Along with Ashenvale, I also said good bye to an old friend of mine with patch 4.0.3a.
My character Joachim Hamar as I used to role-play him, was for all intents and purposes finished. I had stopped role-playing with any consistency for some time now, but when I play any game, I typically get into the head of the character and find a voice for it, especially when the game doesn't provide one.
Joachim was probably the most detailed character I have made - I fleshed out his history, and background, to a great level of detail, who he was, where he came from, what he did, and what happened to him. I outlined NPCs who were important to him, events and places that played significant parts in molding him, and always, the trajectory of his arc was tragic.
He was a pious, righteous, proud man pushed into Seminary but turned towards the Military, he was educated, philosophical, but short-sighted and blinded by his preconceptions. There were elements and themes running through his life, from little things like his devotion to horses, to the big things like the constant compromise of his morals for the sake of political practicality, that all tied together in strands of story.
There was a constant ebb and flow in him, balancing his hatred for the Horde against the necessity of doing the right thing against the greater threats. The corruption that slowly filtered into his own life as he began to protect those close to him against persecution and the self-loathing it generated even as he felt thankful for buying security with his own morality.
By the time I stopped role-playing, Joachim wasn't just a character, but a second skin with a complex, fully-developed story that I knew intimately. Every action I took in game had a reflection in my head about its impact on that story.
And at one point, earlier this year, as the last of the people I used to role-play with left the server or the faction, I finished off his story line, with the last of his friends carrying a dull, bureaucratic note from the Argent Crusade to his father notating his son's death and returning his arms and armor.
Ever since then, I've felt like I was wearing a dead man's skin. His story was done and over, and yet, I still wore on, continuing his existence, and it really felt weird and wrong. I wanted to change, but I didn't want to say good-bye to Joachim. He was like an old friend. A flawed, weak man who had failed to live up to the challenges of his life, but a friend never-the-less, and I would miss him.
So I tarried, I lingered, I prolonged the inevitable, and as I sat in front of the computer on Tuesday, after dinner, waiting for the servers to come back up, I thought, this was the moment I was waiting for.
We were done with raiding for the rest of the expansion, there was little left for me to do, and if I was going to pull the trigger on Joachim, this was the moment. So I logged into Battle.Net and commissioned a race change.
The process was thankfully brief and painless. When I logged in, I quickly began to switch race, gender, appearances until I settled on something I liked - a Female Draenei - and after typing in a new name, my finger paused for a second before clicking that "Accept" button and then it was done.
When I logged, it was into a new skin, a blank canvas, it felt like I had finally said good-bye to someone that I'd kept on for too long. It was past time.
Rest easy, buddy. I'm sure you and your pony will be happy in whatever Elysian Fields paladins with stained souls find at the end of that long, dark tunnel.