Be afraid, be very afraid. If you're a regular reader, you'll be aware of/appalled at last month's NeverQuest instalment.
In it, I encountered a stalker, who then sent me some photos of herself riding a Space Hopper while wielding a leather whip. It's my own fault really. If I'm going to use my own name and advertise the fact in a national magazine, there's bound to be problems. What's surprising is that this was the first person ever to 'recognise' me. Possibly even more surprising is the fact that another followed immediately.
While attempting to extricate myself from the affections of Lady Elle Semell (of Space Hopper fame), a further beautiful purple-clad woman sashays into view and exclaims: "Steve Hill? THE Steve f***ing Hill!" Eyeing her up, I casually reply: "Yeah, hi."
Hoodimus Yan, for it is she, simply mouths "O_o," whatever that means ('Surprise' - Ed), before welcoming me to the PC ZONE Guild. Immediately overfamiliar, she then starts referring to me as 'Hill', as if she knows me (which in a way she does). "Less of the Hill," I say, to which she hilariously suggests: "Mountain? Grassy knoll?" "Sir is fine," I curtly suggest.
Lady Elle Semell is still lurking, and as a favour to my two fans, I pose for a picture, with me standing in between them both. "Beautiful. Me and two sluts," I murmur
to no-one in particular. Hoodimus Yan somewhat shatters the mood by announcing: "I'm a Welshman with a beard, want to re-think that phrase?"
There's no way back from that, and I leave them to it, discussing beard trimmers and armour ranking while largely ignoring me. It's more than my ego can take and I log out, sullied by the experience.
ARE FRIENDS ELECTRIC?
It's a full six weeks before I step foot back in Old Ascalon, with a pressing deadline the
only incentive. Checking my 'friends' list, I'm relieved to see that Lady Elle Semell is
offline. Furthermore, the PC ZONE Guild appears to be bereft of activity, with the exception of one Hoodimus Yan, who I've missed by a mere 41 minutes.
With no fans to bait it's actually a bit dull, and despite some impromptu party formations, there's not a great deal of chat. I briefly join up with an elfin ginger-haired girl, but nothing really comes of it and I can't even remember her name.
Tragic though it is, I actually find myself craving the attention of ZONE readers. It's
hard to perceive of a lower level of fame (Richard Blackwood notwithstanding), but I
appear to have adopted some kind of attitude: do these people not know how I am? Clearly not, and I log out and do something more interesting instead.
Dipping in intermittently, I fervently check the PC ZONE Guild for activity, but the majority of members haven't been online for weeks. Nevertheless, I lurk around Piken Square, desperately hoping to be recognised - like some tabloid-hungry Z-list celebrity - refusing to embark on a quest unless the participants acknowledge my genius.
NEW FACE IN HELL
It's a bit like fishing, sitting around bored out of my mind waiting for a nibble. Past midnight, with the deadline looming, I finally get a bite. "PC ZONE?" inquires the passing Da Beez. "Heh, you finally getting round to some research then?"
I explain the urgency of the situation, and Da Beez correctly surmises: "Christ, you leave it late don't you? We better get going then." I also point out that I have to review Football Manager 2006 by the morning, and he tells me how he took Maidenhead United to the heady heights of The Championship in FM2005. This isn't the place for football chat though, as we have hordes of feral beasts to smite. A level 20 Monk - to my level 7 Ranger - Da Beez readily takes me under his wing and leads me into the hinterland of Old Ascalon.
HAMMER OF THE GODS
He's a pleasure to work with, and is packing a hefty arsenal of magic. Using his Shield
Of Judgement on me, this enables me to simply wade into a bunch of Stone Elementals and crush them into powder with my Furious War Hammer. If I take a knock, a quick blast of his Healing Breeze sees me back on my feet, with even a touch of Balthazar's Aura thrown in for good measure (no idea).
What was once impossible is now routine, and quests are racked up with aplomb as I reach the heady heights of level 8. We even find time to have something approaching a civilized conversation, and I manage to establish that he works in the cargo centre of Heathrow's Terminal Four.
He seems remarkably normal, and doesn't even offer to send me photos of him straddling a child's toy. That said, he has spent 151 hours playing Guild Wars. As for me: 15, all out.