of dragon face, Orcarella pounding mercilessly against the dragon’s iron scales with her twin maces. Things settled into a rhythm. Ialdir got impaled, then Ella again. They hid from another couple of scalding rages, and Irontongue’s health ticked steadily down. They’d got it to about four percent when the dragon suddenly wheeled away from Ella and lashed its tail towards Solace.

[Yell][Irontongue]: IMPALED!!!

[Yell][Ialdir]: IMPALED!!!

[Yell][Orcarella]: IMPALED!!!

[Group][Solace]: yay

Drew strafed around the platform, dodging superheated oil, and lobbed his one ranged attack, a slightly feeble DoT called Traitor’s Curse, at the dragon.

[Group][Solace]: Look ma, no hands

On the other side of the platform, Ialdir sprayed volley after volley of glittering arrows into Irontongue’s underbelly.

[Group][Solace]: I can see my house from here

For want of anything better to do, Drew renewed Traitor’s Curse, and only then noticed that Ialdir had stopped firing.

[Group][Ialdir]: hold dps

Just then, Traitor’s Curse, which had been ticking away barely tickling the dragon, critically hit, shaving the last few points off Irontongue’s health. He dropped out of the sky like an enormous block of inert metal, whistling straight past the platform, taking Solace with him.

There was a brief silence and then Solace’s portrait greyed out.

Solace was killed by Solace: fall damage (0)

Solace has died.

[Group][Solace]: . . .

Before Drew could say anything a little gold box popped up in front of him.

Achievement unlocked: Rage Against the Machine

[Defeat Irontongue in Steamworks Furnace on Heroic Difficulty with no member of the group taking damage from Scalding Rage.]

[Guild][Ignatius]: grats

[Guild][Sindarella]: grats

[Guild][Dave]: gz

[Guild][Heurodis]: gratz

[Guild][Jargogle]: grats

[Guild][Solace]: He doesn’t deserve your grats

[Guild][Solace]: He just killed me

[Guild][Solace]: He shot Irontongue while I was impaled

[Yell][The Forge Master]: MORE STEEL, MORE FIRE, MORE SERVANTS FOR THE GREAT MACHINE!

[Guild][Ignatius]: lol

[Guild][Heurodis]: lol

Orcarella has now been demoted to Guild Peon

[Guild][Orcarella]: I’m really sorry

[Guild][Solace]: Hee hee

[Guild][Solace]: You so owe me now

[Guild][Solace]: I’m going to make you my pocket tank

[Guild][Solace]: And you have to do ALL the optional bosses

[Guild][Solace]: ALL the time

[Guild][Orcarella]: i’m okay with that

They ran back to the entrance to meet Solace, who seemed genuinely fine about what had happened. Drew drifted between confusion and relief—a mistake like that would not have been well-received in Annihilation. But, then, if he’d been running with Anni, they wouldn’t have been faffing about with optional bosses anyway.

Thankfully, the rest of the run went off without a hitch. They battled their way through the trash and down into the depths of the furnace, taking a short detour into the temple complex to deal with Arch Priest Garaxis, a skinny human in an outrageous robe who worshipped the Hand of Zoth-Arun and was the final boss of the previous raid tier. People had been smashing the Hand to pieces for a good six months, but Drew guessed the Arch Priest hadn’t got that memo. They beat heavily on him with pointy objects, and he fell over, dropping his [Mantle of Hydraulic Communion].

[Group][Solace]: omg need

Drew did a quick inspect. Solace’s shoulders were way better, and the mantle was healer gear so it couldn’t have been for her offspec.

[Group][Orcarella]: ?

[Group][Solace]: Have you seen how awesome these look?

[Group][Solace]: I’m working on a steampunk set

She put them on. Her angel wings disappeared, replaced by a disproportionately huge pair of shoulder pads filled with a mesh of wires and rotating gears.

Then she bounced up and down while Ialdir applauded and Drew grinned at the monitor like an idiot.

[Group][Solace]: Hmm

[Group][Solace]: I’d better switch back

[Group][Solace]: Thinking I’m giving off a bit of a mixed message fashion-wise

They pressed on through the Furnace, knocked over the Smelter and the Smith without too much trouble, and finally came face-to-face with the Forge Master.

[Yell][The Forge Master]: INTRUDERS! AUTOMATA TO ME! DEFEND THE FORGE!

[Group][Ialdir]: I always kind of feel sorry for this guy

[Group][Ialdir]: he’s just trying to do his job and a bunch of complete jerks bust in and start brokking his shit up

[Group][Solace]: What’s this guy’s deal anyway?

[Group][Ialdir]: did you sleep through the last patch or something?

[Group][Solace]: I was distracted by all the shiny things

[Group][Solace]: plus I’m not a massive lore nerd

[Group][Ialdir]: 😛

[Group][Orcarella]: lol

[Group][Ialdir]: so it turns out the whole world of Heroes of Legend is actually built on this giant ancient machine god thing

[Group][Ialdir]: and when Raziel returned from the Underworld he opened this fissure

[Group][Ialdir]: that unleashed a bunch of crap

[Group][Ialdir]: so all this stuff is like prototypes for the stuff in the world

[Group][Ialdir]: like Irontongue’s a prototype dragon and this dude’s a prototype giant

[Group][Solace]: oh right

[Group][Ialdir]: aren’t you glad you know a massive lore nerd now

[Group][Solace]: *hugs*

[Group][Orcarella]: whatever this guy is i’m killing him and taking his stuff

They killed that guy and took his stuff. Well, the stuff wasn’t very good, so they ripped it apart for the raw materials. Then Drew said a hasty good-bye to his new guild, logged off, and rushed out to meet his mates in the pub.

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