[This is Part Three of the three-part Digital Date Night: TERA series, go here to read from the start.]
However, time was pressing and as much as I’d have liked to have seen a bitch-fight, there was a date to be had. Poor old Englebert was likely feeling a bit stood-up by this point and was probably crying into his frisbee.
Jacqui directed Everlyn onward, but the path to the Isle of Dawn was not easy and she was forced to run for miles, climb ladders, hack up rotting zombies and slaughter morbidly obese demons.
All in heels.
It was exciting stuff both for me to watch and for Jacqui to play. TERA’s combat system is “target free”, meaning that the technical process of tabbing through targets and selecting hot-keys had – at least in part – been replaced by a more dynamic, position-and-timing-based system. Or button-mashing as it’s more commonly known. There did seem to be some combo-based technique prompts, but Jacqui was happy to make Everlyn repeatedly slap the opposition with her basic moves.
However, it wasn’t really the ideal preparation for Everlyn’s date, surely she’d break a nail or get something icky on her dress.
Where For Art Thou, Englebert?
After what seemed like enough time for an entire harem of cosplayers to get ready for a night out, Everlyn arrived by winged horse at the Isle of Dawn.
In an unfortunate turn of events, her newly acquired clothing had inexplicably disappeared. Much to her chagrin and with Englebert still waiting, there was no time to go shopping again. Now at least they could finally arrange to meet up and get this date in full swing.
Having wandered off in his boredom, Englebert was nowhere near Everlyn’s arrival platform, but through the magic of whatever the fantasy world equivalent of smartphones are, they were still able to communicate via text. Everlyn and Englebert exchanged anxious whispers;
“Hey beautiful, wanna turn my steering wheel?”
“Any time, handsome.”
It was on: a suitably romantic and isolated spot was picked – a secluded cliff-top overlooking the stunning and colourful landscape.
Still not physically together, but again utilizing MMO magic, the two would-be lovers formed a group and dashed separately across fields, through forests and over bridges toward their destination, eager to meet and hold one another in passionate embrace (or at least awkwardly emote at each other in embarrassed silence).
The anticipation was delicious, and the visual stimulation of the chromatic surroundings rushing past was uplifting in contrast to the earlier muted and dreary beach scenes. Dots moving around the map showed how tantalisingly close they were, with Englebert scaling the vine-covered cliff just before Everlyn’s arrival. Pulses quickened as the fateful moment drew near.
Our hero waited breathlessly to see the vision of pixelated semi-nude beauty that would arrive beside him. Everlyn reached the cliff-top and rushed to the meeting point, dreaming of his strong arms and comically big hands.
The cliff-top was empty.
What dark magic was this? The two instance-crossed lovers stood, hands almost touching, yet kept apart by a thin veil of channel-separated realities.
Oh, the heart-wrenching bitter-sweet cruelty of the digital date – so tantalizingly close, but one plane of existence apart.
Fare thee well, sweet Everlyn. You would have loved my steering wheel.
Now I need a cold shower.
Digital Date Night Index
Part One: A TERA Rising Romance
Part Two: Englebert and Everlyn
Part Three: Server-Cross’d Lovers