In the late nineties Hawkeye Parker was addicted to Everquest. He has since quit, and still keeps the cut up Everquest CD beside his bed as a reminder. To paraphrase Hawkeye, "It got to the point where I had to decide which world I wanted to live in: the real world, or the world of EverQuest. Although that sounds like a rhetorical question, it really wasn't: when I finally quit, I had to give up some very close friends that I had made through the game, and I had to give up doing something that I really, really enjoyed." I asked Hawk if he missed EverQuest, and he looked surprised that I had asked, "Of course, but I'll never go back." Hawk then went on to tell me about a particularly memorable battle.
One day his party set out into a "dungeon", and after a long fight and a few fallen comrades they emerged victorious. Hawk was so hyped up from the fight (and hairsbreadth escape) that he logged out of the game, went outside, and wrote a poem which paid honor to those in his party who had fallen during the battle. The next day when he was back in the game he found some of his comrades and, as his character, recited to them the poem that he had written.
After surprisingly little pleading he has allowed me to make this page and publish "The Lay of Tarii and Hewlit"
The Lay of Tarii and Hewlit
Though one now fallen, in his place
Were two Elites, a Guardsman,
Mightily we fought them all
Though lightness seemed to darken,
And my thoughts did harken
To my days of youth
And other times of darkness
Within Black Burrow's fastness.
The battle became grim.
I watched my comrades fall.
The brave and beautiful Tarii
Vanished from the hall.
Too from that fateful brawl
Wise Hewlit, strong and small.
I watched my comrades fall,
and vowed to slay gnolls all.
Out out we ran and to the Hills
Of Qeynos far beyond,
To rest and wonder at the evil
Lurking, never gone.
In the twisting turning tunnels
Breeding on and on,
Fell gnolls of darkness,
gnolls of darkness,
gnolls of darkness spawn.
A few words about the poem from Hawkeye:
The poem is very specifically about the world of EverQuest, so here are a few details about the game. I'm sure the game has changed a lot since I played, so don't get all worked up if something here isn't current or right:
~ The year and time of the poem is accurate in EverQuest time.
~ Qeynos (anagram: Sony EQ) was the town where my character was "born". That is, where my character started out, and where I started playing EverQuest. It used to be that a new character had to spend a lot of time around his/her starting town until he/she could build the character up enough to venture out into the more dangerous places in the game. This is what I'm talking about in the beginning of the poem: my character has been off adventuring, and I've returned "home"; this was actually true in the game: I hadn't been back there for a long time, maybe since I'd first left.
~ All groups of players in EQ have a leader. Groups band and disband all the time, but each group has a single player that "starts" the group. In this case, that player was Playt.
~ Each character has a class. I can't recall my character's name (!), but I was a Monk, and monks are strongest when they fight bare-handed (my character *did* actually have taped fists). Monks also have an innate power to heal. Playt was a Bard, and so she cast magic spells by singing. Tarii was probably a Ranger, and so she could track specific prey that we wanted to hunt. Hewlit was a Druid, and also, I'm pretty sure, a halfling (which are innately high in wisdom). And Frosts was a Paladin, so he had lots of ability to fight AND heal himself. He was also one of my close friends in EverQuest, and the two of us did a lot of campaigning together. Aside from Frosts (whom I knew outside the game), I had no way of knowing for sure the true age, sex, race, etc. of any of these players.
~ In EverQuest, "dungeon" is a general term which means any area where there's stuff to fight and loot to get. The Black Burrow dungeon was a big network of underground caves, and the home of a tribe of "gnolls", machine opponents (mobs (mobiles)) which look sort of like wolves, but walk upright on two legs.
~ The poem mentions various types of gnolls, like "Commander", "Elite", "Guardsman"; these are all "generic" gnolls with varying strengths, and the names and strengths of these gnolls would be familiar to most players. But, the Splitpaw Gnoll was, I think, the strongest single monster in Black Burrow, also known as a "named mob" (if I remember right). This guy is special, and only "spawns" now and again based on certain events in the game (like maybe a strong group of players killing off a bunch of powerful monsters deep in the dungeon). So, the fact that he showed up and we killed him was a big deal for us. Also, I'd forgotten, but when Splitpaw died, he gave a very long and loud howl; the other gnolls don't do this, and presumably that was the trigger for the following swarm of gnolls.
~ Pretty much all new characters from Qeynos spent a lot of time getting whacked about in Black Burrow. It's the first real dungeon that you can get into, it's close to Qeynos, and it's a great dungeon. Hence, "When young I'd often ventured/Into the Black Burrow maze".
~ It used to be that when you died in EQ, you would be "reborn" at your most recent "bind point", which was hopefully not far from where you died. Then, you'd go on a "corpse run" to recover all of the gear you had on your corpse. During the run, you would be essentially "naked", since all your stuff was on your corpse. So, a corpse run was usually pretty dicey, and could mean multiple deaths (for each death, you lose experience points (not so good); I think this has since changed). Anyhow, this explains the lines, "Tarii had returned by now/To find what she had lost./Hewlit too was close behind," near the end of the poem. Since Tarii and Hewlit died, they're coming back to get the gear from their corpses.
~ "Room of Green" and "Room of Clover" are names of rooms in the dungeon that would be familiar to all players who had spent any time in that dungeon. They're only named by players, not the game, and the names pass via word of mouth and 3rd party docs about the game.
~ a link to an interesting article about the economy of Everquest