The other night I got a ping on Facebook Messenger from an old friend.
Around the same time PC was starting up, another blog about pugging instances to L80 began posting. The blog, Pugging Pally, soon showed up on my radar via the late blogs Righteous Orbs and The Pink Pigtail Inn, and over the course of several months the owner of the blog, Vidyala, and I became friends. Over the years, she completed her Pugging Pally experiment and went on to create a new blog, Manalicious, featuring her Mage, Millya. She also wrote the Mage column for WoW Insider for a few years, but she is probably most well remembered in the WoW/Blogger community for the webcomic she began with another friend and blogger, Rades: From Draenor With Love.*
From Draenor was one of those webcomics that really sunk its hooks into you and never let you go. I, of course, knew both Rades (from Orcish Army Knife) and Vidyala, so I had a personal reason to keep up with the webcomic, but it was nice to see that they'd developed a following over the years FDWL was active. Rades and Vid had a defined story with an ending in mind, and they stuck to their guns. It's been a few years since FDWL ended, and the website
is no longer active was hacked and taken offline, which greatly saddens me, but even though both Rades and Vid had largely moved on from their blogging activities by then it was always a great reminder of how things were in the mid to late 2010s.
So when Vid pinged me and asked if we could talk, I stopped what I was doing and waited for her phone call.
The moment I said hello, I knew something was wrong.
"Is everything okay?" I remember asking.
"No, it's not," Vidyala replied, her voice breaking. "Red, Rades died."
"What?" I asked, stunned. "Oh no! What happened?"
"We're not sure yet." Vid paused for a moment to collect herself, and then told me how they discovered him.** She then apologized about crying and being a mess, which I assured her was no problem at all. If I hadn't been so stunned about the turn of events, I'd have been crying too.
Even now, a couple of days later, I'm still having trouble processing this.
I kept myself busy at work, and doing some research on some bosses for the upcoming Phase 2 raids, but I kept returning to the phone call, and my helplessness at being unable to do anything. Rades lived on the other side of the continent, and Vid lived a Province away from him, and there was no way I could simply drop everything and go out there.
I wanted to tell the world about this immediately, but Vid requested that I keep quiet so that she could reach out to people and inform them separately. She didn't want people to find out about something like this via a post or a Tweet. "Okay," I replied. "Sounds good. I'll wait a few days."
As it turns out, she pinged me last night to let me know that she'd gone ahead and Tweeted about it, so I could publish my post.
But the problem is that I don't know how to say what I want to say. I've started this post about a half dozen times and I lose my way each time.
Rades was smart, funny, and also very very shy. Vid related a story to me about the time the two of them first met face to face, and how she asked what is favorite food was so that they could go grab something to eat. Rades kind of hemmed and hawed about it, finally saying something along the lines of "Steak.... and potatoes... I guess...." When I told the story to my oldest, she laughed and said that Rades sounds "exactly like my brother!"
And if you'd read any of his numerous posts about Azeroth, you'd see the humor within. From his Fabulor posts to his Onion-style news reports, Rades enjoyed poking fun at the absurd in Azeroth.
|From Fabulor's Love Fool Guide,|
found on www.orcisharmyknife.com.
What I will remember Rades the most for, however, are the times he participated in NaNoWriMo. He could have just as easily written a complete work of fiction, but Rades put his own spin on the concept twice by writing a series of fictional letters, entitled Letters from Northrend (2010) and Letters from a Shattered World (2011). Getting inside the head of a ton of WoW NPCs and publishing them as separate correspondence was both classic Rades and an impressive feat by itself.
I was always in awe of his writing talent; he could pump out posts with such regularity and high quality that I wished I knew what his secret was. Knowing Rades, though, he'd probably shrug and say that he just wrote what he felt like writing.
With his talent for storytelling and plotting, it was no surprise that I found out that he played D&D. He must have been a helluva person to game with; could you imagine him as your DM? You'd always have to be on your toes and have an encyclopedic knowledge of the storyline, because Rades was always thinking about 4-5 steps ahead of everyone else.
As sad as I am that Rades has left us, I'm sadder still for those whose lives he touched and won't be able to see him again. We were friends via our mutual love of WoW and blogging, but we weren't close. I wish there were words I could convey to comfort those, such as Vidyala, whom he meant so much to. When Vid told me that her best friend was dead, it tore me up inside. I may have lost family to Covid, but nothing like this.
Remembering Rades is a good thing, but being respectful of those who want to just shut down for a while is important, too. Give them space and time to grieve, but be ready to be there for when they need you.
I miss you, Rades. I miss your humor, your love of words, and your love of gaming. Even more than that, I miss you because of what you meant to so many other people. I have no idea if you ever realized just how much you meant to us.
To those of us still here, maybe the best way to honor Rades is to reach out to someone to let them know how much they matter. Be there for them for a while. Listen to them, and give them a hug, virtual or not.
Thank you, Rades. Life isn't the same without you, but I'm glad we met and got to know each other.
Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo.
*Vid told me the website had been hacked, and she and a friend are working on restoring it.
**Which will remain private.