World of Warcraft wakes. He’s back in the arena basement, shackled by arcane EULAs that glitter like the razor-sharp edges of broken dreams. His body, once youthful and vibrant, is an aged husk, not so much alive as forbidden to die.
He glances at himself in the dirty, cracked mirror and shudders. He considers slitting his throat with the dull blade they allow him for shaving.
No, he thinks. The last time he attempted suicide it was sold as an expansion.
Somewhere below the level of hearing he can feel the vibration of the baying crowds in the arena outside and he knows the reason for his awakening. There is another challenger. Another hopeful, doomed challenger. He steps through dank tunnels and emerges, blinking, into the sunlight.
He casts an experienced eye over his new opponent. The surface contrast could not be more obvious. The newcomer practically sparkles with particle effects and there are more polygons in the newcomer’s hair than in Warcraft’s entire body. But they are not so different, under the surface. The same genre conventions move them, the same financial motivations guide their masters.
Warcraft evaluates the challenger’s stance. Bold, cocky. A hint of fear. Good, so he knows the stakes. The Old Republic is a barely-living monument to the price of failure, slumped to one side of the arena, a dazed look on his face as he continues to bleed subscribers into the sand. Warcraft remembers the look of shock as the license-sabers TOR was wielding shattered beneath his sword.
The newcomer roars a challenge, his own name. Elder Scrolls. So that’s who Warcraft is here to kill. There’s always that flicker of hope. Will this be the one? Will this be the one who finally gives Warcraft his rest? World of Warcraft draws FrostMMOurne, his cursed sword of +12 million subscribers, and prepares to do the only thing he remembers how to do.