Friday, February 25, 2011

A tale of tarantulas

It all started with a scorpid.

It was during the Burning Crusade era of WoW.  We were limited to three pets and I only had two I was really settled on: Ursa and Atalanta.  I needed a pet for PvP.  Scorpids, with their stacking poison debuff, were all the rage.  I wasn't a huge fan of scorpids at the time (oh, how that has changed now...) and the only ones I had any real connection with were the pink ones in Tanaris.  Unfortunately, these were the bad old days before pet autoleveling, so I opted for one from Terokkar Forest.  I abandoned my black panther through a sea of tears, only to get ganked by two Horde before I could tame my scorpid of choice.  And thus my scorpid was born in a flood of blood.  I named him Orpheus, after the muse Calliope's son.  He was my walking around pet, since we were (and still are) on a PvP server.

Grateful as I was to have him by my side, things were slightly off, since I hadn't gotten to tame the scorpid I really wanted.  Plus, Orpheus was resentful of me for birthing him into a PINK skin.  So when patch 3.0 came out, I started shopping for a new look for him.  I squeezed him into Nuramoc's body, but the pink still outweighed the blue, and he was still very unhappy with me.  So Orpheus did not stay there for long, soon finding himself a new home in a blue crab from Darkshore.  Orpheus was considerably happier being blue, and rather enjoyed playing with pin.  I was happy he was happy and felt more at peace with the whole situation.  I thought this would be his final form.  I was wrong.

I was running hunter-priest in 2s with a friend of mine midway through LK.  He suggested that I get a spider for arena instead of a crab, since web was a ranged root and a non-channeled one at that.  Plus, it was what most hunters in arena were using, despite crab's worthiness and survivability.  I was rather against this idea.  Orpheus was happy and I didn't have room in my stable to tame a sixth pet (the other two were my then-wolf Cerberus and devilsaur Theseus).  Plus, I wasn't a huge fan of spiders.  But I thought about it and remembered that there was one spider in WoW who I felt some affinity with: Chatter, the named brown tarantula in Redridge.  He was always up when I was passing through the zone, so we'd established a familiar sort of bond.  After some consultation with Orpheus, we went over to Alther's Mill and he moved into Chatter's body.  The transformation was amazing!  Orpheus really liked being fuzzy and cuddly instead of having a hard carapace and sharp pointy things protruding from his body.  And thus, Orpheus had taken on his final form.  He would never change again, no matter what gameplay changes there would be in WoW.

Time passed.  Life was good.  But one day late in LK, I deleted a second huntress on the server, Kalli the blood elf.  As heart-wrenching as it was to lose her pets, I just wasn't playing her over there....and ultimately, I needed the space.  I was haunted by the ghost of Hippomenes out of all of her pets (somewhat ironically since he was a ghost in the first place).  He had been her best buddy and loyal companion, as well as being my dear Atalanta's long-distance mate.  I had to get him back, but there was only one pet who I could stand to part with until the expanded stables in Cataclysm: Orpheus.  It broke my heart to do so, but there was no one else I could give up.  Theseus was too hard to get, Ursa and Atalanta were my babies, and I needed Hector (Cerberus already had plans to return to his true form in Cata at that point) to raid.  Orpheus and I camped out in Grizzly Hills for hours upon hours, waiting for Hippomenes to come home again (for the first time, since Kalliope had never had him before).  Eventually, he did, and Orpheus took his leave.

Hippomenes had forgiven me!  I was grateful for that.  But I was still wracked by guilt, since I'd left Orpheus out there alone.  The worst part of it all was that Hippomenes didn't click with Kalliope the way he had with Kalli.  There's only one bear for Kalliope, and that's Ursa.  No exceptions.  I went back and forth with myself for days....weeks.  Tormented, I finally decided to take Hippomenes to Redridge with me and get Orpheus back.  I couldn't last until Cata without him.

Chatter was not there.

My brain rejected this.  It was impossible.  Chatter was ALWAYS up.  An hour passed.  Then two. Orpheus was mad at me.  That had to be why he wasn't there.  I groveled as I paced around Alter's Mill.  I begged his forgiveness.  The third hour passed.  Chatter still had not spawned.  I was frantic.  Orpheus was still furious.  I was losing my mind over a brown tarantula.  I was sitting amongst other brown tarantulas that looked exactly like Chatter.  But they were different.  He was different.  My friends thought I was crazy, even crazier than I'd been when I tamed Hector.  The fourth hour came.  NPCScan went off.  My heart leaped in relief as I targeted my baby and....couldn't find him.  OHMYGODWHEREWASHE?  I panicked, imagining a lowbie coming through the area and destroying him.  And suddenly, I thought to turn around toward the mill....and there he was, just wandering around casually.  The little bugger had snuck up behind me.  I had never seen him spawn there before.  I didn't know he COULD spawn there.  I wept as I let Hippomenes go and brought my baby, my right arm, my fuzzy spider home.  That was Orpheus's true birth.  I hadn't realized how much I truly loved him until that four hour camp in Redridge.  As exhausting as other camps I've done have been (including the eventual ten hour camp that brought Hippomenes home for real), this one was the most emotional camping and taming I've ever done.

The Cataclysm beta opened and Petopians crawled all over it, checking up on changes to existing pets.  I noticed Chatter was among the missing rares.  After what Orpheus, Chatter, and I had been through, I started to worry and asked beta testers to keep an eye out for him.  July gave way to August and September with no sign of him.  But in early October, there was a glimmer of hope.  Vephriel spotted a lone greater tarantula in southeastern Redridge.  He was the only brown tarantula left in the entire zone, so it seemed likely that this was Chatter, but with amnesia.  I accepted the possibility, but still hoped and prayed that Chatter would regain his memory.  November came.  Other previously missing rare spawns, like the strider clutchmother and Shadowclaw were found.  Chatter, however, remained missing, and the tarantula in Redridge stayed nameless.  I visited Chatter often on the live servers, unable to do anything to stop what was coming.  There was almost no time left in the beta....and then it was closed.  Nothing had changed.

The world shattered.  Chatter was gone.

I visited the little red tarantula often, /encouraging him to remember who he was.  It wasn't the same, but I stuck by the little guy.  He was a survivor, and my Orpheus was a survivor - it had to be Chatter.

Time passed and the 4.0.6 patch hit the PTR.  I started hunting for Chatter, but to no avail.  Instead, I came across Rekk'tilac, whom Veph had been dying to meet.  He was HUGE!  My brain could barely handle the possibility that Chatter might really be back - and bigger!  More and more rares popped up, but no Chatter.....until Kurasu found him!  And he was BIG!  Not Rekk'tilac-big, but big!  I couldn't stop smiling for days.  Chatter was really, truly home.

But....there was still that little tarantula in southeastern Redridge.  He wasn't Chatter, but he too survived the Cataclysm.  Veph and I puzzled over the little guy, wondering....  And then, a week after Chatter was found, Veph dubbed the little lost tarantula Chitter.  And it was right.  I immediately hopped on Babykalli (Kalli reborn as a baby blood elf!) and Veph flew me to Redridge on her touring rocket, whereupon Chitter was tamed.

Finally, things seemed to be in place.  But Noah, the Petopia lurker dev, had other plans.  Patch 4.1 hit the PTR and....Chitter was real.  He was now a rare spawn with his real name!  What was left of my brain melted as the little guy raced about the area, much like Orpheus is known to do.  I have plans to tame this little guy officially on my tauren huntress Yoninah to complete the family again with extra tarantula goodness.  I will have more brown tarantulas than I do black bears - and that was the only pet I ever had a duplicate pet of before.  That was the pet that got me into WoW in the first place.  That's saying something.

Between Orpheus, Chatter, and Chitter, my world has been forever changed for the better. <3


  1. I had been wondering about the story behind Chatter, but never really bothered to mention it. I'd figured that your obsession with Chatter was somehow related to Cialbi and Timber, and it seems I was partially right (you had the good fortune of retaming Chatter before The Shattering).

    Pretty special that you can point to a beast in the game, and say that you invented the name (well, technically that was Veph, but your obsession certainly played a role).

  2. Oh, Orpheus was retamed long before the Shattering, so Chatter being missing wasn't the issue. I just got obsessed with visiting him in the wild after that terrible four hour hunt. ;)

    Veph and I both got attached to Chitter during those months where he'd been found and Chatter was still missing. We were both obsessed with tarantulas, since Veph was after Rekk'tilac as badly as I was after Chatter, and he was missing too. So I'd say we both had an equal hand in Chitter's birth, with Dr. Noah performing the delivery. :D

  3. This story is really touching, and it reminds me of how I feel about Hawkbane (I'm now tempted to post that story in my own blog now, ack). I really hope Babykalli will be the first to tame Chitter on her server, you definitely deserve that honor. ^_^

  4. I have Yoninah (my tauren) parked at his spawn point already. :) Babykalli has Chitter already, since she did tame him as a Greater Tarantula. :D Rather than retame him, I'll keep the original Chitter and tame the new real Chitter on yet another character. xD After all, they're both Chitter! Just....different stages of life Chitter. :)