I'd long ago written-off my old WoW account as lost for good. By co-incidence, I cancelled my sub just as Blizzard mandated a BattleNet account to play and, although as far as I remembered I'd done the necessary to convert or combine or register or whatever the instruction was, whenever I tried to take advantage of one of the "Come back, we really miss
At one point I went so far as to open a support ticket about it. After an exchange of emails in which I quoted not only my account details but even the registration codes from the original box I was told categorically that there was no record of my account ever having existed. At that point I gave up any hope of ever seeing any of my old characters again and made a new account instead to take advantage of WoW's excellent F2P until Level 20 scheme.
That was where things would have rested had I not been flipping through some old papers earlier this week, looking for something else entirely, and happened on Mrs Bhagpuss's old BattleNet login information. Once I'd blown the dust off I thought I'd just give it a try and see if it worked. Yes, EULA violation and all that. All in the name of science so it doesn't count.
Well, the experiment kind of worked and kind of didn't. The log-in information was accepted but another registration window popped up. Odd. At that point I thought I'd better at least ask Mrs Bhagpuss if she wanted her Battlenet account re-registered before carrying on so I logged back out. The more I thought about it, though, the more I couldn't remember ever getting a window like that when I tried entering my own details.
I dug around some more and found my old WoW login and password and tried those instead. Stap me if the same "what ridiculous pseudonym would you like to be embarrassed by in years to come?" window didn't appear. So I made up a name, clicked the button and there it was in front of me - my old account.
At first I didn't realize it what had happened. I thought I'd made yet another new account because the character select screen was blank. I made a dwarf hunter and then, as I was about to log him in, I noticed he was on some RP server I'd never heard of. Miraculously, instead of shrugging and carrying on, I thought to go to server select and scroll down the list and there against my old server was the number 9.
Which is how I come to be playing WoW again. All my old characters are there, every one with a bunch of random letters stuck on the end of their name from some Blizzard name-purge, one with a nose-ring I definitely don't remember choosing at character creation, but otherwise as good as new. I recognized about half of them, mostly the ones that were too high level to log in, naturally.
Along with the scatter of throwaways in single figures, below the threshold I found a level 11 warrior and a level 13 druid. The druid is a night-elf (what was I thinking?) so she was out. I logged the warrior (human) in to find she was in Ironforge. Why, I have no idea.
After jogging most of a full circuit of the oddly featureless Dwarven capital trying to re-orient myself, I passed the gateway to the underground tram, one of the things that most impressed me about WoW back when I first played and which has always stuck with me. Couldn't resist another trip. One jolting, exhilarating tram-ride later and there I was in Stormwind again.
I trotted through the cobbled streets, soaking in the nostalgia. Jogged past the long-suffering schoolteacher and her bored and fractious pupils on their educational trip to the big city until I came to the gates. For a moment I stood looking out at Goldshire. It's just amazing how it all comes flooding back.
For an hour or so I pottered around among the trees questing and complaining to myself about the lack of bag space. Some things really do never change. It all seemed just as I remembered until I crossed the bridge into Westfall only to walk right into a homicide investigation. Not just homicide...horse-icide. Old Blanchy lay dead, crushed beneath the wheels of his own cart.
I remember Old Blanchy. I should - I've been using his feed-pouch as a rucksack for five years.
At level 16 now, my warrior is deep in the investigation. Horse-murder is the least of it. We're on the trail of a mysterious Shadowy Figure who seems to be working to bring back the Defias bandit clan. I didn't even know they'd gone. I still can't get used to all the homeless beggars sleeping by the roadside. This is what happens when you have a Cataclysm. Everything goes all to rack and rooney.
Another four levels and the warrior will lock, which, since levels seem to come at the rate of one or two an hour, is going to be a problem if I'm to get to the bottom of this whole mystery. A problem that may have to be solved by the judicious application of money. Yes, it's more than possible I may re-subscribe, not to get a Garrison but just to see how the new old world has changed. And bring Old Blanchey's killer to justice, of course.
Or I may be distracted by some other new shiny and wander off, leaving my characters to idle away their time in loading screen limbo for another few months or even years. It feels good, though, to know that I have that choice again.