I'll keep this brief, because I really don't have a whole lot to say...
Last night, I logged out of Final Fantasy XI for the last time. I left Vana'diel in my favorite spot on Valkurm Dunes, in that cave with the stone monument -- where, years ago, I was in an experience party where I was given a linkpearl for the best group of online friends I'll ever have. I worked for years in a high-stress job with terrible hours, and FFXI gave me an outlet in so many ways. I could lead, have friends, adventure, make money (so much easier to do in virtual life than real life)... really, it was nice to belong to such an interesting community with such a deep, special game to bring us together.
Anyway, life has changed completely over the years. I intended to play both FFXIV and FFXI when the Adoulin expansion launched, but Seekers just didn't really grab me like the previous expansions did. That, and my beloved linkshell fell apart just before the launch of Abyssea. I floated around between a few other linkshells for awhile, but that special in-game social group was no more. And being a storyline guy, I just wasn't really motivated to finish Adoulin. I finished the WoTG storyline and unsubsribed, but didn't really feel like my time in Vana'diel was over. I just needed motivation to finish what I'd started.
Then came Rhapsodies. I finished the first two parts of Rhapsodies last year, and then switched back to chip away at Seekers of Adoulin. Honestly, I never really did get too into that storyline, but it did get better toward the end. I finally finished the Adoulin expansion about a week ago, thanks to some help from a few folks in a new linkshell. Then, early last week, I went on YouTube and rewatched ALL the previous Rhapsodies cutscenes just so I'd remember where I was in that story. I was already about a third of the way through Act 3, so it didn't take long to get to the final fight -- which I beat Saturday night, much to the credit of in-game friend and longtime Zam poster Darkdoom. (And I actually met Darkdoom back at Fan Fest in 2008, when both of us were much younger!)
I made sure to chainspell one last time during that boss battle. I didn't get the killshot, but I drained my MP and won the fight meleeing.
The ending of Rhapsodies was far more satisfying than the Adoulin expansion. I already knew that Rhapsodies would be my finish line, but seeing the game's credits roll sealed the deal. I thanked the folks in my linkshell for the help I'd received from some of them (although really, I didn't know them). And I thanked Darkdoom profusely -- I couldn't have been more thrilled to do one last battle with someone I've known for years. Then, I warped to Windurst -- listened for a minute to that warm, familiar soundtrack -- and then outpost warped to Valkurm. I don't even know if Valkurm Emperor still spawns where he used to (I ran through the area one last time, but didn't see him), then ran to my cave to the southwest.
"Goodbye, Vana'diel!" Thayos shouted the abandoned zone... and then, he was gone.
I'm saying a lot more than I thought I would, but what the ****. Here are some names of people who no longer play -- and they'll probably never see this -- but they meant the world to me back in my golden days:
Zarovich, the beastmaster who earned his Osode.
Kiabrightblade, the most righteous greatsword paladin.
Makina, the taru dragoon who'd give you everything but her polearm.
Aeora, who might hold the record for # of gil sellers D2'd against their wills.
Astoner, who was such a bad*** he fell asleep in the middle of true-sight mobs in a promy.... AND LIVED.
Kaerwyn, one of my few in-game friends who I've actually hung out with in the real world.
Dragel & Jet, who are no longer a couple, but were fantastic teammates.
Gravitusmiasma, my CoP static's amazing taru ninja tank who epitomized "fall down seven times, get up eight!"
Orla, a rock-solid healer, and the first of our core group to hit level 75.
Verrick, another awesome healer, for all the late-night adventures and his impeccable punctuation.
Rayanna, for making dynamis fun and helping me get my duelist hat.. and also for listening when I suggested we tackle Dynamis-Windurst with dual-wielding melee whms.
Gatelord... not a close friend in the game, but a guy who helped us several times during our first climb to 75.
Brotosky, for teaching me the ways of the OG red mage. :)
??????.... a random thief playing from someplace in Europe.. he helped me camp Charby at like 3 a.m. on a Monday. I'd started camping at like 10 p.m. Sunday... and it didn't pop until like 8 a.m. And yes, I GOT MY JOYOUSE!
Daffney, a great ranger and a dedicated leader (and I hope you got that six pack!)
Ziploc, for introducing me to the only video game linkshell/guild/whatever that I'll ever truly love.
There are definitely others who I'm forgetting to include as I write this. Oh, duh! Yeah, one more pretty important name:
Pikko. So many people know Pikko for her work on this site or her ongoing commentary on XI's gardening system. I'll always remember Pikko as that taru who was fishing in Port Jeuno when I gave hear a pearl to my awesome social linkshell... she'd been asking on these forums about joining a CoP static, and I was making one and needed a healer. She hired me as a ZAM writer an admin, and together we had fantastic times both in and out of game. Pikko and I still chat often via social media -- and she actually worked for MY company as a writer for awhile -- so, thankfully, our relationship still goes on.
Anyway, those people MADE my time in Vana'diel what it was. It's only right that in my official goodbye to the game, their names are put out into the FFXI universe. We deserve to go out together.
I don't follow the XI forums much these days, and I don't know how many "old timers" are still around. But thanks to anyone who reads this who helped make this community what it was back in its heyday. The ZAM board was an extension of that in-game magic that neither Wiki nor the official forums could ever reproduce. So, seriously, thank you. Thanks for the help, the laughs, data mining, the arguing, the expert trolling, the Yellow thread -- all of it. Thank you.
I'll still be lurking on these forums, and of course I'll contribute more to the XIV forums, as that has been my primary MMORPG for awhile now... but never again will I log back into FFXI. I'm not going to delete my character data -- I like knowing that Thayos still lives in SE's servers along with so many others who adventured alongside him, like souls of Vana'diel returning to the Mother Crystal.
Thank you, Square Enix. And thanks to the many adventurers of Vana'diel.
I'm hanging up my Duelist's Chapeau... but wow, what a ride.
Edited, May 21st 2017 9:53pm by Thayos