I’m just minding my own business, taking a shortcut through the forest on my way to hit up Leela in Draynor, when I see smoke in the distance. I follow it until I reach a clearing in the trees, where four adventurers are camping out by a bonfire. There’s a wizard, a monk, a warrior, and a lady archer. All pacing around, looking distressed.
“Hello wizard, what are you all camped out here for?” I ask the wizard.
“We are looking for Zanaris,” he replies.
“What’s Zanaris?” I ask, excited to try a new cleaning product or party drug.
“You airhead,” the warrior snarls at the wizard. “Are you really going to tell everyone who comes by? We don’t want competition.”
“What do you mean, ‘everyone’,” drawled the monk with disdain. “He’s the first soul we’ve seen in weeks. And I thought the monastery was lonely.”
“I’ll take it from here, boys,” says the lady archer, grabbing me by the shoulder and rushing me aside.
“Billy. Listen,” she says, relaxing her grasp and letting me go. “Zanaris is the Lost City of the fairies, but we’ve been looking for it since early ’02. I want you to imagine being the only female in a group of bros, testosterone-driven bros, all trying to impress you and one-up each other. Are you imagining it?”
“I want you to imagine them competing over you, trying to win your heart even though you made it clear you’re just a friend and colleague. Are you picturing that?”
“And I’m just a walking pair of tits to them. For fuck’s sake, I won the Varrock archery contest, do you know how fucking qualified that makes me?”
With a twang of her bow, she shoots a bird out of midair without even looking up. It thuds on the grass with a pitiful squawk.
“So, ‘go questing,’ they said. ‘Go out and be an adventurer,’ they said. And I get stuck with this lot. Fourteen long, awkward years of tone-deaf sexual innuendo and condescension. Fourteen years of ‘ooh I’m cold, would you like to move your sleeping bag closer to mine?’ And ‘want to see some real magic, baby?’ And, ‘I’m a man of the cloth, you can trust me.’ I swear, sometimes it feels like I’m the only girl in rscrevolution.”
“Yes, it must-“
“You think I’m not a fucking girl? You think I’m just faking for attention?”
“No, of course not-“
“Look, Billy. Find Zanaris, so help me god. Free me from my obligations here. Otherwise, I better not see you around these parts ever again. Capeesh? Now find the leprechaun in the forest, he holds the secret.”
She shoves me, then looks over at the other adventurers then back at me, feigning an air of rage. “That’s right, we’re not telling you anything! Now get lost!”
Minutes pass, then hours, when I finally see a little man scurrying from treetop to treetop. Using my quick reflexes, I grab him and wrestle him to the ground.
“Me charms, me charms, you’re after me charms, REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” he protests in a thick Irish brogue.
“I don’t want your charms, I need to find Zanaris,” I explain.
“Ay you big elephant, Old Shamus will tell ya that then. You’ll needta go deep into the Isle of Entrana, deep down in her belly. Hew from the great Dramen tree a solitary branch. Take ‘er ta the little shed in the nearby swamp, and fairy magic will take ye to Zanaris, the Lost City.”
I walk West to Port Sarim and speak with a Monk on the dock.
“So, you seek voyage to the place where the good lord, Holy Saradomin himself first set foot upon the world. Well, before you come to the Blessed Isle of Entrana, you must agree to leave all your weapons behind. Violent intentions, actions, and thoughts are not permitted. Do you swear this, Saradomin be praised?”
“I swear it.”
“Great, enjoy your new life as a monk!”
The Island is pretty boring. There’s a lot of glassblowing to be done, and there’s a kebab. There’s an old Crone lady, some chickens, some seaweed and a red fire bird running around on the beach. But no Dramen tree.
Finally, my search takes me to the entrance to a spooky dungeon.
“Oh,” says a monk, “don’t go down there. That’s, like, evil or whatever.”
I descend into the dungeon and run headfirst into a horde of zombies wielding axes. I require a hatchet to chop the tree, so I fight an undead. He doesn’t drop the axe. I fight another. The axe disappears.
I am there for minutes, hours, perhaps days. It feels like weeks. There is no time in this place, there is no aid, there is no one to hear me scream. There is no axe.
Suddenly, a breakthrough as one of the felled undead drops an iron axe upon the ground. I take it in hand, chopping my way through a team of large red demons, until I reach a grotto with a tall, unholy looking tree. I take a strong, solid swing at the base of the tree. The earth shakes, and all the torches dim. Cold mist siphons out from the tree and coalesces into a terrible specter, a massive, haunting spirit that chills me to the bone and casts the entire corridor into shadow.
The Tree Spirit takes a deep, rattling breath and then shrieks, “U CHOPP MY TREE meatballs ?”
“SO”, it bellows, “WAN FITE THIS 1 V1 ? R U 2 PUSAY LOL !”
I had made a promise to the High Priest not to do any fighting on his holy island. But sometimes, promises have to be broken.
“Pot up bitch.”
The Tree Spirit has no boxing expertise, and I pummel him into smithereens like Diaz vs McGregor. I take two branches as trophies, cut them into staves, and teleport back to the swamp.
The Diaz-McGregor reference was topical at the time.
There’s this little Shrek-ass outhouse in the middle of the swamp, I assume it’s the one the Leprechaun was talking about. When I go in, there’s nothing but custodial supplies. But wait, there's more! The world begins to shimmer…
…all things dematerialize and I am whisked away by the sound and fury of a storm, then everything is bubbles and shimmers like glitter, and BAM, I’m in a torch-lit underground castle, with a bunch of fairies prancing around and giggling. There’s a fairy queen, fairy shopkeepers, fairy bankers, and a couple half-men floating around with no legs offering ore and bar certifications. There’s some invisible alien guys wearing black wizard robes called “Otherworldly”, and a sweet ass marketplace that just sort of ends in a void with no walls with a foreign merchant who I scam with overpriced cabbage.
He actually does offer to buy cabbage for an overpriced amount, but since you have to pay a diamond to get in it's not worth it. My scam is busted
All and all, I can sort of see why Zanaris got lost since it doesn’t really offer anything. Well, I did get this Kylo-Ren-looking-ass red sword which is pretty cool.
When I head back to Draynor to finally visit Leela, I make a point to walk through the adventurers' camp toting my sword and other Zanaris merch, to looks of sheer awe, horror, envy, and in the case of the lady archer, relief.
Lost City: 3.5/5 red lightsabers, short and sweet, new areas, high payoff.