The sun was setting and with chests heaving we wiped our brows. For two hours previous we had been hauling and carting, wiring and coordinating. We turned down the lights and a clutch of CRT monitors buzzed to life. We checked to make sure all connections were strong before we left to procure much-needed provisions for the marathon to come.
Once we returned from the supermarket with various and sundry gamer eats in hand, we then settled down for the eagerly-awaited Guild Wars Beta Weekend.
There were only four of us, but that was just as well. Our only connection to the internet was through a single, four-port router. One of us had his desk, one had the kitchen table (to share with the vittles), and two more of us made our homes on the coffee table. One to take the couch and the other (myself) to make her home on a cushion curled with a 2-liter of mountain dew.
The sun hand gone down, the servers had come up, and we waited with baited breaths, staring intently at the tiny lightning bolt in the corners of our screens while the Guild Wars Beta client loaded.
We were set loose upon the world of a pre-searing Tyria. Initially we were dismayed by such a small group size, but eventually someone found the PvP mission. I have no idea if the Ascalon Academy mission is still Player versus Player, but back then it was.
You also had to win.
It took more than one try, but eventually we made it through and experienced the searing. Where once we frolicked among lush and verdent hamlets, now we fought tooth and nail through lands blasted by the charr, paradise reduced to rubble.
You might imagine that we battled through blasted Ascalon and across the frozen Shiverpeaks as a team, taking advantage of the fact that we played within mere feet of each other, but you’d be wrong. The college we were attending somtimes kept strange hours. It wasn’t uncommon to have a six hour class on Saturdays, for example. Needless to say, we soon became separated.
My husband (then no more than a friend who was loaning his apartment) reached it first. After hours of the desolate blasted Ascalon, and hours of the frigid shiverpeaks (it was March in northern latitudes, more snow was not what we wanted to see), he gazed at lush and tropical Kryta. We saw (staring yearningly over his shoulder) beautiful white sandy beaches, verdant ferns and palm trees, and the sparkling blue ocean.
He had reached the Gates of Kryta, and there he stayed. The Gates was not the first mission that needed six people, but it was the first real challenge we had encountered. He was unable to complete it on his own so he came back and helped the rest of us through Ascalon and the Shiverpeaks.
When we finally reached the Gates of Kryta we broke into song. We had no knowledge of the Maguuma jungle. After Ascalon and the Shiverpeaks Kryta looked plenty lush to us!
We were dutifully impressed. The four of us set forth with a new friend we had made (A battery necromancer (Well of Power) named Virgo Moon who we eventually named our first cat after) and some other random soul. In those days you only brought along henchmen if you were looking for a death sentence, and heroes did not yet exist.
That was also when we discovered the glory of Oink. Those days he made his home in the middle of the road and was impossible to miss. I have it on good authority that now he hangs out by a small farmstead just off the beaten path.
We absolutely loved Oink. Not only was he utterly hilarious, he was impervious to damage. More than once our bacon was saved by this brave little pig. If you have never gone through the Gates of Kryta mission with Oink at your side I urge you to take him along. He is necessary for the bonus mission, but he is also a stalwart companion who is always willing to offer a cheerful “Oink!” when you need it most.