Today was the day. I strolled through the quiet Lumbridge courtyard and confronted Hans. "Have you been here as long as me?" I enquired cheekily.
He replied and told me two things. The first was that he was a veteran of RuneScape, and he could therefore sell me a certain cape. No surprise there. But what did catch the attention of my weary eyes, ridden with half a decade of adventures, was a request. He had heard I was an author at a certain fansite, and it turns out he had been dying to be mentioned in a Tip.It Times article.
At first, I was going to tell Hans that there wasn't a noob's chance of soloing the QBD in mithril armor that I was going to comply with it. But then I paused for a moment and remembered the time I had told him I had come to kill everyone in the castle. I remember seeing the look of horror in his beaded eyes as he backed away in horror, screaming "Help!"
I felt bad, so I promised him, but there was no way I was done talking to him. Slowly I began.
"I remember when I started my journey, filled with naivety. At that time Jagex had recently slapped on a severe trade limit. It was 3k! And although I in my infinite noobiness did not know it, that was a very trivial amount. But gradually, the trade limit was relaxed-5k, then 10k, followed up by a higher trade limit among players who had each other mutually added on each others' friends lists for a certain length of time.
"I remember someone telling me they would give me free membership, so I went ahead and let them log on to my account. Of course, ten minutes later I couldn't log on again, so submitted a recovery form and got it back. Apparently they felt bad because they left a message apologizing using the ignore list and had changed the password back.
"I remember the referendum, the politics, and the poll—which many people claimed was gamed—regarding bringing back free trade. And while they might have good points, I think more of the day that they took off the cap. I had never really had much of an objection to it for whatever psychological reason (the sparse sampling of pay to win games with similar mechanics that I had barely played before?). I was no newbie anymore the day Jagex took off the cap. I had literally raked in millions off the mechanics of the Grand Exchange in a matter of months. I was ready, and it felt almost as if I had been allowed to grow up and thrown out into the world.
"I remember how people talked about veterans back then, too. They spoke distastefully of those who played the game in 2007 and talked wistfully of how the game was then. Given that I was not assuming there would be any positive remarks about me, having started a year later. It's ironic how they have their own game now though, isn't it?
"I remember when the F2P community had a sense of honor, of cohesion, of friendship. I remember us looking spitefully on others for the way they acted in terms of never caring about anything but their own money, xp gain, etc. I did look up to them, and I remember asking one of top free players to add me while runite mining. I remember how it felt when they dismissively said no and logged off.
"I remember being almost invited to a dungeoneering party until the leader said no because I wasn't in a certain clan. I remember finding out she was the leader of that clan.
"I remember the countless hours I spent on runecrafting, and assisting other people at the air altar. I remember the friends chat Truthful Air that monopolized the altar and found a different excuse for their people to crash me at every point. Of course it's silly to think I would hold a grudge against any of those people at this point, but both they and I remember what happened.
"I remember when one would recruit for a clan and the people you would find would stick with you, at least for a while. I remember when all my friends were F2P, until I became the one to convince most of them to buy membership.
"I remember a time before I could list 'I remembers."
Had there been a convenient table, I would have slammed my fist on it for emphasis. Instead I stared vacantly into castle walls, and slowly turned to the servant of Duke Horacio.
"Do you remember it, Hans?" I asked, letting an unintended sense of emphasis on the pronoun slip; two desperate letters clinging on to the vast antecedent, attempting to prevent it from slipping away. He averted my gaze as his eyes searched the castle for some trace of confidence. A cool breeze suddenly blew through, stirring his hair.
"I remember it all, and so much more too. Many good things, some not so much. The things we had, the dreams that never came true, how things changed, not necessarily for the worse . . ." Hans finally replied, his voice dropping to a soft whisper at a funeral as it was carried away by the wind.
"It's gone now."