I have found a temporary solution to my internet problems, so I decided to overcome my initial resistance, exacerbated by the insecurity of my internet connection, which meant I could not be confident that I could see through any dungeon group I ran, and begin to heal again.
My long-term healer and for several years my main character, only recently displaced in my affections by Millosz, and the freedom of the lone wolf damage dealer, is Paracelself.
Paracelself in a night elf holy priest, who is also a herbalist and an alchemist. He is an alchemical healer named after Paracelsus.
He has seen more complete content than any other of my characters. Alternating with his shadow priest form, which was easier to play back then than today in Legion, he completed the Loremaster achievement (close to all the quests in the Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms continents) prior to Cataclysm breaking the world. He raided Karazhan back in Burning Crusade, but never quite made it much further than that because of time, demands of a parent, and the limitations of my computer system for raiding. Once the looking-for-dungeon tool came out he would play regularly an hour or so a night running two heroic dungeons. He would be complemented by other players about the quality of his healing, although I realise now there were some missing fundamentals in his gameplay. He even completed some of the harder reputation achievements, including The Diplomat and the Guardian of Cenarius.
The other day I pulled him off the shelf, dusted him off, gave him some mouseover healing macros (which I wish I had known about long before) and tried his hand at healing random dungeons and even battlegrounds again.
The thrill of healing returned. It is very much the greatest team role in world of warcraft, and the enjoyment of healing is in part that of participating in a team sport. Even if you are not front and centre (where the tank is), or even registering on those dread damage meters that the damage dealing classes wrongly obsess about, you gain a sense of accomplishment as a healer in getting the team past the boss. It is intense, quick-fire decision making, but a process of judgement and response rather than the fast, reflex-like mechanical repetition of a rotation. Every fight is a unique situation, and although mechanics seem to have become much more central to the game, the healer must always respond to how the mechanics are affecting this set of individual players, with their pitfalls and strengths, in this unique moment.
The fantasy of healing is also immensely satisfying. I turned to healing after failing at tanking (my first real character was a warrior, who I brought up to be a tank, although it was antithetical to my instincts and the slow frames and high latency of my then computer. I know now that melee fighting is not my style, and merely burning down targets from afar is enjoyable but does not give the satisfaction of performing a responsible and difficult role. But then I did not know what I did not know. People would abuse me as a lousy tank. It was dispiriting. Healing saved me for world of warcraft. Healing was something I found I could do well.
Healers heal. Holy healers use the power of light, with gorgeous golden light rays that bless and sanctify their team mates. They serve a purpose beyond more death and decay. They mend and care for other players. I still miss the old days when priests could cast Power Word: Fortitude on other players, which would raise their health or stamina for half an hour. I remember receiving this blessing on non-healer characters as a priest would pass by, and giving it freely to other players myself as an act of random kindness. Yesterday in a battleground Paracelself would stand in the chaos of melee, in which my usual fate is to die quickly and to watch others do the same, and cast prayers of healing, distributing huge doses of health to all nearby players, and all the rogues and all the warlocks could not kill him nor my team mates. Although I do not know how to kill well in player-vs-player combat, I found this moment of winning a battle through the power of healing supremely satisfying. To cap it off in Legion, priests now can go into a holy form, through a talent, Apotheosis, in which they become a radiant angelof holy light, complete with golden wings.
So, Paracelself has now played through the main story lines of the zones Azsuna and Val’Sharah. Both these zones feature quite beautiful, yet tragic stories.
In Azsuna you meet Prince Farondis who is despised by his own people and wracked by his own guilt for a mistake he made that cast them into eternal damnation as the living dead. Yet, as you learn through the quests that this mistake was a tragic choice for good, made in a confrontation with Queen Azshara, who has truly betrayed her people for the power of the dark magic of the Legion, you forgive Prince Farondis and so too do his people.
In Val’Sharah, which is beautifully redolent of my early experiences of world of warcraft playing in the very special night elf zones of Teldrassil, Darkshore and Ashenvale, you encounter an even more tragic story. Ysera, a green dragon, is turned by the satyr Prince Xavius, along with many of the druids of the night elf forest – Cenarius and his followers, even Malfurion Stormrage, the husband of the majestic and beautiful Tyrande Whisperwind. Xavius plunges a red heart of corruption into Ysera, which turns her into a lover of corruption, part of the Emerald Nightmare. Ysera attacks her long-time friends at the besieged Temple of Elune, and the player must fight alongside Tyrande Whisperwind in making her own tragic choice to destroy the corrupted Ysera and to save her husband Malfurion Stormrage, held imprisoned in the Emerald Dream.
When Ysera dies, her corruption falls away. She ascends into the sky, returned to her green dragon aspect, no longer infected with the poisonous red of the Emerald Nightmare. She rises up towards the moon, which is the goddess of Elune, and a tear of light forms like an eclipse from the edge of the moon and crystallises in the central fount of the Tear of Elune. Elune cries for her old friend and precious being Ysera. Paracelself took this tear of Elune to the central hall of Dalaran, and placed it with the other Pillar of Creation he had taken, the Tidestone of Golganneth. There Tyrande Whisperwind thanks Paracelsf for his actions in pushing back the Legion. It brings a tear to an old healer’s heart.