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Serendipity

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“I’ll rest a year and then come back.”

Watching Ye Xiu’s retreating figure, Su Mucheng could feel the sting of cold on her face and the burn of tears behind her eyes. She didn’t want to cry; she wanted to be strong, but she couldn’t help it.

So long, after so long, after all the sweat and tears Ye Xiu had poured into Excellent Era, this was how it ended.

Ye Xiu had only said those eight words before he left, walking through the snow and leaving Su Mucheng standing at the front of the Excellent Era club building. She watched as he walked away step by step, further and further away from her and everything he had built…

Until suddenly, he stumbled, his form crumpling to the ground.

Su Mucheng startled, her shock freezing her in place for a split second before she rushed to his side.

“Ye Xiu!” At a time like this, Su Mucheng didn’t have the mind to spare to remember to call Ye Xiu by his alias. Hovering over his fallen body, Su Mucheng wasn’t too sure what to do for a moment, her heart thudding in panic, but when Ye Xiu groaned and shifted, she quickly helped him sit up, letting him lean against her. He was rather light, thankfully, and Su Mucheng easily took his weight.

His eyes fluttered, squinting up through the snow at her face… Wait.

Wait.

What?

Su Mucheng stared.

And then she stared some more.

She opened her mouth to speak.

Then she closed it again without speaking.

“Mucheng?” Ye Xiu murmured, disoriented. His voice was light, soft and, at first, he didn’t realize anything was wrong. But then he looked up through the falling snow and saw Su Mucheng staring down at him, wide-eyed, and his brow furrowed in worry. “Mucheng?” he asked again, startled and a little more clear-headed this time. “What’s wrong?”

“You… I…” Su Mucheng stuttered for a moment before suddenly whispering, “Oh my god. Oh my god.” Then she proceeded to gape at him for a good moment.

Now Ye Xiu was really getting worried. “What is it?” he asked. Then, he paused at the sound of his own voice. Something… was off. His voice sounded different. Really different. His expression twisted in puzzlement.

“Can you stand?” When Ye Xiu nodded, Su Mucheng quickly pulled him up by the arms, with such surprising ease that they both almost fell over again. Ye Xiu then stumbled further, stepping on the hem of his trousers.

By the time he regained his balanced, Ye Xiu realized something definitely wasn’t right. Something big. His entire body felt off. However, before he could figure out what had happened or ask Su Mucheng about it, the latter told him, “Wait here, and don’t go anywhere.” With that, she turned and darted right back for the Excellent Era building, gone like the wind and leaving a confused and still slightly disoriented Ye Xiu behind.

Ye Xiu blinked once. Then he blinked twice. And then he turned to face the glass windows of the nearest building and froze. He reached out with his hand – his visibly smaller hand - and touched the reflection of his face.

He really wasn’t one to swear, but, “What the fuck?”

Staring back at him with a look of shock was his teenaged self.


Back in the meeting room, the others were still chatting after Ye Xiu and Su Mucheng had left.

“This person… he has a lot of stories!” Having heard the tale of Ye Xiu’s charitable activities, Sun Xiang lifted up the One Autumn Leaf card that Ye Qiu gave him. He knew that Ye Qiu had made this account long before the Professional Alliance had been created. Used all the way up until now, this card was one of Glory’s oldest accounts.

“Okay, let’s not talk about him anymore. The boss is busy today and can’t come. But he gave me this bottle of aged red wine from his collection just for your welcoming,” the manager said.

“Ha ha, thank you very much! With me, Excellent Era will shine once again!”

Sun Xiang smirked.

Then the door slammed open.

Everyone fell silent and turned to look at who had so rudely interrupted and stared in surprise at Su Mucheng, who ignored their gazes, looking around the room with narrowed eyes.

“Su Mucheng?” Cui Li called out in confusion. What was she doing back here so soon?

He was ignored, and Su Mucheng instead zeroed her gaze in on one of the youngest members of the team, Wang Ze, who flinched at her gaze.

Had he done something to incur the wrath of the Goddess of the Alliance? She looked… determined. Determined… and pissed off.

Su Mucheng stalked over with quick strides.

Cui Li startled. The image of Su Mucheng going up and punching Wang Ze in the face suddenly surfaced in his mind. But why Wang Ze? “Su Mucheng, what…” his startled voice trailed off as Su Mucheng quickly snatched the baseball cap the trembling Wang Ze had.

“I’ll be borrowing this, thanks,” she said curtly before darting back out of the room.

Everyone watched her go, speechless, as Wang Ze let out a small breath of relief.

That had been absolutely terrifying.


When Su Mucheng returned, it was to Ye Xiu staring at his own reflection with a conflicted expression. This was the first time she had seen him look so worried; not even Excellent Era kicking him out had made him look so anxious.

It broke her heart.

He turned back to her when she approached, also worried for him, and said with a solemn, serious expression. “Mucheng, what if this affects my hand speed? You don’t think it will, right? What about my mechanics? My muscle memory? It won’t be erased, right? I need a computer now, Mucheng. It’s an emergency.”

“…”

Never mind.

Heart hardened back up and reassured that Ye Xiu was taking this perfectly fine and was perfectly fine apart from the change in age, Su Mucheng slammed the baseball cap down on Ye Xiu’s head and shoved a pair of glasses onto his nose. She then quickly put a baseball cap of her own on and a mask.

Ye Xiu blinked rapidly, once again disoriented. Before he could recover, Su Mucheng took him by the arm and quickly led him across the road as he stumbled and tripped along.

It was actually kind of cute, Su Mucheng thought, suppressing a smile. He must not be used to the difference in height and shift in his center of gravity, which was why he was tripping all over the place.

Su Mucheng led Ye Xiu to a convenience store on the opposite side of the road, pulling him inside even as he spotted Happy Internet Café right next door, his eyes lighting up.

“Mucheng, that place is perfect. Wait—I need to make sure my hands are ok!”

“It won’t be a moment,” Su Mucheng replied to his panicked wailing, snatching a random bottle of hair dye off the shelf. “We have to make sure you aren’t recognized.”

The clerk at the counter gave them an odd look, but scanned the dye anyways.

“Why?” Ye Xiu asked, confusion evident in his voice.

“Thanks,” Su Mucheng thanked the clerk and paid before dragging Ye Xiu back out and answering his question. “It’s to protect you.” By now, Ye Xiu had regained most of his balance and managed to get mostly used to the change in his body. All he had to do was watch out for his trouser legs.

“What?” Ye Xiu just sounded more confused, but he forgot all about that when Mucheng pulled him right into Happy Internet Café.

To his disappointment, Su Mucheng didn’t give him any time to get a computer. Instead, she stormed up to the counter and asked for directions to the bathroom, which the girl there gave them, wide eyed in bewilderment.

Ye Xiu was then dragged in the direction of the bathroom.

He wanted to cry. All he wanted was to get a computer. And since when did Mucheng get so strong???

Mucheng pushed him towards the men’s room and shoved the dye into his hands.

Ye Xiu looked down at the dye then back up at Su Mucheng. Su Mucheng put her hands on his shoulders -he irritably noticed she was about a centimeter taller now - looking at him solemnly. “Trust me, Ye Xiu,” her voice was slightly muffled by the mask, “It’s to protect you. Now go dye your hair.”

Ye Xiu had no idea how hair dye was going to protect him, but it looked like she wasn’t going to let this go. He sighed, giving in.

He was willing to do whatever would get him in front of a computer faster.

Mucheng closed the door after him and stood guard as he looked over the instructions and hurriedly dyed his hair with the given hair dye.

He came out of the bathroom with blood red hair.

Mucheng took one look at him and her solemn demeanor was gone as if it was never there. “Pfft.” She couldn’t hold back a slight laugh, putting her hand over her mouth.

Ye Xiu gave her an exasperated look. “You chose the color.”

“I grabbed the closest one,” Su Mucheng smiled sweetly.

Honestly, it didn’t actually look that bad.

Chapter Text

Ye Xiu stared flatly at her. Really? Did she not know how difficult it was to dye a hair as dark as his this bright of a colour? Thankfully, the box kit she had bought came with bleach and gloves as well, but he hoped none of the employees would go to check the restroom anytime soon. He didn't want to get accused of murder.

“Can I get on a computer now, Mucheng? Are you satisfied?” The chemical smell stung his senses, but he wanted to check his mechanics more than he wanted to rinse off the dye remnants. 

Su Mucheng was silent for a moment, her laughter fading away, only to burst into giggles again. She couldn’t stop herself and braced her hand against the wall, her other hand clenched tight at her chest as she tried to calm down. Every time she glanced back at the annoyed pout gracing Ye Xiu’s face, however, all her efforts went to waste. If she looked a bit closer, she could even see how messy his dye job was, his scalp a bright red and forehead smudged with bloody fingerprints beneath his bangs.

Yet, his unrefined makeover simply made him too cute when combined with his unnatural deaging! Formerly thin and sharp cheeks filled out, looking inexplicably squishy and chubby. His lips were plumper than before, surprisingly, and rosy pink from his white teeth biting down on them. It seemed like the consequences of his chain smoking had all but disappeared.

Against his pale skin, the blood red locks accentuate his features even further. Su Mucheng suddenly stilled, her eyes widening in realisation.

Serendipity!YX #headshot

 

Everyone is going to be chasing after him even more, so should I prepare popcorn in advance?  Should I arrange for bodyguards? Protection?  She then brushed that train of thought away and contemplated for a moment before asking Ye Xiu, “How will you even register for a computer? You’ve seen yourself.” He looked far too young to be the age his identification papers claimed.

“Eh, just let me handle it.” It was nothing new, after all. So what if he seemed to have magically deaged? As long as his skills remained the same, this was like a new lease on life. This solved the looming threat of ageing as well; the lingering aches in his joints disappearing without a trace, his vision as sharp as ever. He had not known his body had deteriorated so much until he regained his youth. 

Not giving Su Mucheng a chance to impede him in his quest for a computer any longer, he strode up to the front desk, a serious look crossing his face. Stuffing his hand into his now oversized jacket, he withdrew his ID card and bank card before passing it over to the young lady manning the station.

She didn’t do anything but give a cursory glance at his age, her gaze flicking up to make sure it was actually him before signing him in and charging the fee to his card. Just before she finished the transaction, the next open computer on the tip of her tongue, an older woman with long hair pulled back into a ponytail snatched the two cards out of her hands.

The evening shift manager, startled at the cards suddenly being yanked from her hands, looked up. “Boss?” she asked, confused.

Chen Guo ignored her and compared the card to the teenager in front of her. “What are you trying to pull?” she demanded. This kid was obviously not twenty-five like the ID card he handed over said he was.

Ye Xiu froze and then glanced at the cards in her hand. He looked up at her from beneath his lashes, his eyes widening slightly. With the pair of simple black-framed glasses magnifying his eyes, he was able to pull off a perfect doe eyed look. “What’s the matter, boss? I just wanted a computer.”

“Using a fake ID card? Where are your parents?” She gave him a once-over, taking in the slightly oversized clothing, wear and tear evident at the joints. At first glance, it would seem like the teen in front of her just wore the clothes often because he liked them, but the threads were a bit too frayed and stained. If he liked the clothes that much, he would have taken better care of it. Then again, boys would be boys, so maybe she was wrong?

She narrowed her eyes. No, she was sure she was on the right track, the traces of hesitance and fear in the redhead boy's body language all she needed to confirm that she had the right to be suspicious.

“My family...they…” Ye Xiu trailed off, his eyes dropping to his feet. Without him saying another word, Chen Guo learnt all she needed to know. Obviously, he was a runaway! She walked up to grab him by the arm to drag him to the police station.

A boy his age should not be left alone to fend for himself!

She dragged him past another woman standing near the door, a baseball cap and mask hiding most of her appearance from the public. Chen Guo paid her no mind and tugged the struggling redhead—who had obviously dyed his hair just recently, the smell of bleach and chemicals was way too strong otherwise—toward the exit. His parents were most likely worried sick about their kid going missing.

“Let me go! They won’t care if I return anyway.”

Chen Guo froze. “What?” Her grip on the teenage boy loosened enough for him to wrench himself free.

“They won’t care. They have my older brother, so what’s the point? I’m just a spare.” Ye Xiu looked away from her, his face slightly flushed from all the energy he spent trying to break free. What was it with all these people being so much stronger than him?

“How long have you been away from home?” she asked softly, her heart softening. This kid...had to deal with such things? What was wrong with society? A heir and a spare? Who knew that this concept still existed.

“Years,” Ye Xiu admitted. He glanced at the minimally disguised Su Mucheng a few paces away. “Big Sis has been taking care of me though. See? I brought her along too.”

Chen Guo followed his gaze and saw a girl perhaps five years her junior standing to the side. A simple white mask covered the lower half of her face, while a blue baseball cap hid most of her hair, though Chen Guo could spy a few stray strands of light brown hair peeking through.

Su Mucheng bounced forward, her happiness evident. He called me Big Sis! She grinned beneath her mask and pulled Ye Xiu flush against her side. “What’s the matter, little brother?”

Pouting, he complained, “This lady tried to drag me outside and won’t let me get on a computer. You promised I could!”

Su Mucheng looked apologetically at Chen Guo. “I’m sorry about him, but I did promise that he could get on the computer. My workplace decided to enact a new policy, so I can’t bring him along anymore. It’s close by to your internet cafe, though, so I thought myself lucky. I can allow him to stay here, can't I? He couldn’t use one of the computers back there like he normally could.”

“We don’t allow minors,” Chen Guo revealed. The boy couldn’t be more than sixteen, seventeen if she really pushed it.

“I’m eighteen, boss. Do I really look that young? Big Sis, what do you think?” Ye Xiu glanced at Su Mucheng, drawing Chen Guo’s attention to his height. He was shorter than average, which was why she thought he was a minor in the first place. Maybe he was just unfortunate?

“You’ll always be my little brother.” Su Mucheng smiled and then turned to face Chen Guo. “Can he stay here?”

“I guess, but you shouldn’t have a fake ID, young man,” Chen Guo scolded. She walked over and scanned the bank card. “Area C, Number 47. How long do you plan to stay here for?”

Su Mucheng looked at the time and apologised again. “I really need to go back to work; I left in a hurry. You can handle yourself now, right?” Her voice grew sharp at the end, warning Ye Xiu to not reveal himself and to not do anything outrageous.

This was Ye Xiu though, so he just flashed a grin and nodded. He opened his mouth to say he wanted the computer for the entire night, but something in the corner of his eye caught his attention. He walked closer to the abandoned computer and read through the notice on the desktop screen. He turned back to Chen Guo and asked, “Is your internet cafe still hiring? The notice is still up on your cafe’s homepage.”

“Ah…” There wasn’t really an opening, but from what that young woman had said, it seemed like the boy would be left on his home a lot. His sister, in name in all likelihood since they look nothing alike, was probably doing her best to support the both of them on her lonesome. Furrowing her brows slightly, she asked, “Do you have any experience?”

“I feel that I match all of the qualifications. Pay isn't a problem as long as I can use the computer. How about it? Consider it for a moment, boss. I have nothing else to do while Big Sis works, and I’ll be here often enough, anyway,” Ye Xiu persuaded.

“You’re not attending university?” Chen Guo asked, brows furrowed. Once she voiced this thought, however, she wanted to smack herself. If the sibling duo was finding it hard to make ends meet, they obviously couldn't afford the university fees!

“What’s the point? I just want to sit in front of a computer and play Glory.”

“You play Glory? Wait, of course you do. Which gamer doesn’t play Glory. Were you that eager to get onto a computer because of the new server opening?” Chen Guo asked.

“New server?” Ye Xiu looked at the calendar by the front desk. December 3rd was tomorrow; so the tenth server was opening? It had been ten years since he started… Wait, he was getting distracted. If the tenth server was opening, that meant he needed to make sure his handspeed and mechanics were unaffected as soon as possible!

“Do you sell account cards—wait, as long as the account is level one, it can be transferred to another server, right?” Ye Xiu suddenly asked.

“Yes, that's right,” Chen Guo confirmed. “You plan to start a new character?”

“Yea, it’s not like I have my old account anymore.” Ye Xiu frowned, thinking of that newcomer snatching away One Autumn Leaf.

“Hm? What happened to it?” She was rather curious, because most people treated their account cards as if they were made of precious gold, especially their first accounts. Only those who made a profession out of raising accounts and selling them would not feel the ache of being separate from their account.

“I do not have my original account anymore,” Ye Xiu said in a helpless tone. It wasn’t like he had a real choice in that exchange an hour ago.

“Oh...” Chen Guo sighed with sorrow. Even if it might not be a high-level account, any person as enthusiastic as this teenager would have placed a lot of effort into raising it. From his tone, it seemed like he had to part with it in a heart-wrenching manner.

“Yeah, I hope they take care of it.” Ye Xiu tried to smile to convey that it was no big deal, but it looked more like a grimace than a smile. His previous account was titled 'Battle God' for a reason—One Autumn Leaf had slaughtered all foes he had encountered on the battlefield, staining the earth crimson with blood. One Autumn Leaf had been his partner for nearly a decade, and though he had known that retirement would eventually separate them, he had not been prepared for it to happen so abruptly.

Whether he would have ever been prepared, he did not know.

Chen Guo blinked, only to still see the same dated colouring. The account card he just pulled out, it was the exclusive account card released when Glory launched, wasn't it? “You're transferring a level 1 account from the first server?” How come he had a first-edition card? This guy would have only been what, eight years old when the first server opened? Those first-edition cards were seen as high-end collectibles by devoted fans, regardless of the level or rank. To even have a level 1 account from the first server was even more extraordinary.

“It is,” Ye Xiu said, his smile turning slightly more natural. He stowed his wallet back into his pocket and inserted in the account card to the card reader. He casually opened Glory’s homepage while he was at it and began transferring the account card to the tenth server.

“How did you get it?” Chen Guo furrowed her brows even deeper. How could he afford a limited edition account card when his financial situation was not secure? He didn't seem irresponsible, and neither did his sister.

“Oh.” Ye Xiu realised why his possession of the account card would seem odd. “Uh...well…” he trailed off. What could he say? “Big Sis had a big brother. He played when Glory first came out, but...he got into an accident. She told me stories about him and how he used to love Glory, so that’s why I began playing. The card is his.”

Chen Guo stilled. Oh, so it was like this. She had placed her foot in her mouth again. She glanced at Ye Xiu and saw the homepage flash with the words: 【Server Transfer Successful】.

“Done.” Withdrawing his card and exiting the homepage, he turned to face Chen Guo again. “Right, so do I have the job?”

“You want to become a network manager?” It was quite a large role, especially for someone as young and probably inexperienced as him, but she could keep an eye on him easily if he was at the front desk. Plus, he was just a glorified receptionist most of the time. She kept the systems pretty up-to-date, so there was barely any troubleshooting needed.

“Yes.” Ye Xiu bobbed his head, his blood red hair swishing back and forth against his cheeks.

“Alright, you’re taking the day shifts. I don’t care if you’re a night owl or something; you need your sleep if you want to grow any taller.” She patted Ye Xiu’s head. Huh, his hair was already dry from the dye...and surprisingly fluffy and soft. She kept patting his head, ruffling it slightly and essentially forgetting where she was.

“Uh...alright. I don’t mind the night shift though.” Ye Xiu awkwardly stood there. He could just slip away, but this was his boss now. It was better not to aggravate her too much, considering she nearly kicked him out earlier for looking young.

“I’ll talk with your sister when she returns,” Chen Guo compromised. She really did need a night shift manager, as not many were willing to adjust their hours to deal with the day-night change. Besides, the sibling pair might need the extra income given to those who worked the night shift. “You’re hired then.” She clapped her hands to finalise their verbal agreement.

“Alright, alright, is there a specific computer I should use?” Just as he said this, his stomach grumbled. Oh, right, he hadn’t eaten in...when did he last eat? What did he last eat? Furrowing his brows, Ye Xiu tried to recall his last snack. He could vaguely recall passing by a peddler selling tangyuan a few hours ago. It was a bit fuzzy, since it was not a very noteworthy event other than the peddler tricking him into buying a bowl by offering a taste... Wait, did he even pay for it? Whoops.

“You haven’t eaten? Come with me; there’s food in the back. You shouldn’t play games and neglect your health. You’re still a growing boy! Don’t you want to grow taller than your sister and protect her?” Chen Guo rambled as she led him toward the break room in the back, steering him by the shoulders. "The tenth server doesn't open for an hour or two, but since it's late, you should only have something light or you'll get indigestion."

“Ah…” Ye Xiu could do nothing but follow. He felt that any argument he may bring up would be ignored. In addition, he couldn’t break out of her grip even if he used all of his strength to try and break free. When they passed the sister at the front desk, she merely waved at him in amusement even when he sent her a pleading look. 

Chapter Text

 

 YXnomnom

Chen Guo watched the teenager before him shovel food into his mouth at rapid speed. The pace at which the burger and chips were disappearing informed her of just when exactly was the teen’s last meal.

“Slow down, you’ll end up choking.” She warned, and right on cue, Ye Xiu started banging on his chest in an attempt to open up his throat. “See, what did I tell you? Here, drink this,” she said, moving the drink cup closer to Ye Xiu.

Ye Xiu quickly grabbed the cup, taking long drags of the drink through the straw.

“Thanks.” He went back to devouring the remainder of his food.

“When did you last eat?” Chen Guo asked, worried about the kid who had ran away from home. “Isn’t you sister feeding you well?”

Ye Xiu frowned; the thought of Su Mucheng being the one looking out for him was slightly unnerving. It had always been the other way around, or he hoped it was the other way around. He did not want to trouble her more than he always did.

“Sis feeds me well; I’m just a growing boy as you said. We growing boys need more food than normal people,” he joked.

“I don’t think I like your tone, young man.” Chen Guo sniffed, crossing her arms and glaring at the grinning teen.

“Between the choice of remembering to eat and binge playing Glory, I’d always choose Glory.” Ye Xiu shrugged. “I can’t always intrude on sis when she’s busy with work.” He scrunched up the burger wrappers, piling them all up inside the card box.

“Glory is a great game; I’m not saying don’t play it. Just look after yourself more.”

“Yes boss.” Ye Xiu saluted.

He stood up and gathered the emptied cups and food wrapping before walking towards the trashcan. After dumping it in, he turned back around to face Chen Guo.

“I’m ready to play,” he declared happily, bouncing up and down on his feet.

Chen Guo sighed. She just had to hire another Glory geek, not that she was not one herself.

“Fine, fine, let’s go back to the café. New server is about to open up.” She stood up, the chair’s legs scraping along the floor.

She walked towards the room’s exit, waving Ye Xiu to follow after her.

“Any idea of what class you want to try out so far?” she asked the grinning teen. “You really love Glory don’t you?” she added as an afterthought.

“Glory is Glory; there are no words to describe it,” Ye Xiu replied, outright savouring the excitement that was buzzing in the café.

“But for you, it seems something more,” Chen Guo murmured to herself. “Well, here we go.” She came to a stop in one of the empty computer station.

“Thanks boss.” Ye Xiu reached out to grab the chair’s back, but before he could pull it out, Chen Guo stopped him by latching onto his arm.

“But, you can only play an hour before I force you to sleep.” Chen Guo declared, “If you’re on even a minute longer, there will be consequences.”

Ye Xiu just gaped, What?

“Understood?” she asked. “Well, I’m waiting for your answer.”

“Um…okay,” Ye Xiu yielded. Anything to get into the game faster.

Chen Guo nodded and released Ye Xiu’s arm. “Play away then.” She even pulled the chair out for him.

Ye Xiu slowly lowered himself down to the seat, an uncomfortable expression on his face. What had he gotten himself into?

“So? What’s the plan?” Chen Guo asked, resting her arms on the chair’s back and leaning forward.

“Wait for the server to open up and play,” Ye Xiu replied, sliding the account card in.

“Well, yeah. But other than that? What class?” Chen Guo prodded on.

“We’ll see how it goes,” came Ye Xiu’s uninterested response.

First thing first, he had to check whether his reaction and hand speed were still at the professional level. Then…then he’d have to find the weapon . Or maybe it would be the other way around?

The excitement and the chatter in the café grew even further as the clock ticked down the last few minutes.

Ye Xiu stared at the digital clock ticking away on the bottom left corner of his screen.

11.58

Two minutes left.

“Ooh! It’s happening, it’s happening,” Chen Guo exclaimed, lightly jumping on her spot.

“You’re too excited boss,” Ye Xiu commented, turning his head around to look at Chen Guo.

“Well, you should be excited too. It’s Glory’s tenth server, you know,” Chen Guo said, slipping into the empty slot next to Ye Xiu. “Why aren’t you excited?”

Ye Xiu just shrugged. He had been with Glory since the very start, and he had been excited every time Glory grew. But, this time...

“10!”

The crowd start counting down the number.

“9!”

Ye Xiu prepared to open up the game’s launcher.

8

7

Instantly, thousands of people logged in. The entirety of the café filled with ecstatic and animated chatter as people raced to be the first to reserve their preferred names, the first to complete the first quest, or the first to complete whatever they could not achieve before.

Chen Guo watched the players around the café with an overjoyed look on her face. This was the power of Glory.

“You might want to hurry up or you’ll lose out o—” Chen Guo paused when her eyes landed on Ye Xiu’s screen.

He was reading the beginner instructions.

“What…are you doing?” she asked. “Hurry up and log in.” She attempted to reach for Ye Xiu’s mouse.

“Wait, stop.” Ye Xiu pulled the mouse away from her. “I’m reading the starting instructions,” he explained before focusing back on the set of instructions.

“Why are you reading that? You’ve been playing Glory for at least a year; you don’t need that.” Chen Guo was confused.

“Let’s just say, it’s been a while.” Ye Xiu replied with a chuckle, “I remember some here and there, but I’ve mostly forgotten them. I need to refresh my memory.”

Chen Guo gaped. “I can’t believe you’re actually reading it.” She could see the corner of Ye Xiu’s lips turning up in a smile.

A couple minutes passed before Ye Xiu finally finished reading. Now, he was ready.

Lord Grim

“Really?” Chen Guo commented upon seeing the character login screen.

“It’s not that bad,” Ye Xiu denied as both of them stared at the swirling loading screen.

“It’s not that bad, he says,” Chen Guo mimicked in a mocking fashion.

The background music of Glory began to play as Lord Grim loaded into the game, both Ye Xiu and Chen Guo inching forward in anticipations only to—

“It’s far too packed,” they both deadpanned.

The spawning zone of the Beginner Town was far too crowded. They could hardly see anything other than hundreds of heads.

“This is what you get for taking your time reading something so useless,” Chen Guo said, standing up. “Well, you’re not going to be able to do anything, so might as well sleep. Up you get.” She patted his shoulder.

“I just want to finish one quest, boss, please,” Ye Xiu pleaded, a pitiful look on his face.

“Nope, one quest is going to be two, then three. I’m not falling for that.” Chen Guo shook her head, now pulling on Ye Xiu’s sleeves. “Come along, mister.”

“But boss,” Ye Xiu pouted, turning slightly teary eyed. “I haven’t been able to play at all today.” He sniffed.

That struck Chen Guo. How could someone sound so heartbroken over a game ? Okay, that game was Glory, but still!

She sighed. “Fine! Just one quest, you hear me?” She sat back down. “After that, it’s to bed with you.”

The smile she received was probably the most blinding smile she had ever seen. Being the recipient of it left her slightly flustered.

She watched Ye Xiu motion Lord Grim towards the queue of people lining up to take the beginner’s quest. Just this simple action gave him so much excitement.

She let out a small yawn. It was getting far too late. She laid her head down on the desk, staring up at Ye Xiu’s happy expression. This kid loved the game far too much. She would let him finish one quest. Just one. She then closed her eyes.

Chapter Text

Chen Guo was in a bad mood. Somehow, she had fallen asleep while sitting, and the resulting backache and neck-ache only made her mood worse when she was summoned in a bleary haze to the outside of the Internet Café - because this man refused to enter, for some reason. Then, when asked for the reason of his visit, the man pushing a steamer cart pointed inside.

 

“Lady Boss, that kid owes me money.”

 

“That young kid hasn’t paid for his tangyuan . Osmanthus filling,” the older man replied. “Very expensive.”

 

“You’re chasing after a kid in the middle of the night for the cost of a bowl of tangyuan ?!” Chen Guo flared up in indignant fury.

 

“It’s not just any bowl! Our Broken Bridge tangyuan recipe has been passed down the family line for generations !”

 

“...” Chen Guo asked: “How much is it?”

 

“…nine yuan.”

 

“Little Ning, get nine yuan from the register.”

 

Chen Guo shook her head. How was tangyuan this expensive?! Actually, why was a runaway eating osmanthus tangyuan in the first place? It wasn’t even the Winter Solstice yet! Osmanthus wasn’t even in season!

 

“Lady Boss, we’re out of five yuan notes,” Little Ning handed over nine green slips of paper depicting the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon. “This…”

 

“Deduct from his pay later!” Chen Guo decisively shoved the notes at the tangyuan seller. “Bill settled.”

 

“Oh…” The tangyuan seller went away.

 

Still in a rage, Chen Guo walked back to her chair and went back to sleep.

 

At what seemed like the drop of a hat, she had slept and then a hand touched her shoulder.

 

“Lady Boss, Lady Boss...”

 

“H- Huh? Huh?” Chen Guo’s feet quickly found themselves back on the ground. The hand belonged to the sister receptionist on duty.

 

“Lady Boss, you fell asleep,” the sister explained.

 

“Huh? Ah…” Chen Guo scowled, rushing upstairs to her shophouse apartment to wash up and change her clothes. Once the bleariness of sleep had been wiped from her eyes she had looked around, but found no lanky teenager.

 

Don’t tell me…

 

In a rush of footsteps, the sister receptionist jumped as Happy Internet Café’s Lady Boss fell down the stairs.

 

“Where’s Ye Xiu?” Chen Guo demanded in a frazzle. How had she forgotten the underage teenager!!! Not even Glory should have distracted her from… What was it? There was a First Kill - Midnight Phantom Cat… and someone yelling on the World Chat...

 

The little sister pointed to deep in the Smoking Area.

 

“He’s still playing?” Chen Guo exclaimed, letting go of the counter to rush over.

 Young Ye Xiu

The smoking area was filled with foul black smoke. Ye Xiu was located in ground zero, a glazed look in his round eyes. Chen Guo furrowed her eyebrows, waving away the smoke. Fortunately, all the employees had remembered not to sell cigarettes to minors, and nobody had given the kid a free cigarette either.

 

She rushed to Ye Xiu and lifted his headphones: “Still playing! Are you crazy?”

 

Ye Xiu turned around at lightning speed and nodded his head: “Morning.” He immediately turned back to his keyboard. There was absolutely minimal guilt in defying prior instructions.

 

Chen Guo swept her eyes over the screen.

 

“Spider Cave?!”

 

“Mm-hm.”

 

“What’s your level?”

 

“17.”

 

Chen Guo carefully studied Lord Grim’s experience bar. The bar was almost full -- after this dungeon, he would reach level 18. Her eyes then turned to the wall clock: 11:40.

 

Level 18 in 12 hours, that had to be a new record…

 

Looking at the screen again, Chen Guo spotted the party list. Sleeping Moon?

 

“Wasn’t this person slandering you last night?” Chen Guo pointed to Sleeping Moon’s ID on the party list.

 

“En!”

 

“Then why are you in a party with him?!”

 

“I couldn’t form a party with anyone else.” Ye Xiu said.

 

“...ah?”

 

Ye Xiu only laughed. “For someone as mature as me, how could I be mad at his slandering?”

 

Chen Guo just continued to stare in befuddlement. “What exactly happened?”

 

“I guess that when they first admitted me in, they had something in mind, but after seeing how well I played, they thought that I would be helpful to them.”

 

“...” Chen Guo took a deep breath. “So you just happily worked for them without any benefits?”

 

“It’s nothing. It’s okay.” Ye xiu hastily assured, sensing the coming storm on the horizon.

 

On the screen, a lance flashed by, killing off the Spider Lord that had been surrounded by the five of them. Chen Guo saw a bunch of system messages pass; the party members Seven Fields, Sleeping Moon, Sunset Clouds, and Drifting Water all chose to renounce the equipment dropped from the Spider Lord.

 

“... and this is?”

 

“I was very helpful to them, so they forced me to choose which equipment to take first. Sigh, there’s nothing I can do!” Ye Xiu decisively chose to renounce them.

 

Chen Guo was dumbstruck. Before she had slept, it seemed like they were enemies. When she work up, how did they all suddenly become his little brothers? When did he turn from the guest to the master here?!

 

“Explain.” Chen Guo wouldn’t drop this matter.

 

“I helped them a lot!” Ye Xiu protested. Why was this sister harping so much on this?!

 

“How much?” Chen Guo’s tone was dangerous, as if she would be employing her main account to place a bounty were it possible.

 

“I carried them through the Spider Cave and Spider Emperor First Clears.” Ye Xiu said.

 

“You completed three first clears in one night?” Chen Guo was shocked. She had played Chasing Haze for five years, but she didn’t have a single First Clear under her name. This guy played throughout the night and a morning but obtained three…

 

“Hang on, I said only one quest! What happened to ‘one quest only’?!”

 

“Lady Boss, where are your priorities…?” Ye Xiu could only faintly reply, but then pulled the earphones to his mouth. “See you later!”

 

Chen Guo gave him a severe look as he logged out of the game.

 

“You’re sleeping on the couch,” she announced. “There’s a pillow and blankets there.”

 

“Thanks, Lady Boss. I’m so sleepy…” Ye Xiu moved his neck about.

 

“Do you want to eat something first?” Chen Guo sized up Ye Xiu. Truthfully, she could not tell that he had a lack of sleep.

 

“No need! After I sleep, I’ll eat!”

 

“Good idea. When your sister comes I’ll ask her to buy something.”

 

Mid-turn, Ye Xiu froze and nearly walked into a nearby customer’s chair.

 

“And then,” Chen Guo continued, “I’ll be informing her that you not only forgot my instructions, but you also spent… hmm, the past 12 hours straight on Glory.”

 

“That… that…” The wide eyes turned to her under a baseball cap and glasses were panicked.

 

“I told you before, there would be consequences.” Chen Guo’s sharp smile nearly chased away the haze of sleep in Ye Xiu’s eyes.

 

“Lady Boss… you...”

 

Chen Guo tilted her head, as if a thought had finally occurred to her after a long moment of forgetfulness. “And,” she finally said, “where is your sister anyway?”

 

“...”

 

“...she was working the whole night ?!”

 

“Big sis is… busy.”

 

“What do I do...” Chen Guo put her head in her hands. “Well… for one, I’ll need a way to contact your sister. Before you sleep. Then we’ll have to discuss other arrangements - you obviously can’t be trusted to make your own sleep schedule.”

 

“Lady Boss…” Ye Xiu felt like he wanted to 囧. When he was 18, Team Excellent Era was already at its height, so most of his life and onwards had been spent holing up in the Club compound at work or at Glory - actually, there was minimal difference in either.

 

“No. Excuses. You’re a kid, listen to adults.”

 

“I’m 18! I’m of age!”

 

Chen Guo’s expression grew more strict. “You have a fake ID claiming to be 25. Who would believe you?”

 

Ye Xiu opened his mouth. His face slackened, and his mouth closed. “I… I need to make two calls.”

 

“I need to contact your big sister too,” Chen Guo magnanimously decided. “After all, you need your ID. Phone.”

 

“Don’t have a cellphone.”

 

Chen Guo thought for a moment, and then pulled out her own. “Use mine.”

 

You just want to check the numbers I called, Lady Boss… isn’t this infringement of privacy?

 

“You just said that you’re a runaway,” Chen Guo laid down an ultimatum. “We can handle this here, or at the police station.”

 

“Fine…”  Ye Xiu took the cellphone and thumbed in the first number to call.

 

“Mu- Big Sis Mu, it’s Ye Xiu. This is the Lady Boss’ phone… eh… she forced me to call you… because I don’t have a proper ID on me… en, I just pulled an all-nighter… OK OK I’ll sleep later… I need to make another call after this, you can talk to the Lady Boss later! Ok, bye bye.”

 

The first call was terminated, and then Ye Xiu thumbed in another number before taking a deep breath.

 

“Hello? Stupid little brother, it’s me. So… I need another ID. No, not yours… look, it’s hard to explain. I need a new ID card, one with credentials to stand up to screening. Huh? You’re coming here??? Er…  I’m at-” and he gave the address of the Happy Internet Café. “Fine, OK. You definitely won’t believe it until you see it...”

 

In the whole mess, the nine yuan had been forgotten. It seemed, after all, so insignificant a sum that Chen Guo had chosen to completely gloss over it as she took her phone back and picked the second-last call in her call history log before she punched the green call icon.

 

“Hello, is this Ye Xiu’s sister? Yes, this is Chen Guo from the Happy Internet Café. I’d like to discuss Ye Xiu…”

 

As for the kid in question, he did not seem to care overly much. He just went up, taking off his shoes mid-way, and lay on the couch before he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Blood red locks reflected off the light of the room, contrasting against his brother’s youthful ivory skin. The large black-framed glasses adorning his smaller face successfully made for an adorable look.

Ye Xiu was curled peacefully on the couch. An arm had slipped out of the blanket and hung off the front of the furniture, while he seemed like a lazy, sleeping house cat.

Ye Qiu stared. And stared longer. This… He had trouble believing it, but the reality of Ye Xiu’s significantly younger-looking body was right in front of him. How was he supposed to explain this to their parents? Although this was his shitty older brother, Ye Qiu didn't remember him looking this cute- Ye Qiu coughed at the thought. He stood by the couch at a loss for words. The man had immediately flown over after his brother’s phone call. He was ready to call bullshit and thought it was one of Ye Xiu’s shenanigans again, because God knew how much he suffered because of him and lost to him in the past, yet this was what he came to after following the Lady Boss’ instructions as to Ye Xiu’s whereabouts.

After a while, he sighed. He reached out and carefully took off the pair of glasses adorning Ye Xiu’s face, placing it on the coffee table, then proceeded to tuck in the arm and cover more of his brother’s smaller body with the blanket.

“Idiot brother…” he whispered, what have you gotten yourself into? You must have been lost and confused… Yet he didn't expect Ye Xiu to stir from his sleep, eyelashes fluttering, brows furrowing, and letting out a little groan. Ye Qiu halted his breath and stilled his movements. His intentions to wake Ye Xiu up, get mad at him for running away, then convince him to return home had already been long gone ever since he laid eyes upon him. His brotherly instincts had unexpectedly surged and Ye Qiu immediately felt that he needed to protect his beloved de-aged brother.

After ensuring that Ye Xiu had calmed down enough, Ye Qiu resumed his movements, before stepping back and nodding, admiring his work. He was satisfied at the sight of the bundled burrito. Ye Qiu took a few more seconds staring at him to confirm that he really was, in fact, de-aged, before letting out a breath and returning downstairs.

“Oh? You came back quickly,” A voice called out to him suddenly as he reached the bottom of the stairway, startling the man from the train of thoughts of his older brother.

“Ah-” he let out in the moment of surprise, flinching. Ye Qiu turned to the side and found out that it was the Lady Boss of this place. He righted his posture and fixed his collar, nodding to her.

“Yes, I didn't want to wake him up. I only wanted to see how my brother was doing.”

Chen Guo swept her eyes over Ye Qiu. This older brother of Ye Xiu, the heir, really looked like a spitting image of the boy, except with more mature features. He's also much more polite and well-groomed, turning up in that expensive-looking suit. It seemed that the situation of the heir and spare could be true… He gave Chen Guo such a shock when he first arrived at Happy and introduced himself as Ye Xiu’s biological older brother. Didn't the family not care about him? She was giving Ye Qiu suspicious looks until he clarified that he himself did care about his brother, and wanted to check up on him.

“I see, I thought you murmured something about waking him up before…” Ye Qiu heard the woman say softly, and he sweated internally. That was before I saw him de-aged! Don't blame me!

“Did I? It certainly is not my intention now,” he shifted his eyes to his wristwatch, “Since it is 4 in the afternoon, I thought he might only be having a light nap. Yet when I came, Xiu’er seemed to be in a deep sleep.”

“Ah! That's right, he didn't sleep at all last night! He was playing on Glory’s new server… and only went to sleep today at noon,” Chen Guo recalled. She was immediately embarrassed. Facing the older brother, how was she to explain that she accidentally dozed off and forgot to force Ye Xiu to bed?

Fortunately for her, Ye Qiu didn't probe further. He stood there, brows furrowing slightly, and whispered, “Glory…” That game again. He never understood. Ten years and it was still the same game that moved his brother. What makes you love it so much, brother? To sacrifice your sleep, leave your home and family for years… All for this game. The man would never admit it, but he had been missing his only sibling in all the years they were separated.

After a few seconds, Ye Qiu breathed out a sigh and smiled lightly. “He’s quite a handful, isn't he? He's always been like this… I apologize miss, I hope he doesn't inconvenience you too much in the future.”

“That said, miss…” Shifting his body to fully face Chen Guo, he made up his mind. His brother was now eighteen? So be it. He wanted to play Glory? Alright. Ye Xiu needed his help? As long as Ye Qiu lives, he will support his brother and continue to protect him. “Could I trouble you to take care of him for a little while longer? The situation is complicated, but he can't return home for now.”

“AH? Wait- you aren't going to take him back? What- Then- Why did you come here?” Not that she really minded, as Ye Xiu wasn't really freeloading and had even asked for a job, but she was concerned about the boy’s circumstances. Didn't he run away years ago? What did he mean he can't return home? His parents really didn't want him anymore?! So it was true?! Such a charming, young child with so much potential-

“I'm deeply sorry, miss. As I’ve said, it's complicated… Throughout these years, I have actually been checking up on him from time to time. Rest assured, I will come back for him again in the future, and will finally be responsible for taking care of him then. Currently, I still have matters to attend to back home- not to mention matters pertaining to Ye Xiu as well.” At this, Ye Qiu started forming a checklist in his head. To create a fake ID for Ye Xiu, send him some suitable clothes, sort out the family heir problem, persuade their parents…

At his third sentence, gears had already started turning in Chen Guo’s head. Her overprotective sister instincts kicked in. So it's like that… He’s been checking up on him all this while? Such a caring older brother. Was he the one who made the sister watch over him too? Hold on, does this mean his brother wants to talk to their parents about him? Wait, he's leaving him here, so does this mean the situation of the boy here is better than at his home?! That's why he can't go back? No no, he can't be facing abuse- While she muttered incomprehensibly about her theories and assumptions, opposite her, Ye Qiu was editing his mental Ye Xiu checklist and adding more things to it. Both were distracted by their dear Ye Xiu, and they just stood silently, funnily facing each other with looks of hard thinking on their faces.

“Boss! I need some help!” after several seconds, it was the shout of the sister at the counter that broke both people from their Ye Xiu reverie.

“Coming! Just a sec!” Chen Guo called back, then turned back to face the man in front of her. Looking at each other’s expression, they seemed to have some sort of tacit understanding between themselves.

“Right. I assume you will take care of him well, miss?”

“Definitely,” she nodded seriously, before looking at him straight in the eye, “Please attend to the situation at your home as well.”

“I will,” Ye Qiu firmly nodded back. “He is my brother after all.” Chen Guo wanted to shed tears hearing this. In this era, how are there still such parents? Fortunately, they gave him such a kind and thoughtful older brother.

“Well then miss, if there's nothing else, I will take my leave first. Tell Ye Xiu not to worry and that I will sort things out for him, will you?” He tilted his head slightly in inquisition.

“Of course, of course. Have a safe flight, Ye Qiu,” Chen Guo waved.

Ye Qiu bowed slightly at her, then made his way out of the cafe, taking note of its appearance, and pulled out his phone to book a flight back to his hometown. He reviewed the mental checklist while hailing a taxi.

Chapter Text

“Hello?” Su Mucheng entered the internet cafe, her trusty baseball cap and cotton face mask on once again. Spotting no one at the front desk, she hummed in contemplation. Perhaps the receptionist went off on an errand?

“Oh, hello, miss. You’re Ye Xiu’s older sister, right?” Chen Guo exited the back room and spotted the young lady standing in front of the entrance. Earlier this morning, she had called the younger woman and requested that she come by to talk over details about Ye Xiu’s employment, but she hadn’t expected her arrival to be at such a late time. It was nearly eight in the evening.

“Yes, just call me...Mumu. You said you wanted to talk?” Su Mucheng paused for a moment and just gave out her nickname. Even though her fans also called her this, it was unlikely for any connection to be made with so little facts. She shouldered the duffel bag up higher, frowning a bit. Why did Ye Xiu have so little things? Even when she found all of his old possessions from when he first ran away, the bag was barely three-quarters full.

She nodded inwardly to herself. She would just need to spoil him like he and her older brother had spoiled her when she was young.

“Ah, follow me to the back room. You can look over the contract while I go wake up that little brat.” Chen Guo beckoned Su Mucheng to follow.

“He’s still asleep?” Su Mucheng asked in surprise. Ye Xiu was getting more than just four hours of sleep for once? She sent Chen Guo a contemplative look, ruminating over a new idea. It would make things easier…

“The kid pulled an all-nighter to play Glory,” Chen Guo remarked drily. Sure, Glory was that amazing and interesting, but you did need to take breaks when playing. Otherwise, wouldn’t it get boring? Grinding day in and day out…she herself had been playing for years and was quite the veteran, but even she needed to take breathers in between gaming sessions.

“That’s nothing new though,” Su Mucheng replied before adding, “I’m glad he’s getting more sleep. Perhaps it’s because of your supervision, boss? I’m afraid I’m too busy with work to check up on him often, so he plays without a sense of restraint.”

“You’re flattering me.” Chen Guo waved off her praise and humbly replied, “I just know when to lay down the law.” She ignored the fact that she had fallen asleep and allowed the all-nighter to happen in the first place. “Here, take a seat. The contract’s on the desk. I’ll go grab your younger brother.”

“Alright.” Nodding, Su Mucheng sat down and took out her phone. Ye Xiu could look over the contract himself, so she didn’t really have to do anything.

Meanwhile, Chen Guo pried open the door and peeked inside. Taking in the angelic-looking boy sleeping on the couch still, blood red locks framing ivory skin, she smiled and stepped into the room. She reached out and shook his shoulder gently, her eyes softening at how young and innocent this boy looked.

“Ye Xiu, it’s time to wake up. Your sister is here.”

“Mmph?” Ye Xiu mumbled. Long black eyelashes fluttered slowly, revealing flashes of gold. His mind was still hazy from sleep, but it took him just a moment more to realise where he is. Shooting up, he nearly slammed his head into Chen Guo’s.

“Brat!” Chen Guo exclaimed, jerking back instinctually when she glimpsed a red bullet speed her way.

“Ah, sorry, boss.” Ye Xiu smiled awkwardly, ruffling his hair. His black-framed glasses were slightly skewed from his sudden movement, allowing Chen Guo a clearer look of his eyes.

He’s going to be a looker when he finishes maturing, she thought to herself. “Clean yourself up and come down to the office. Your sister’s waiting.”

“Sister? Ah, yes. Er...did she happen to bring a duffel bag with her? She has my things.” Ye Xiu tugged at his oversized t-shirt. He hoped she was able to find some of his old clothes, as none of his current ones would fit properly.

Chen Guo blinked and took another look. He was wearing oversized clothing for some reason. Then again, what did she know about young boys and their poor excuse for fashion? “The bathroom’s a couple doors down, but you still need to meet up with Mumu first.” She spun on her heels and left the room right after she finished speaking.

Ye Xiu watched her leave, a questioning look in his eyes. “She’s making you call her Mumu? And I thought my mask was flimsy,” he mumbled beneath his breath, his words too faint for Chen Guo to hear. He sedately followed his new boss and raised a hand to casually adjust his glasses. The weight on his nose and ears was fairly awkward and would take some getting used to. Last night, it had constantly been on the edge of his mind; he would need to get accustomed to its presence quickly because he couldn’t afford distractions.

Although he had no idea what made him suddenly turn seven or so years younger, he was back at his prime——no, he had the opportunity to surpass himself at his prime now. He shouldn’t let such a chance pass him by.

“Hey, big sis,” he called out when he entered the room, taking the seat beside her. He reached out to grab the untouched contract and skimmed through. The internet cafe boss didn’t seem like Tao Xuan, so he didn’t have that many worries about hidden stipulations and obligations. A quick read through later, his suspicions were confirmed, and he signed on the dotted line casually. Flipping through the other paperwork attached beneath the folder, he began steadily filling out the information, though he did have to pull out his wallet and retrieve the cheat sheet he added within it long ago. His brain only had a limited amount of space, so information concerning Glory held precedence over information like his bank routing number and such.

“Right, is there anything else we need to talk about?” Ye Xiu asked, wrist aching. Sure, he deaged and was a younger body now, but writing continuously for over ten minutes had been something he was glad to leave behind after running away. In addition, he was itching to take a quick shower before heading back to Glory. A glance at the clock revealed the countless hours he had lost when he had been asleep.

“Yes,” Su Mucheng interjected. “Boss, can Ye Xiu stay here for a while? As I’ve told you, the new management at my workplace won’t allow him to stay with me as I work.”

“Mn, that’s no problem,” Chen Guo answered, nodding. They had talked this over on the phone earlier, after all.

Ye Xiu had nothing to say and just leaned back, observing the two of them. Su Mucheng’s next words had him straightening up, however.

“It’ll take maybe a month for me to finalise living arrangements. Once Glory’s Sixth Annual All-Stars Weekend passes, I should be able to take Ye Xiu in again.”

“Wait, what?” Ye Xiu finally spoke up, confused. “Mu—big sis?”

“You didn’t tell him? Your sister plans to lease out an apartment for the two of you, since you can’t stay at her workplace’s provided dormitory any longer...wait, did you say Glory’s Sixth Annual All-Stars Weekend?” Chen Guo turned to face Su Mucheng the instant she realised what the other had said.

“Yes, did I not mention?” Su Mucheng tilted her head, a teasing smirk on her lips. “I play Glory as well.” She refrained from mentioning exactly who she was, but a little bit of fun wasn’t out of her reach. “The club is quite busy until then, as we need to keep the materials stocked well for the team to refine silver equipment.” She also had a fair amount of advertisements and commercials to appear in, but that did not need to be mentioned.

“Ah, that makes sense.” Chen Guo nodded. “You must be pretty good, which class?”

“Launcher.” Su Mucheng stood up and lifted the duffel bag from the floor. “Here, Little Leaf, your things. We’re going to need to get you a phone now, though.”

“Eh, don’t bother, big sis. Ye—my stupid big brother can just get me one.” Ye Xiu caught himself, swallowing the name ‘Ye Qiu’ back down. He accepted the duffel bag and winced slightly at how heavy it was.

“Okay then. I need to head back to work.” Su Mucheng smiled, though only the crinkling of her eyes was visible. “Take care, Little Leaf.”[1]

“Mn, you too, Mumu.” Ye Xiu saw her move and steeled himself in preparation. Su Mucheng pulled him into a tight hug, her head bowed slightly so her mouth was closer to his ears.

“Be careful, big brother,” she whispered.

“I will.”

She backed off and took her leave, exiting the cafe and nearly stumbling back in to avoid running into an older man.

“Miss, you’re the young kid’s sister, right? The one with blood red hair?” the older man asked.

Su Mucheng looked at him, startled, but nodded her head. Who else had blood red hair?

The man pulled a receipt from the steamer cart behind him, flashing it in her direction. “That young kid hasn’t paid for his tangyuan. Osmanthus filling,” the older man stated. “Very expensive.”

“Oh,” Su Mucheng said. “How much?” She didn’t argue much, unlike Chen Guo. Ye Xiu was a fairly forgetful person unless it involved Glory.

“Nine yuan, cash only.”

Taking out a few bills, she handed them over, to which the older man simply nodded in thanks before leaving. Su Mucheng watched him leave with slight confusion in her eyes and then shrugged, pushing the incident to the back of her mind. With a sigh, she walked back to Excellent Era’s clubhouse. She really didn’t want to deal with that new captain of hers.

Chapter Text

When Ye Xiu returned to the internet cafe after his shower, the world had changed. The second floor was practically devoid of life. It might’ve been a little more expensive, but why would everyone evacuate the place all of a sudden?

 

Baffled, Ye Xiu headed downstairs for answers, only to be met with darkness. The sole source of light was coming from the projector. Everyone was just squeezed together, standing there or sitting there, solemnly gazing at the projection. Ye Xiu blinked.

 

What was going on?

 

His answer soon came to him in the form of five words: Ye Qiu, One Autumn Leaf.

The projector was streaming a video of his history and accomplishments as a pro player. His awards were listed out: MVP, Champion, Arena Star, One Hit One Kill…

 

“Next, let’s all commemorate Ye Qiu’s Battle God One Autumn Leaf through these series of marvelous images.” The commentator intoned solemnly. On the projection, shots of the Battle God One Autumn Leaf began flashed across the screen.

 

Before, a showing like this would have made the crowd go wild with excitement. But now, the Internet Cafe was silent. There was no yelling or cheering. Everyone just quietly looked on as pictures flashed across the screen one by one.

 

So that’s what it was… His retirement had been announced.

 

Ye Xiu’s mood fell. He could faintly hear someone sobbing in the background and, to his shock, he also felt the sting of tears behind his eyes. He blinked them away, eyelashes fluttering.

He missed it. He missed the Excellent Era of the past. He missed being a pro. He missed his old room. Yet underneath all his sorrow was a strange sort of anger. Something bright and hot that he hadn’t felt in a long time. Something that was taking a crack at his composure.

Something that spoke of being young again.

 

Ye Xiu hadn’t reached the age for retirement. His club knew that as well as he did, but, become a training partner? That would simply be humiliating. Even if he took the offer, they would have other ways of forcing him to leave. Retirement was just their plan A. They would eliminate him as a threat - in all ways.

 

Yet now… he was young again. Things hadn’t gone as Excellent Era’s management had planned. Ye Xiu didn’t know if this was a permanent change or not, but it seemed to be long-term, at the least.

 

Excitement bloomed in him, mingling with all his other turmolous emotions.

 

It was as his friend had once said. “It’s just a new start.”

 

Nonetheless, these sorts of things were designed to make people emotional and he turned from the projection, squeezing through the crowd to head outside before he really did start to sob. Some fresh air would do him good; it was too crowded in here.

 

Ye Xiu went to the entrance, shivering a little at the cold wind.

 

That was when he heard a sob and turned his head to see Chen Guo hiding next to the door and crying. The two stared at each other for a moment in awkwardness.

 

Then Chen Guo wiped away her tears with her hands and gave a watery smile. “Ye Xiu, you must be hungry. Give me a moment to, uh, yeah.”

 

“Um…” Ye Xiu wasn’t sure what to do. Should he… comfort her…? “I’ll get some tissues,” he ended up offering.

 

He rushed back inside and asked for some tissues at the front desk, trying to ignore the increasingly loud sobbing coming from all around, lest he also burst into tears.

 

Ah… to be young and emotionally charged again…

 

“Here,” he handed Chen Guo the tissues, fidgeting and wishing he had a cigarette to distract himself as she wiped her face.

 

He glanced at the other. “... It… it’s not all bad,” Ye Xiu suddenly murmured, feeling distinctly uncomfortable. “Ye Qiu might be gone but Ye Xiu is here, right?” The tone he used was joking, a little arrogant, but he didn’t get the reaction he was hoping for. Instead, Chen Guo burst into tears again and hugged him, leaving him flailing for a moment.

 

“You’re such a sweet kid,” she told him with sincerity as she pulled back with a smile, handing him back the tissues. “I’ll order some food for you.” Then she turned and went back inside, leaving Ye Xiu lost for words on the doorstep of the internet cafe.

 

Ye Xiu shook his head when he finally recovered from his surprise. Women, he’d never understand them.

 

By the time he felt composed enough to go back inside, the projector had been put away, the video having finished airing.

 

He quickly found Chen Guo talking to the employee managing the front desk to ask after his working arrangements.

 

“You’ll have to sit here when you man the night shift. Your shift starts at eleven.”

 

“Can I play games?”

 

“Sure, just make sure you’re attentive.”

 

“Can I smo-”

 

“No.”

 

“...”

 

After Chen Guo had finished informing him of his duties, their delivery arrived and Ye Xiu ate in record speed. His appetite was ravenous. He had tried to eat what he usually did, at first, but then soon found it a futile battle when his stomach would immediately complain afterwards.

It was fast approaching eleven when he finished eating and the girl currently manning the front desk had timed her K-Drama to end perfectly at eleven, getting up to switch with him.

 

“Good luck on your first day, Little Leaf.”

 

Ye Xiu sighed a little as he slid into the space behind the counter. He couldn’t believe that the nickname had stuck. Mucheng had only used it like twice! But now it seemed that he was stuck with it. Thank god the boss still called him Ye Xiu.

 

“I’ll be here if you need anything, Little Leaf,” Chen Guo suddenly called out reassuringly from the side.

Ye Xiu didn’t know if he should cry or laugh. Why did he get saddled with a cute nickname like that? At least he’d be free of it in the game.

 

Logging in with Lord Grim, Ye Xiu was immediately greeted by Seven Fields and the others, but then realized that one of their number was missing. “Where’s Sleeping Moon?”

 

“Oh, he’s not coming today.”

 

“Is he being difficult again?”

 

“No, he’s not feeling too well. Wasn’t Ye Qiu’s retirement announced today? He’s a huge fan of God Ye, so he’s feeling depressed.”

 

How ironic, Ye Xiu thought to himself. What would Sleeping Moon think if he knew that Ye Xiu was actually Ye Qiu?

 

Then he realized something. If he never returned to normal, then he would’ve lost this identity of Ye Qiu. The thought was actually… rather daunting. It wasn’t as if he truly cared about getting acknowledgement for being Ye Qiu, but the loss of this identity that had been his for over seven years…

 

“Brother Expert?”

 

Ye Xiu was soon brought away from his musings by Seven Field’s voice. “If we’re missing a person, then Spider Cave’s hidden bosses won’t be so easy to kill,” he said.


“We could just randomly add someone?” Seven Fields suggested.


“Why don’t we go to Skeleton Graveyard?”


“Sure!” Seven Fields immediately responded. The group were eager to agree with Ye Xiu’s suggestion.

 

“By the way…” Drifting Waters suddenly spoke up during their run of Skeleton Graveyard.

“Hm?” Ye Xiu gave an absent minded response. He was busy thinking of the materials he needed for the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella.

 

Drifting Waters coughed, sounding a little awkward. “Brother Expert, how old are you?”

 

“Twenty-five,” Ye Xiu replied without thinking.

 

Silence fell.

 

Behind Lord Grim, Seven Fields, Sunset Clouds and Drifting Water exchanged looks with their expressionless avatars. God knows what sort of strange and dramatic scenarios they had come up with, but Ye Xiu noticed their sudden silence and could practically hear the gears turning in their head.

 

Oops.

 

Oh well.

 

What did it matter if he was twenty-five or fifteen?

 

The three were unnaturally silent as they ran Skeleton Graveyard. The only noise was the sound of battle and Ye Xiu’s orders.

 

That was when he noticed movement in the corner of his eye. He spared enough attention to glance up discreetly, only to be struck speechless. Chen Guo was... secretively-not-secretively taking photos of him… while standing practically right next to him. He decisively turned his attention back to the game, not even looking up as Chen Guo slid into the space next to him to watch him play.

 

Then Ye Xiu suddenly shouted “Careful!” as the system solemnly announced: “You have entered the Skeleton Warrior’s place of eternal rest,” and said Skeleton Warrior made a dramatic entrance.

 

“Ah…” Ye Xiu’s eyes went wide as he looked around at his boss.

 

“What? What’s wrong?” Chen Guo immediately asked, worried.

 

“I forgot to look at a guide… For getting the saber drop at a 100 percent chance...”

 

“...” This kid…

 

“Please?”

 

“... Fine” Who was she kidding? She was hopeless against those puppy eyes.

 

Still, it was worth it to watch Ye Xiu go at the boss one on one as his three party members retreated at his command. Lord Grim closed in on the Skeleton Warrior, who raised its massive sword high above its head. However, it never got a chance to strike, for Lord Grim’s attack speed was superior and the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella’s lance form wasn’t short.

 

He darted in, lance swinging forth in a Dragon Tooth and inflicting a stun on Skeleton Warrior, then Sky Strike shot forth at lightning speed. The Knock-Up effect was greatly reduced due to the resistance bosses in general possessed, but it was more than enough to give Lord Grim an opening to slash at the buckle of the Skeleton Warrior’s belt. Next was a sweep, that also struck the buckle precisely, before Ye Xiu had Lord Grim retreat decisively to avoid the shockwave that came with the boss’ recovery from knock down.

 

Ye Xiu was playing even more smoothly than he had yesterday. Since he had shrunk, it had taken a while to get used to the difference in the size of his hands, causing his mechanics to be a little… too mechanical the day before. However, he was Ye Xiu, and his reaction speed, APM and judgement were more than enough to make up for it.

 

Now, his fingers were flying across the keyboard without pause. He hadn’t felt so… light in a long time. It had been subtle, but Ye Xiu now realized that age had taken its toll on him, no matter how minisculely. The body’s physical ability would begin to deteriorate in the early to mid twenties at a barely perceivable rate, so soon after development had finished… And he had somehow managed to escape the eventual consequences of that deterioration.

 

Chen Guo looked on in awe. Just the spinning of the screen was enough to make her feel completely lost. She could barely tell where that massive boss was half the time, never mind the buckle. The level of skill that was required to hit such small targets in succession like that… Her gaze fell to Ye Xiu’s nimble fingers.

 

How skilled was he… really?

 

Chen Guo suddenly felt an excited rush, an urge to join in. Turning to her own computer, she logged in with a new tenth server account and created a Launcher character with the same name as her main account: Chasing Haze. She wanted to join in with Ye Xiu, but was afraid of distracting him, so she stayed silent and began to do the intro quests in hopes of catching up.

 

On the other side of the screen, Seven Fields and co were also watching with similar awe.

Brother expert… was he going to solo a hidden boss? He had yet to take any damage from this fight, showing immense skill and speed.

 

He sounded so young, yet he had told them he was twenty-five. Or maybe… was he not a ‘he’ at all, but a ‘she’? The voice was a little low for a girl, but still on the cusp of androgynity. Maybe he was a member of a training camp? But why would he be training up an account in the tenth server and how did he get his hands on such a wacky weapon that really couldn’t be anything but a cheat or a silver weapon? Could it be that he was a prodigy hoping to get noticed by the pro teams?

 

So lost in their thoughts they were, they almost missed Ye Xiu’s commands for them to help.

Nonetheless, they managed to obtain the Skeleton Warrior first kill and saber with ease.

 

Ye Xiu glanced at Chen Guo’s screen.

 

“Chasing Haze…?” He murmured, drawing Chen Guo’s attention. “That name sounds familiar.”

 

“Of course it would,” Chen Guo responded, “It’s the same name as my main account.”

 

“... Can’t you have a little more creativity?”

 

Chen Guo shot him a glare, but let it go. “Anyways, are you done? Can I join your party?”

 

“Boss… You’re level 2 right now… You can’t even go into dungeons yet,” Ye Xiu reminded the other.

 

“Oh… right…” Chen Guo sounded distinctly downcast.

“... But I can wait for you and help you level?” Ye Xiu offered, feeling uncomfortable at how dispirited she sounded.

 

“You sure?” Chen Guo looked at him in surprise.

 

Ye Xiu nodded. “Yeah, I still need some materials before I can really make any sort of substantial progress in higher levelled areas, and you probably aren’t used to all-nighters. You should just go to sleep.” He really wanted a cigarette right now, but with how adamant Chen Guo had been before, he doubt he’d get what he wanted. Especially not if she stayed. Maybe he could bum a cigarette off one of the customers if she left?

 

It only took a moment of silence for Ye Xiu to realize that Chen Guo was staring at him weirdly. “What?” he asked, feeling a little helpless. Did he do something wrong?

 

“You aren’t thinking of smoking after I leave are you?”

 

“...” Holy shit, she was a mind reader. He smiled blindingly. “Of course not.”

 

Chen Guo suddenly got up and left, but then soon returned with a small, red box. Ye Xiu blinked at her. It was too big to be a pack of cigarettes… It looked familiar. Wasn’t this a snack that Mucheng liked?

 

“Here,” Chen Guo shoved the box at him. The word “Pocky” was emblazoned onto the front. Ye Xiu stared at Chen Guo blankly. “It might help with distracting you from that nasty habit of smoking,” Chen Guo explained before staring at him expectantly.

 

Ye Xiu stared back for a moment longer before giving in and tearing open the packet with a sigh. He placed one stick of pocky in his mouth like he would his beloved cancer sticks.

 

Hm.. it… wasn’t bad, Ye Xiu realized with some surprise. No wonder Mucheng liked these things so much. He gnawed on the end of the pocky stick and quickly ate one before going after a second. Part way through, he was distracted by Seven Fields telling him about this new player they found and returned to the game, pocky still hanging from his mouth.

 

He didn’t notice Chen Guo’s amused look as she snapped a photo for Su Mucheng to see later.

Ye Xiu was just too adorable.

Chapter Text

 Happy birthday Ye Xiu (and Ye Qiu)!

 

Ye Xiu hummed upon seeing the new party addition. Immersed Jade, a female avatar. Now, whether or not the person behind the monitor resembled the avatar, that was the true question. It would not be the first time a guy decided to masquerade as a female gamer in order to be carried.

He glanced at the party chat's messages before Immersed Jade was invited and could barely hold back his laughter.

These guys...were they followers of the Blue Rain Monastery?

Immersed Jade was ecstatic, her avatar bouncing in place. Out of all the other possible players, she was the one this team of experts chose! She hadn't expected to even encounter them! She had tried running the Spider Cave as well with other people, only for them to get wiped out. 

“Ah thank you for allowing me to join! Oh my, you guys are only level 18 yet you were able to get the first clear? Amazing!” Immersed Jade exclaimed, examining her new party members’ stats. “There’s only four of you right now, so since you were looking for a party member, does that mean your party has a free spot?”

When Seven Fields and the others heard her express her excitement and gratitude over the voice system, they were stunned. Ye Xiu tilted his head in consideration.

Like other games, Glory had a voice system. It was, after all, far more convenient to speak rather than type while playing. With how intense Glory was in regards to micro-managing, it was easy to ferret out frauds. Hiding one's gender was rarely successful now, and claiming that talking was impossible would only bring suspicion. It was why Seven Fields and the others were talking up a storm just moments before, wondering whether Immersed Jade was actually a girl. Her voluntarily speaking up cleared the issue perfectly.

Although...if the person had an androgynous voice like Lord Grim's user did...

 

Ye Xiu hadn’t bothered trying to alter his voice in any way, but since he had regained his youth, he found himself midway through puberty again. His voice no longer cracked, thankfully, but it was not as low and deep as before. With his soft-spoken yet assertive manner of speaking, it was easy for Seven Fields and the others to be unsure of Brother Expert’s gender. Plus, twenty-five? Please, they were not that gullible. They were more willing to believe that Lord Grim was using a voice changer than him(?) actually being 25.

Rushing forward to take a glimpse at her character, Seven Fields and the others formed a circle around her, eventually deeming her ‘average.’ It was too bad that Lord Grim was a male character, which made Brother Expert even more mysterious. Was Lord Grim any indication of Brother Expert’s true appearance? Perhaps a male version of her true self? Or was it actually Brother Expert’s appearance, which meant Brother Expert was actually a male? It wasn’t like they could ask after starting off on the wrong foot.

After scoring her, Immersed Jade's questions finally registered within Seven Fields' mind. He winced. "We have another friend who normally parties with us and simply couldn't make it today."

"Oh! So it's like that. Do you guys need a substitute player then? What guild are you from? Since you guys are so good, are you perhaps a part of a gaming organisation? A studio? A club?" Immersed Jade excitedly asked, not letting the initial rejection bring her down.

Sunset Clouds and Drifting Water exchanged glances. Immersed Jade had a very rose-colored view of them due to Brother Expert's guidance. What would happen when they enter the dungeon, and she learned that they were not as good as she thought they were?

With similar thoughts in mind, Seven Fields decided to divert the interrogation before Immersed Jade realised the truth, exclaiming, “Oh, let’s hurry up and enter!” Sunset Clouds and the others followed closely. After entering the dungeon, Ye Xiu began directing as usual.

"Seven Fields, you take point," Ye Xiu commanded, maneuvering Lord Grim to follow just behind.

Right after he spoke, Immersed Jade asked in bafflement, “Ah, who was that? I'm sorry, I haven't memorised whose voice matches with which character yet.”

There were four other people in the party, but the ones she was talking to earlier were Seven Fields, Sunset Clouds, and Drifting Water. So, did that mean that voice right now belonged to Lord Grim? Wait, was Lord Grim a girl or a guy? She had some female friends with voices just as androgynous and knew how easily irritated they could get when mistaken for a guy. They also sometimes played male avatars because they didn't want to deal with getting harassed in-game. She didn't know what to do; she didn't want to anger one of these experts by mistake and get blacklisted! 

"That's our party leader, Lord Grim. He's the true expert. Don't mind his abruptness," Seven Fields explained. He then lowered his voice so that only she could hear, "I think he's kind of shy." When he got no further response from her, he quickly added, "Anyway, he's the reason we claimed the first kills! You can learn a lot from him, so pay close attention. If you have any questions, ask me. I'm like his second-in-command."

Upon hearing this, Immersed Jade paid her respects in both text and voice. “I pay respects to the great god!” She still had no clue as to this great god’s true gender though and resolved to just call them great god.

Ye Xiu laughed and began directly the dungeon raid. "Let's go then." He found himself falling into familiar motions, quick commands to direct the party where to go, sharp movements to cover for mistakes, gentle scolding...this was all very familiar. He couldn't help but inwardly sigh. Immersed Jade took to his teachings fairly quick, similar to Qiu Fei and the other trainees when he found the time to drop by and give them pointers. He didn't know if she would continue being so enthusiastic in the future, however, and that was what caused him to sigh.

Their pace naturally slowed down with all the detailed instructions Ye Xiu was giving out this time, but no one really minded. Immersed Jade devoutly followed his pointers to the bet of her ability, apologising profusely for each mistake and causing Lord Grim to wave it off with a laugh. This, however, only made Immersed Jade a greater fan of his. Meanwhile, the members of Full Moon guild found themselves correcting small habits of theirs as they listened to Lord Grim's coaching, which made them wonder who exactly this expert was. Their voice sounded rather young, yet they claimed to be twenty-five. They might be in a training camp, but with Brother Expert being guildless, that possibility was rather small. Was he remaining guildless to try and catch the eye of one of the major guilds? It would have been easier if Brother—or was it Sister—Expert used a female character, but if it was actually Sister Expert, she might be using a male character to avoid harassment. With an androgynous voice like that, it wasn’t like anyone could definitely confirm if Lord Grim was one of those rare finds or not. A female expert? They would be snatched up immediately just for publicity’s sake even if their skill fell short of club elite status.

Giving up on their speculations, Seven Fields and the others just followed Lord Grim’s instructions and cleared several dungeons, all the way until they all leveled up to level 20.

"I made it to level 20! That was so fast!" Immersed Jade exclaimed.

"Haha, congrats! Let's all head back to town and choose a class then," Seven Fields said, already walking in that direction.

"You guys go ahead, I plan to continue grinding for materials," Ye Xiu said, quitting the party.

Stunned, the others froze and watched as a system message popped up, declaring the party's disbandment.

"You're not going with us to pick a class?" Sunset Clouds asked, confused. Lord Grim was the first of the party to reach level 20, after all. He could have chosen to leave earlier and grab a class, yet he stuck around and kept leading the party till everyone reached level 20.

 

Ye Xiu waved them off, saying, "I only want to take one trip there. I'll go back after I get those drops." In truth, he didn't plan on choosing a class, but he didn't think these people would understand what an Unspecialised character was without a lengthy explanation.

"Then, let's add each other as friends, Brother Expert, and party together again in the future!" Seven Fields said, worried that this might be the end of their relationship.

Ye Xiu nodded and sent off a round of friend requests. He couldn't tackle all the dungeons he needed materials from alone, after all.

"Goodbye, Great God!" Immersed Jade felt as if this party had roamed the plains together for half a lifetime. Under this great god’s tutelage, her entire outlook had changed. Still unable to pinpoint down this expert’s gender, however, she ultimately decided to continue calling them great god.

Since Chen Guo left him the level 5 Chasing Haze to level and use as he pleased, he formed a two-person party to tackle the Midnight Phantom Cat. He still needed a few more materials from it! Even if he would be gaining only a pittance amount of experience, it wasn’t like he was in a particular rush to level. The Myriad Manifestations Umbrella had higher priority.

In one hour, he could enter the Green Forest dungeon a maximum of six times, once every ten minutes. If the Hidden Boss didn’t crop up, Ye Xiu immediately left the dungeon and lingered outside the entrance, choosing to spend his time elsewhere as he waited. He mostly spent his time rereading his old guides, as it had been years and the information had become hazy since then.

By the fourth time he entered and then exited the dungeon, he began wondering if his luck had been influenced by Zhang Jiale somehow. His luck normally wasn’t this bad. After the fifth time, he closed the latest guide and decided to check QQ, only to remember that he couldn’t exactly use his actual account anymore due to his current...affliction.

Seeing that he had around five more minutes of wait time, he quickly created a new account under the username Lord Grim and sent Su Mucheng a friend request. Ye Xiu then tabbed out of that window and went back to grinding for materials. Alternating back and forth between two computers as he controlled both Lord Grim and Chasing Haze, he paid little mind to the growing crowd behind him. Ye Xiu was used to stares, so their heavy gazes didn’t tug his attention elsewhere at all.

"Hey, you're pretty good at this, kid. Did Boss tell you to carry her new avatar or something? Isn't it confusing to play on two computers?"

Ye Xiu laughed but didn’t even turn around, his mind wholly focused on Glory. "I'm borrowing Boss' account to grind for materials." With that, he began to zone out their background commentary. It was a thrill playing without any restrictions. His new youth was indeed a new start.

After killing off his second Midnight Phantom Cat, he obtained four Midnight Cat Claws, bringing his total up to six. He was just short of the eight needed for his umbrella, so one more Hidden Boss clear would be enough.

Three fruitless rounds later, he received a system message out of the blue, from a player named Blue River requesting to be his friend. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as he instantly recognised what guild this player was from. Blue River? What other guild but Blue Rain could it be? These clubs really needed to improve their naming sense. Though, should he accept? He didn’t really have any reason not to.

He was a level 20 player standing outside the dungeon, so it might just be a naming coincidence. This player might just want a high-leveled friend to carry him. Finding this to be too much trouble, Ye Xiu chose to ignore the request, only to receive another one which he promptly ignored. He should have just rejected it, Ye Xiu felt eighteen requests and ten minutes later. Deeply moved by such persistence, however, Ye Xiu finally accepted the latest friend request.

“Hi, let me introduce myself. I’m Blue River of Blue Brook Guild; my main account is Blue Bridge Spring Snow.” It seemed like this player was rather confident in themselves, as there was no hesitation at all.

Seeing his suspicions confirmed but still not recognising the player, Ye Xiu replied with a simple, “Hi.” A notification from QQ appeared at the corner of his screen, alerting him about the acceptance of his friend request.

While he fended off this Blue River’s questions, he chatted casually with Mucheng.

「Dancing Rain is now online.」
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
You made a new account?
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
It wasn’t like I could use my old one.
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
How's the apartment search?
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
So-so, haven’t had a lot of time with the newbie making a mess of things.
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Newbie? Is that how little respect you have for him?
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
That’s more than he deserves
How’s the 10th server? I should be able to find time to join you soon
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Productive. Just left Beginner Town and heading to Frost Forest. Blue Brook seems to be scouting me.

Ye Xiu sent Blue River a message after finally exchanging his 1255 skill points for skills and leaving Beginner Town.

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
The old bartering strategy?
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Mn, like the good old days.
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Have fun (^^)
Don’t traumatise them too much. Leave some for me

Smiling slightly at Mucheng’s parting words, he turned his attention back to Glory and began navigating his way to the coordinates Blue River had sent him. Ye Xiu resolutely ignored the underlying bloodthirsty and vindictive message within his pseudo-sister’s words. His precious ball of sunshine was an angel, regardless of what anyone else said.

As he approached the silent group of four from Blue Brook guild, Ye Xiu tested his mic. “Hello? My mice is working, right?”

The young, androgynous voice drew the party out of their speechlessness. Was this expert a female? For real? They immediately began interrogating Blue River, who was stunned himself. Luckily, Lord Grim had yet to be added to the party, so the channel was free from prying eyes.

“How lucky are you, Blue River?” Thundering Light asked.

“Such luck, and an expert too!” Bound Boat exclaimed. If Lord Grim was actually as skilled as they appeared for obtaining the first clear, perhaps Blue Rain might one day shed its dreaded monastery nickname?!

“I can hear you,” Blue River verbally responded even as he kept up with the party chat.

“You didn’t find the wrong person, right?” Flower Lantern questioned, not as distracted as the others. He felt exasperated with his party, in all honesty. Was the appearance of a female player that impressive? Have they forgotten the mismatched, horrendous, vomit-inducing appearance of this so-called expert? He then remembered which guild and organisation he belonged to and facepalmed.

“Hi, everyone,” Ye Xiu greeted casually, adjusting his mic so that it was a bit further away from his mouth. This inadvertently caused his voice to grow a bit softer to Blue River and co's ears.

“Hi…..” It seemed like the party still had yet to fully break free of the stun spell.

“I’ll introduce us. Bound Boat, Flower Lantern, Thundering Light, are all elite experts from Blue Brook Guilds.” Blue River introduced the other three party members he had brought along.

“Hi everyone. Nice to meet you all. Uh, can you guys wait a bit longer? Sorry about this,” Ye Xiu said just before his character stopped moving completely.

“Perhaps she (1) just hasn’t found time to change classes yet? Blue River did pick her up outside the Green Forest dungeon,” Thundering Light reasoned. After hearing the voice a few more times, he was certain that a girl was behind this Lord Grim character.

“He said he would soon……” Blue River typed. Even though he thought of Lord Grim as a male, he wavered just like the others. That voice really was too ambiguous.

“If she’s like this, can she help us break the record?” Flowering Lantern doubted.

“It doesn't matter if it's broken. We're supposed to determine this person’s background.” Blue River reminded them.

Blue River eyed the still motionless, classless player while discussing this situation with his companions. Bound Boat had just brought up the idea of an Unspecialised character, yet from what Blue River remembered, few could play one. Even an elite would have trouble playing one; only a skilled pro player would be able to play such an account at an expert level due to their intimate knowledge of Glory, and this unattached player couldn’t be one. Anyone with such potential would have long been picked up by a club.

No weapon, so Thundering Light’s assumption about multiple weapons to switch class skills couldn’t be confirmed either. Who was this Lord Grim?

Moments after wondering about this peculiarity, an umbrella of all things appeared in Lord Grim’s hands. With wide eyes, they watched as the umbrella shifted to look as if it just came out of a losing battle against a thunderstorm, with the umbrella flipped and looking utterly broken.

Well, at least they got to play with what sounded like a cute girl?

“Brother, you’re back?” Blue River went and extended him a party invitation.

“Yup,” Ye Xiu responded as he joined the party and then the Blue Brook guild. With all these logistics out of the way, the party was about to enter the dungeon, except Ye Xiu called them to stop.

“Hold on……” Ye Xiu said, his tone contemplative as he looked at everyone’s equipment to determine their classes. Forgetting that he sounded rather young, he immediately wrested command away from Blue River. At a loss, the true Blue Brook guild members found themselves sending Bound Boat and then Flower Lantern away for Returning Cloud and then Lunar Grace.

How unlucky for them to meet such a demanding female expert, because now the Knight and Cleric found themselves excluded from a party with two skilled female players. Well, hopefully two skilled female players; this Lord Grim was making them question the first clear records previously set.

Flower Lantern chuckled as he heard Blue River scramble after this player they were investigating. Maybe he had lucked out in not having to follow this crazy girl’s leadership.

He meandered around the dungeon entrance, bored out of his mind. With his regular party split up to cater to this Lord Grim’s demands, he had nothing to do. Tabbing out of the game for now, he checked the forums.

Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General -> Lord Grim?!?!

1st Floor — WhisperingLight

Okay, so has anyone heard of this Lord Grim before? What’s up with this name? Where the fuck did this expert come from? First Clear? Already?

2nd Floor — DancingMoon

Sofa! (2)

3rd Floor — SilverStream

Second kill!

...

134th Floor — ImmersedJade

Great God is truly great and really helpful! I learned so much from partying with them!

135th Floor — CarelessBlade

LS,(3) you met this person? Why are you referring to Lord Grim as them?

136th Floor - ImmersedJade

I can’t tell if Lord Grim is a guy or not even after hearing their voice. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Scrolling through the topic dedicated to Lord Grim, Flower Lantern exited after a brief skim, finding nothing new compared to their prior research. The topic above Lord Grim?!?!, however, had him avoiding out of principle.

Glory Forums → Pro League → Excellent Era → Ye Qiu’s Retirement

He was staying far, far away from that nuclear warhead.

Outside of the dungeon and bored, Flower Lantern sent a message: “So? The chick the real deal or no? You speechless?”

“God, he’s a real fucking God!!” Blue River replied, his fingers trembling from excitement. What was this luck?

“What are you talking about?” Flower Lantern frowned, eyebrows furrowing. "You're not shitting me, are you?"

“One Wave Rush! One Wave Rush!” Blue River experienced this just now yet he was still in disbelief.

“The fuck?!” Flower Lantern couldn’t understand what Blue River was saying. What did One Wave Rush have to do with this Lord Grim's playing ability?

“We’re rolling through with One Wave Rush!” Blue River quickly typed out, only paying half a mind to the chat window. Blue River hurried after Lord Grim, his sword still out and ready for battle.

“You’re joking, right?” Flower Lantern was bemused. One Wave Rush? Was Blue River actually joking?

“Just wait till we’re on TV, ha ha ha!”

Flower Lantern just closed the chat, shaking his head. The world didn't make sense anymore. Did Blue River go crazy from the disappointment? Or was that girl actually as good as they originally suspected?

Chapter Text

Dungeoning with Blue River and co was much easier than dungeoning with Seven Fields and his friends. While Ye Xiu didn’t mind it, he had to admit that Blue River and the members in his party were on a completely different level to Seven Fields and the others. Better equipment, faster hand speed, more experience. They were nowhere near pro level, but they could definitely be considered experts amongst normal players.

 

They sped through the dungeon and, soon enough, were faced with their first boss: Goblin Patrol Guard.

 

“I’ll pull, do your best to DPS,” Ye Xiu said.

“How long should we give you?” Blue River asked professionally. Usually, MTs pulled by fighting the BOSS solo for a few seconds to gain enough aggro, so that the other members of the party wouldn’t OT it as soon as they joined in.

“It’s fine. Start attacking once its pulled.”

 

Blue River was stunned by the response. Not just him, but their entire team. So stunned, that it took a reminder from Lord Grim for them to launch their assault.

 

Lord Grim’s rapid fire attacks were a sight to see, but Blue River and the others knew that they couldn’t stand there admiring it if they wanted that dungeon record.

 

At first, Blue River and the others didn’t dare go all out. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t believe in this expert’s skill, but the chance of OT made things too risky.

 

That was when a slightly irritated voice rung out. “Go all out! It won’t OT!”

 

Blue River and co could feel sweat bead on their foreheads. They didn’t want to anger this expert by not giving him - her? - face, or irritate the other, but the idea of an OT wasn’t a nice one. Therefore, they attacked with all their might.

 

To their shock, the goblin never once turned to them as it chased Lord Grim left and right, and it fell just like that. The four were rather embarrassed; they had focused on DPS, yet they never managed to draw the boss’ ire at all. Lord Grim wasn’t even a tanking class.

 

“Brother, how did you manage to pull it so steadily?” Blue River couldn’t help but ask.

“I just made sure my damage was greater than yours.”

 

The four were left speechless, but Lord Grim quickly began pulling more monsters so they had to turn their attention to fighting. That didn’t stop them from discussing amongst themselves though.

 

“Do you recognize that lance?” Blue River asked the others, only get a negative response from the others. He fell silent as they began to tease each other.

 

Blue River had an idea… an absurd one, but an idea. He wouldn’t say he was 100 percent certain he knew all the lances available in Glory, but… would it be too absurd to think that it could be a Silver Weapon? To normal players, the concept of a Silver Weapon was so far away that they didn’t have any idea what had to go into the creation and maintenance of one, but as a core member of a guild like Blue Brook, Blue River had a much clearer idea.

 

It was crazy to think that this player might’ve created his own silver weapon, but this wasn’t something unheard of. After all, Swoksaar, One Autumn Leaf, these accounts all came into their clubs with their Silver Weapons handy.

 

No. He was definitely getting ahead of himself. What he had to focus on right now, was setting the dungeon record - and recruiting this player into Blue Brook guild. Maybe, if he turned out to be skilled enough, Blue River could ask one of the pro team’s members to take a look. Blue River personally thought that he was definitely strong enough. This expert’s skill was far above his own, after all, and he wasn’t being arrogant when he said he was definitely among some of the best non-pros.

 

His spirits rose; things were looking up for Blue Brook guild.

 

And then they plummeted again when he got schooled on the basics by their dear expert.

 

However, that all turned into ashes on the wind when the system announcement window popped up, declaring that they had beaten the previous record by 5 minutes. Five whole minutes! And Herb Garden’s record, too! What an absolute delight! Blue River was all too happy to shove this in Plantago Seed’s face.

 

“The items?”

 

Blue River was pulled off his happy cloud by the expectant voice. He turned to see Lord Grim looking at him with that expressionless face belonging to game avatars. The upwards tilt to the other’s voice was strangely adorable.

 

“Bound Boat, the items?” Blue River turned to Bound Boat, who went to trade with Lord Grim.

 

Lord Grim accepted the trade. “What?” This time, the young voice was tinted with confusion, probably at finding much more materials than had been agreed on.

 

Blue River cheerfully explained things to the other, that the five minute difference deserved those extra materials, but had never expected that Lord Grim would just leave after that, but, at the very least they managed to add each other as friends.

 

It was only quite a while afterwards that Lunar Grace asked the real question: “How skilled do you think they really are?”

 


 

When Ye Xiu returned to Seven Fields and the others, he returned to a very strange situation.

 

There seemed to be an argument going on between Seven Fields and co and a Cleric called Endless Night.

 

“God!” Immersed Jade was the first to notice him, probably because she was the only one not participating in the argument.

 

Her call caused the others to notice him and the Endless Night character rushed forwards before the others could react. “You’re Lord Grim? It’s an honor to meet you. I’m Endless Night, an expert from Tyrannical Ambition,” Endless Night introduced himself.

 

“Hi…” Ye Xiu began, only to be cut off by Seven Fields, who quickly jogged over with the others.

 

“Fuck! You shameless bastard, stay away from Brother Expert!”

 

Ye Xiu blinked at his screen in confusion. Was he missing something?

 

Seven Fields was ignored by the Cleric, that was, until, Seven Field’s character bodily pushed his way between Lord Grim and Endless Night, looking ready to duke things out with the Cleric. He was just one Cleric, after all. How hard would killing him be?

 

“Don’t be like that, brother Seven Fields. I’d say we’re good friends after that dungeon run, wouldn’t you?” Endless Night sounded exasperated and patronizing, fanning the flames of Seven Field’s anger even higher.

 

“Brother my ass! Don’t believe a word he says, Brother Expert; he’s just a pervert.”

 

“Hey!” Endless Night objected, but seemed to be at a loss for words after that. He definitely hadn’t been expecting to be called a pervert.

 

Ye Xiu was even more confused. “Okay, well… shall we go and run some dungeons?” he addressed Seven Fields. Endless Night was stunned upon hearing Lord Grim’s voice. He hadn’t expected the other to sound so… young.

 

“Yes, let’s go!” Seven Fields immediately agreed, sending Lord Grim a party request. “You,” he then turned to Endless Night, “Can fuck off.”

 

“Hey, that’s not nice! Take me with you!” Endless Night objected, returning to the present. “I promise I’m not some sort of pervert!”

 

“We don’t have space,” Seven Fields bit back.

 

“Sister, do you mind giving your place to me?” Endless Night asked Immersed Jade.

 

“I…” Immersed Jade had no idea how to respond to that.

 

Ye Xiu paused and had Lord Grim turn back to Endless Night. “You’re a Cleric, right?” he asked.

 

“Yes, a Cleric from Tyrannical Ambition. I’m an expert as well, you can count on me,” Endless Night immediately said without a hint of shame.

 

“Huh, you have an orange weapon, Crystal Cross,” Ye Xiu noted.

 

“You have a good eye, brother.”

 

“We don’t need a Cleric,” Ye Xiu replied, rendering Endless Night speechless.

 

“Bahahahaha!” Seven Fields burst into merciless laughter. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

 

And the five left Endless Night alone outside, still trying to recover from that blow.

 

Much to Seven Field’s irritation, Endless Night was still waiting outside when they came out from using up their runs. “No more runs?”

 

“I still have one more run.” Ye Xiu said honestly.

“What a coincidence! I have one more run, too!” Endless Night said.

“Is that so?” Ye Xiu laughed.

“Here’s something even more of a coincidence! I have three friends who only have one more run, too. Don’t you think that’s simply serendipitous?” Endless Night said. Three people had already come over from the crowd. Their guild name Tyrannical Ambition displayed above their heads.

“That really quite the coincidence.” Ye Xiu said.

“Since it’s such a coincidence. Why don’t we all just do a run together?” Endless Night said.

“Why don’t we set a new record then?” Ye Xiu asked.

“Okay okay!” Endless Night was practically jumping in excitement.

“If we’re going to set a new record, then I have two conditions.” Ye Xiu said.

“Shoot.”

“One, I charge a fee.” Ye Xiu said.

“Oh, that’ll be easy.” Endless Night said, “And the other?”

“We don’t need a cleric.” Ye Xiu’s laughter was evident in his tone.

 

In the end, Endless Night got what he wanted: a dungeoning session with Lord Grim and a promise of a new record, only to be scammed when he asked the other to lead. Were all kids so dirty-hearted these days???

 

Endless Night wanted to cry. Lord Grim had used a guide from the forums word-for-word. However, he didn’t want to be a bully by yelling at a kid. Still… “Brother,” he typed with a few crying emojis, “You really aren’t kind to trick us with a guide.”

“I didn’t. I wrote that guide.” Ye Xiu said.

Huh? Endless Night immediately turned his head and asked the person who had found the guide: “Who wrote that guide?”

The other clearly hadn’t been paying attention to that detail. He went back to the first post and said: “One Autumn Leaf.”

 

Endless Night: … I feel tired in my heart, there’s a kid so shameless out there.

 

Unfortunately, he didn’t get a chance to pursue the issue, for Ye Xiu had to work. Soon enough, it was time for Ye Xiu to switch with the morning shift employees. After greeting everyone, he went upstairs to rest, feeling strangely exhausted. His body probably wasn’t as used to these all-nighters in this form.

 

He saw Chen Guo asleep on the couch and sleepily grabbed a blanket for her before collapsing onto his own bed.


 

When Ye Xiu next woke up, he was first greeted first with cold youtiao and soy milk and then with an uncharacteristically cheerful Chen Guo. Upon seeing her and how cheerful she was, Ye Xiu’s steps faltered briefly in his approach. He really wanted a cigarette now… or even pocky. Pocky was good, too.

 

“Come over here, Little Leaf, I want you to meet someone,” Chen Guo said. Ye Xiu shifted over cautiously, causing Chen Guo to raise an eyebrow at him. “Tang Rou, Ye Xiu,” she introduced as the younger lady behind her stood to greet Ye Xiu.

 

“Hi,” Tang Rou said, peering at Ye Xiu curiously and reaching out with a hand. Ye Xiu took and shook her hand and Chen Guo stared. Their hands were so pretty. In his original form, Ye Xiu’s hand would be larger than Tang Rou’s, however, after he had deaged, their hands were the same size. Looking at Ye Xiu’s hands alone, Chen Guo would think this were a young lady from high society.

 

“Hi hi,” Ye Xiu greeted back, voice muffled by the youtiao. Usually, Chen Guo would be against this sort of impolite act, but Ye Xiu was just too adorable. She snapped another picture.

 

“Anyways, you two should fight a round,” Chen Guo suggested once the two shook hands, “Tang Rou is really good at Glory.”

 

“I’m just so-so,” Tang Rou replied modestly. “It’s not a hard game, after all.”

 

Ye Xiu’s chewing paused as Chen Guo and Tang Rou continued to chat.

 

“Sure,” he suddenly said, interrupting them. “I’ll fight you. You don’t have an account, though, right?”

 

“I’ll lend you mine!” Chen Guo said to Tang Rou before turning to Ye Xiu. “Do you need another account as well?”

 

“No, I’ll use mine,” Ye Xiu said, “We can use a fixed field.”

 

“Oh… but, the skills will be imbalanced…” Chen Guo protested weakly.

 

“It’s ok. I’m using Unspecialized.”

 

Swipe and log in, Lord Grim and Chasing Haze loaded into the arena. Some of the customers saw this and began to gather around to watch.

 

“How about we make a bet, just fighting like this is too boring,” Ye Xiu suggested, only to get prodded harshly in the side of his head by Chen Guo. “Ow!” he put a hand over the place he was prodded at and looked up innocently at Chen Guo as if asking what he had done wrong.

 

“Not just smoking but gambling? You’re a kid, Little Leaf, you need to get rid of these bad habits,” Chen Guo scolded.

 

“I’m an adult though…” Ye Xiu cried internally. A hundred RMB bill was suddenly placed on the desk. Ye Xiu and Chen Guo blinked at it and then at the smiling Tang Rou.

 

“It’s just for fun, Guoguo,” Tang Rou said.

 

Ye Xiu grinned and rummaged through his pockets, but all he found was an empty Pocky box. He looked up at Chen Guo, wide eyed.

 

Chen Guo sighed, crumbling. “Fine.” She placed a hundred RMB bill down as well. “But it’s coming out of your paycheck!”

 

“Ok, ok,” Ye Xiu agreed happily.

 

And then the match started…

 

And then it ended.

 

Turns out, Tang Rou really was just a beginner. Ye Xiu sighed.

 

“Your mechanics are quick, but your left and right hand coordination is a complete mess. When your viewpoint changes abruptly, your adaptability and judgement is pretty much nonexistent. You don’t have nearly enough understanding for equipment and skills. You barely have any real combat experience and your tactics are inflexible, how could this be considered playing? If you want to beat me with this level of skill, come back in a hundred years!”

Nonetheless, Tang Rou didn’t give up. Her persistence was admirable, but that didn’t mean she could win.

“Lord Grim, that’s the tenth server’s Lord Grim,” some people noticed.

“That… that kid is Lord Grim???”

“Take a video, quick!”


As Ye Xiu beat Tang Rou over and over, in other cities, the wheels of fate were turning and shifting.

Xu Boyuan stared up at the ceiling blankly. He had wanted to observe some more before coming to any decisions, but Lunar Grace’s words rang in his head.

“How skilled are they, really?”

Xu Boyuan didn’t know and he wasn’t sure he wanted to find out, but while ignorance was bliss, an unknown wasn’t a good thing for them. Lord Grim was skilled, much more skilled than the likes of them, and the sooner he stopped deluding himself, the better.

He finally looked back at the computer screen and opened up QQ.

 

 

 

Blue River (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
We need to talk

Changing Spring’s response was as concise as ever.

 

 

 

Changing Spring (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
?
Blue River (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
There’s a person I think the team should be notified about.

In the middle of the night in a country far, far away, in a normal room in a normal apartment, the screen of a phone lit up in the dim light. The man in front of the laptop at the desk paused, glancing at the phone.

 

 

 

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I think there’s something you should know.
Something’s happened to Ye Xiu.

At the sound of a crash, the man sleeping in the other room was awakened. He groaned. What on earth? Was that idiot up doing an allnighter again?

Chapter Text

With Chen Guo’s assistance - and input from Ye Xiu - Tang Rou started to level up a new Battle Mage, Soft Mist.

“Why do you keep eating osmanthus tangyuan, Little Leaf?” Tang Rou asked the next day in between levelling up her character. So far it was slow going, a monotony upon which the foundations of her skills was being laid upon. “I paid for you already - nine yuan, no need to repay me.”

“Huh? Oh…” Ye Xiu reflected in between controlling Lord Grim to hunt down monsters at Boneyard. “Er… did the guy mention who he was?”

“He says that he sells tangyuan at the Broken Bridge,” Tang Rou clarified.

“Mmm.”

Ye Xiu had been asking, because both Su Mucheng and the lady boss had also mentioned it. He hadn’t eaten osmanthus tangyuan much - at least, only one bowl. What kind of cheap hawker would sell a whole bowl for nine yuan , and then proceed to collect funds for the same bowl over and over again, bore talking to. Tang Rou might not care about that nine yuan - she had not even cared about the 1,100 yuan lost in a bet - but Ye Xiu cared enough that a street hawker was apparently stalking him and everyone else he talked to in the Internet Café to collect on this one bowl.

Tang Rou’s next words, however, diverted his attention. “I suppose he’s cashing in on the tourists who try and throw tangyuan into the West Lake.”

“Huh? Why?” Ye Xiu asked. “Is there a drama based there?”

“You haven’t heard of Madame White Snake ?” Tang Rou sounded surprised.

“Sister, I’m young,” Ye Xiu defaulted to the best way to break up criticism of his lack of popular culture - admit it. “So… Madame White Snake has the snake-lady and the medicine guy, right? Where does tossing tangyuan into the lake come in?”

“The story opens with the immortal Lü Dongbin disguised as a hawker selling tangyuan by the Broken Bridge at the West Lake,” Chen Guo interjected by the side. “The poor scholar Xu Xian buys tangyuan without knowing that those were actually immortality pills. He does not feel hungry or thirsty after eating them, so he goes back to ask why. Lü Dongbin carries Xu Xian to the bridge, where he flips him upside down and causes him to vomit the tangyuan into the lake. The white snake eats it, and thus gains years of cultivation to change into the maiden Bai Suzhen. At least, that’s how the Hangzhou story goes. Little Leaf, you’re not local, are you?”

“Er, my parents… were from the capital…” Ye Xiu decided to fix a cover story with Su Mucheng really, really quickly. “Lady Boss, you really like to gossip, hehehe...”

“I’m your boss!” Chen Guo flared up, crossing her arms before her expression changed, as if something had just occurred to her. “Oh, Little Leaf, I set up a Weibo account to reply to those videos of your Arena fight with Little Tang. They’re all over Bilibili, there’s no helping it. At least you’d have some press to enter Excellent Era if you feel like it.”

“Er… thanks, I’ll think about it…” Ye Xiu sweated.

If he went back there, he might actually see a worse end than being shut up in Leifeng Pagoda. This time, Lord Grim couldn’t actually step out of the game and save him…

… aaaaaand he had definitely watched too many dramas with Mucheng.

Time to play more Glory.

However, Ye Xiu barely had any chance to reflect upon his current genre savviness, because a twist of events was already occurring. It started with a kill-stealer from Blue Brook Guild, who was then caught and run away, but Blue River still invited him along to hunt down the first wild BOSSES in Glory-

-- Blood Gunner Yagg.

It was fortunate that right now, Ye Xiu had a guild backing him. For one, the real danger of wild BOSSes always came from the competitors. Furthermore, Wild BOSSes relied on total damage to determine the aggro and share of drops.

“Brawler, Sand Toss.” Ye Xiu yelled as a Sky Strike knocked the Blood Gunner into the air.

“Alright, miss!” the Brawler tossed a handful of sand into the back of the Blood Gunner’s head.

“I’m a guy!” Ye Xiu started sweating -- this player being a complete noob, albeit one with great hand speed, had been out of his expectations. He immediately instructed: “Sand Toss whenever it’s off cooldown, throw sand at its face.”

“Then Brick Buster!” Ye Xiu continued to patiently instruct this Brawler, even going as far as using the official skill name.

A Brick headed towards the Blood Gunner’s head. The flying brick’s damage was reduced by half, the chance to Dizzy was reduced by half, the Dizzy duration was reduced by half…

Moreover, this Brick flew askew.

“Idiot, pick up the Brick and smash the back of its head!” Another person acted on behalf of Ye Xiu to curse at this newbie Brawler.

“OK OK,” came the quick reply. “Oh, those people want to help!”

“Huh?” Ye Xiu turned his head around to see the groups of Blue Brook, Tyrannical Ambition and Herb Garden charge forth to steal the BOSS.

...

“Run!” Ye Xiu ordered. “All of you, run if you want to live!”

Two players in this pick-up group left with the noob Brawler, two more stayed out of skepticism.

Ye Xiu could only shake his head, since he could no longer type or bother to explain in detail. It was only left to…

Rack up a 200-hit combo and toss the Enraged Blood Gunner Yagg into the three great guilds!

Everyone felt the ground underneath loosen. The crooked tombstones and the remnant coffins began shaking, the earth opened up… the Blood Gunner’s Enrage summoned his Undead Legion, number of creatures summoned proportional to the number of players within range of aggro.

The three great guilds’ leaders, who represented the entirety of their respective guilds on the field,  were all in the Blood Gunner’s aggro range...

Instantly, the flow of battle changed to a bloodbath, and the two new players who had stayed were slaughtered.

Lord Grim? He was already running, and Blood Gunner Yagg was still aggroed on him. The Gunner immediately chased after Lord Grim, destroying a Shadow Clone in the meantime.

“Wow!” The noob Brawler exclaimed, having just rushed back. “Beansprout, you’re not bad!”

Lord Grim ignored the other messages spammed from Blue River and Endless Night. “Go elsewhere, kill BOSS.”

“Where are we running to?” The noob Brawler next to Lord Grim asked.

Ye Xiu hadn’t yet replied when another player shouted: “Uh oh! There are people heading towards us.”

“Don’t panic,” Ye Xiu assured. “Give the party leader position to me.”

“Alright beansprout!”

“Who’s a beansprout!”

Ye Xiu sighed after hids own outburst. Returning back to his seventeen-year-old self had also brought back a host of habits which he would rather have forgotten after that guy died…

As he pondered, he opened his friend list and began adding people into the party.

“KILL!” Ye Xiu shouted as two separate groups herded together into one, and began to slaughter the Blood Gunner.

“Increase hand speed!”

“Got it, little bro!”

“...-.-*”

Still in the middle of tanking the BOSS through sheer damage output, Ye Xiu could not quite tilt his camera to look at the noob Brawler. He was, however, very certain that puberty was kicking in. He was even more certain that, had he met this guy before meeting the calming presence of Wu Xuefeng, that Excellent Era would not have had a three-championship streak. Excellent Era’s young captain would have instead died from high blood pressure due to trying to control his temper.

“Doesn’t the Blood Gunner summon again?” Seven Fields asked.

“Yup. At five-percent it’ll summon once more. And before its death, it’ll do Random Fire,” Ye Xiu said, alluding to the restricted Sharpshooter skill which the Blood Gunner threatened as its last-stand move.

“What a shameless BOSS! Level 26 and Random Fire already.” Seven Fields said.

“Just concentrate on dodging and you’ll be fine,” Ye Xiu assured. “The final Random Fire has a high chance to crit. If a few hit, you’ll definitely die.”

“How do we dodge it?” Sleeping Moon raised the question.

“...run some more.”

“F*CK!”

When the Blood Gunner hit five-percent life, the eight players once again left the aggro range. The Blood Gunner summoned a lone zombie, which was instantly smashed into mincemeat by them. The besieging continued, and the Blood Gunner’s Random Firing peppered into the Three Great Guilds coming at them, until Lord Grim stomped it to death.

As the Blood Gunner finally yelled out its final desperate cry, Glory history was made:

System Announcement: Seven Fields, Lord Grim, Steamed Bun Invasion, Grazing Fire, Bright Mushroom, Sleeping Moon, Drifting Water, Immersed Jade have completed the Blood Gunner’s first kill!

Chapter Text

Ye Xiu sighed in relief when the Blood Gunner finally dropped dead. Leading a bunch of normal players to secure a wild BOSS was no easy task – much less when he had the Three Great Guilds to wrestle with. In the end, he did it. And, he also made a pleasant discovery.

“Being younger again truly is amazing.” Ye Xiu marvelled as he subconsciously brought his left hand up and flexed his fingers. He wasn’t feeling any strain at all after suddenly bursting forth with his APM. If anything, his muscles were singing in excitement still. This was not to say that his condition was bad before. Quite the contrary, in fact. At 25, he could jump from one tempo to the next, and back and forth like a gymnast would on the uneven bars. At 25, he could endure play after play, training after training and rigorous match after rigorous match.

At 25, he knew just how domineering the extent of his strength was.

Yet, in this new body that he was still getting accustomed to, he was unsure of where his limits lied.

A rough slap to his back had him almost kissing his keyboard. What a rude way of pulling him from his musings.

“LORD GRIM!!!” Somebody hollered behind him.

“Kid!! That was awesome!!”

“Another first kill!! Duuuuuude!!”

Before he understood what was happening, praises were being rained upon him. He was also being bodily pulled left and right to his great displeasure – someone giving him a noogie here, another ruffling his hair there – while others were simply patting his back or shoulder to congratulate him. Before long, a crowd has flocked around him and all that was heard around the internet café was a cacophony of praise and awe.

Just when Ye Xiu was beginning to regret not going incognito again, cavalry came in the form of a very much vexed Internet Café owner.

“Hey! What are you doing to the poor kid! Let him breathe! He’s already turning blue from all your smothering!” Chen Guo shrieked, elbowing her way around the mass of bodies. Seeing that it was only the fellow Glory-fanatic boss, some of the café regulars didn’t hesitate to update her on the latest news.

“Boss! Boss! Did you hear?”

“The tenth server is in an uproar!”

“Your kid has just snatched the Blood Gunner from right under the Three Great Guilds’ noses!”

What?

“Yeah! I heard Plantago Seed even died in that battle!”

What?

In shock, Chen Guo paused mid-action from shoving somebody’s shoulder out of her way. She looked at the kid in question a few steps away from her – hair in disarray, black frames askew, clothes rumpled from all the commotion. He looked in no way like someone who could just go up and challenge the Three Great Guilds and come back alive to tell the story – much less succeed in pocketing the first kill.

This kid… is something else ,’ she thought, suddenly filled with an awful sense of foreboding. Nevertheless, she pushed her way over. Once before him, she patted his hair into place and straightened his clothes, akin to a true mother hen.

“Did you, now?” It came as an off-handed question because her mind was still reeling from what this innocent looking kid has accomplished already.

3 First kills on the first night; astonishing record breaking times…

… and now this.

Just… How good was this kid exactly?

“Boss, are you okay? You’ve been fixing my glasses for the past minute now.”

Chen Guo blinked, coming back to her senses. Then, she realised that her hands were indeed on either side of the teen’s face. She smiled and shook her head. “It’s nothing, Little Leaf.” She put back the headphones which had fallen around the boy’s shoulders back on his head – just in time to hear a loud yell coming from them.

Ye Xiu snapped his head back to his screen and saw that a number of players were running right towards their little group. And they didn’t look friendly either.

“Hurry and run! You guys run first. I’ll hold them off!” He urged while swiftly controlling Lord Grim to jump and use a Falling Light Blade.

“Wah! So quick!”

“Somebody record him! I have a good feeling! This will make the Three Great Guilds shed tears of blood!”

“Hahaha! I can’t wait to tell my friends THE Lord Grim plays in the same internet café as I do!”

Despite all the noise behind him, Ye Xiu didn’t pay them any attention. His entire focus was on grabbing the Blood Rifle and getting the hell out of there. Oh, speaking of which…

“Save me the Blood Rifle. You guys can have the rest!” He typed out quickly in the group chat then used a Circle Swing to throw the battle mage that had been bugging him for a while now, to the ground. He chained with an Eagle Stamp to stomp on him like one would stomp on a cockroach.

“If you keep chasing, then I won’t be so nice anymore!” he growled darkly, already at the end of his rope. He was so done with these guys. They were seriously challenging his already testy patience. The wild BOSS was dead already! He’d appreciate it if they could leave him alone now, thank you very much!

“Ooooooh! The little one is feisty!”

The voice came to his left, prompting Ye Xiu to lift his head to look around him. He realised the group of people around him had yet to disperse. Quite a few of them had their phones out, presumably to record him, the tenth server so-called ‘Star’ in action. Ye Xiu made a mental note to choose a quieter station next time. Preferably on the second floor.

“Umm…” he trailed off, directing an expectant look at Chen Guo who was among the crowd. Taking the cue, the boss straightened and shooed everyone away. Some of them cheerfully ruffled Ye Xiu’s red locks on their way, instantly becoming the targets of the boy’s glares.

Off to the side, Chen Guo couldn’t resist anymore. She whipped out her phone and deftly snapped a picture. The angry pout combined with the annoyed frown was just too adorable! After making sure the picture was not blurry or anything, she turned her eyes back towards her ‘charge’, but he was already neck deep into his game again. Smiling fondly, she decided to leave him alone for now and to check on Tang Rou instead. It was almost 11pm anyway.

At the start of his shift, Ye Xiu logged back in-game and immediately directed Lord Grim towards the nearest safe town. Once there, he opened the equipment editing interface. A flood of memories instantly came crashing onto him – the hardships, the breakthroughs, the satisfactions, the joy, the pain… the tears. It was as if all the walls he had carefully built around this particular memory over the years, came crumbling down before the very thing that linked their hopes together. How many sleepless nights have they spent researching for this particular weapon? Too many. Way too many for it to all end here.

“Don’t worry… I’ll upgrade you to the best of my ability. It’s a new start, indeed.” The whisper came as a loving caress, tenderly recalling the simpler times of the past and longing for the bright future it promises.

It was a challenge to block out all the other memories threatening to resurface, but he managed to rein them in, if just barely. Ye Xiu focused all his attention to the intricate work in from of him to keep himself grounded. When he was satisfied with his work, Ye Xiu saved the changes and immediately closed the editor to check out his handiwork.

He can't say he is disappointed, really. The upgrade went as planned. After tweaking with the different forms a few more times, Ye Xiu opened Lord Grim's skill list and distributed skill points as he deemed fit. Now, all what was left was to test out the upgrade in real combat. Ye Xiu smirked. Time to find some sacrificial lambs.

Soundlessly, a packet of pocky and a cup of tea were gently placed next to his keyboard. Ye Xiu looked up to see Tang Rou peeking at his screen curiously. He still had his skill interface opened.

"Learning new skills? I learned Sky Strike and Dragon Tooth today," she said upon seeing what he was doing.

Ye Xiu nodded. "Those two skills are useful. Try to learn how they work first before deciding where to input your skill points. Priority should be given to the skills you favour the most," he lectured, taking full advantage of the occasion to teach her. Teaching Tang Rou was a world of difference from teaching a certain brawler.

The girl didn't reply right away. There was something unsettling about the way she was suddenly staring at him. Those uncannily perceptive eyes seemed to be peering into his very soul. "You seem very knowledgeable for someone so young."

"Haha. I've been playing for quite a while," he dodged, diverting his attention from those piercing eyes to Lord Grim. He controlled him to walk towards the town's exit.

"How long?"

"Ten – " he stopped mid-sentence. He was about to say ten years but realistically, with this current body, ten years ago, he would have been 6 or 7 – 8, if he really, really pushed it – and way too young to be playing such games already. With how sharp Tang Rou was, she wouldn't really believe it. So, what could he say instead? Ten months? Ten weeks?

"Ten months?" She prodded since he was taking too long to answer.

In the end, he settled for the safest answer. "I've been playing since I was 15."

Tang Rou stayed silent for a long moment, processing the new pieces of information in her head. Ye Xiu was beginning to feel nervous under her heavy scrutiny and was alarmed when he caught himself subconsciously fidgeting in his seat. He sighed. Not only was his old temper slowing rearing its ugly head again, but now, it seemed this reversal of his body's age has also reinstated quite a few bad habits that he had long suppressed.

When she finally replied, Ye Xiu sadly noted that he was on the verge of breaking into a cold sweat.

"You are not really 18, are you?"

Ye Xiu didn't know how to reply to that, but he realised he didn't need to reply at all.

His silence was a loud enough answer.

Tang Rou seemed to understand all the same. "I see. Don't worry, I won't tell GuoGuo you are underaged."

You understood it all wrong! Ye Xiu didn't know if he wanted to laugh or cry, but in any case, he now knew he could count on Tang Rou to keep a secret or two.

"I'm going to go to bed now, Little Leaf. Be alert, okay? If there's anything wrong, come get us. GuoGuo and I never lock our doors. Understood?"

Ye Xiu stared. What was with these girls babying him all the time? First Mucheng, then Chen Guo and now, Tang Rou too? Mucheng he could understand but the others...

He sighed. Maybe it was the rounded cheeks that he still had.

He nodded to her numbly.

Yeah, that must be it.

After exchanging goodnights, Ye Xiu returned to the game, but a sudden whiff of the green tea beside him had him going down memory lane yet again. After all, his habit of pulling all-nighters stemmed from long ago – from when he used to share a meal made for two among three people; from when he had tried to keep his mind busy from thinking about how the club he had shed his blood and tears building, was slowing crumbling in on itself. And all throughout those nights, he had always had a cup of green tea to accompany him, together with a bedful of auburn haired girl sleeping quietly behind him.

He suddenly felt very lonely.

Looking up, he saw that the café barely had 10 customers. It was slightly depressing, now that he thought about it. Here he was, on his own, de-aged and with no concrete plans in mind other than levelling Lord Grim, and longing for a way that he has yet to find, to join the Alliance again.

Giving in to a rare moment of weakness, he opened up his new QQ account.

 

 

Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
mucheng, i hope you are not giving them too much of a hard time

He was pleasantly surprised when a reply came in barely a second later.

 

 

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
what's this? you are more worried about their wellbeing than mine?
you wound me little leaf :'(
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
stop with that name please
also, we both know you are the real menace here. not them :)
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
i'll take that as a compliment :)
but no. i haven't been dealing with them more than what is strictly necessary. so i'm good \o/
i've been busy anyway
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
with the apartments?
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
among other things, yes :)
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
...
... why am i having a bad feeling about this...
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
D:
have more faith in me little leaf!
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
...

While he was chatting with Su Mucheng, Ye Xiu was unaware of the unknown avatar hurriedly logging out to furiously type away in all the forums he had access to.

He was just a normal player passing through when he had suddenly caught sight of the famously unsightly dressing disaster that was Lord Grim. The normal player was frightened at first, having heard tale after tale of the prowess of this particular avatar before him. Who didn't know that the Three Great Guilds were after his blood after the wild BOSS fiasco? He had originally planned to backtrack and tiptoe his way to safety when his keen ears picked up on a particularly interesting conversation.

He had felt a bit bolder since Lord Grim hadn't seemed to have noticed him nor seemed to be moving. Yet, he was chatting to the air. He had drawn a little closer, hiding behind some rocks to be in better hearing range. He had quickly deduced that Lord Grim was having a conversation in real life but had forgotten to switch off his mic. Or it could be that he simply hadn't bothered to switch it off. Who in their right mind would even dare to come within a 100 feet radius of him anyway.

And my, what an interesting conversation it was turning out to be, indeed!

What? What was this? Lord Grim has only been playing for 10 months? And he (or was he actually a she? The player was extremely confused by the androgynous voice. The second voice was more distant but was distinctly female yet Lord Grim's was a mystery) was 15 or 16 years old but pretending to be 18? Oh my!! Wait till everybody learns that the famous terrorist of the tenth server is actually a kid!

All hell was about to break loose from one single idiot's brilliant idea.

 

Chapter Text

Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General -> Lord Grim Reveal!!!

1st Floor — HatefulMinion

They’re just a kid! Not even 18, but 15-16!

Heavens, what’s wrong with this world when a kid who’s been playing for ten months is this much of a terror

2nd Floor — RainyTrouble

Sofa!

3rd Floor — WhisperingLight

Second Kill!

4th Floor — WhisperingLight

Wait what? Really? A kid?!?!?!

5th Floor — Nightshade

Which training camp? Someone this sensational should’ve been scouted already

6th Floor — CryingDemoness

Third Kill!

Huh, anyone know what class he’s even playing? Those screenshots of him make me cringe

7th Floor — ImmersedJade

Great god is...Little Great God?

The other senior brothers said Unspecialised!

╮( ̄ω ̄;)╭
…Whatever that is. Little great god can use, like, all the class skills!

......

69th Floor — SoaringSky

https://weibo.com/u/5477535323/

Seems like this is their weibo? Or one dedicated to him? I mean, who else will use Lord Grim as a username

70th Floor — CrimsonStaff

OMG SO CUTE

But wait

Is that a boy or girl

Look at those cheekbones and that hair

I’m so jealous

Wtf

What is this

71st Floor — BlossomDream

Can’t see an adam’s apple

But can’t really see the neck either

Dunno, anyone have a recording of their voice?

72nd Floor — InvincibleBeauty

Did you check out the videos on the weibo?

I did see a few, but don’t know which voice is theirs

Yo, @ImmersedJade, get back on here and identify the kid

73rd Floor — DaoistAutumn

Did no one record any gameplay?

Didn’t the guy just appear on TV with Blue Brook?

Blue brook peeps, where you at

74th Floor — ImmersedJade

!!!!!!! I need to follow little great god!

Ah...I don’t think they talked in the video, you can recognise their voice anywhere

It’s so sweet! Like like like… omg if little great god posts song covers, I will die

Literally

Just a recording of little great god talking ahhhhhhh

I can listen to it forever

 

 

「Lord Grim is now online.」
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Have you checked the forums?
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
No?
Why? You know I don’t bother with that stuff.
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
https://forum.glory.com/tenth-server/general/lord-grim-reveal/
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
......
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
???
Also, I’m following your weibo now!
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
......
「Lord Grim is now offline.」

Sticking out her tongue in amusement, Su Mucheng switched chats upon seeing Ye Xiu run away. Now, time to check up on this investment of hers.

 

 

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
https://weibo.com/u/5477535323/
https://forum.glory.com/tenth-server/general/lord-grim-reveal/
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’ll send him over immediately
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’ll see you soon then!
Happy Internet Cafe, right across and down the street from Excellent Era
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Why am I not surprised
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
hehe

Hmm… Su Mucheng contemplated. Should I give Brother Xiu any warning? Nah~

With that, Su Mucheng minimised QQ and started Glory on her desktop. She had to quickly level up this new account, after all.


 “Boss…” Ye Xiu began as he skimmed through the weibo she set up. Orange V status already? (1)

Chen Guo wandered over from the back room at his call. “Oh? What’s the matter, Little Leaf? Ah! I see you found your weibo page.”

“They think I’m a girl,” Ye Xiu deadpanned, opening up the forum page as well to show her the consequences of her fun.

 "They think I'm a girl" - YX

“Well, you are cute, cuter than any girl I’ve ever met,” Tang Rou teased from beside him, though her eyes had yet to move from her monitor.

Ye Xiu turned his head to glare at her before going back to fending off a barrage of questions and requests from Blue River. Honestly, did the guy expect him to stay in Blue Brook? All he wanted was materials! Tyrannical Ambition had the fastest feet, so they climbed first. (2)

“They do?!” Chen Guo peered over Ye Xiu’s shoulder to skim through the forum. “Well, they aren’t wrong about your voice, Little Leaf.”

Sighing, Ye Xiu exited both pages and maximised Glory’s window again. “I just want to play Glory,” he said, a slight whine to his voice. Maybe he was more emotional and childish with this younger body, but nothing had changed! To him, Glory would always be number one.

“Alright, alright, you go back to your game. Do you care if they speculate like that?” Chen Guo comforted him. She took out her phone, waiting for his response. If he truly objected to the social media page she had set up in his name, she was willing to delete it all. The fact that she didn't want to miss an opportune photo moment had nothing to do with her pulling out her phone, nothing at all.

“No, not like they matter. Just let me play. Do whatever you want.” When he wandered over to Frost Forest to party up with Seven Fields and the others, Ye Xiu immediately groaned.

“Why you?” Where was Sleeping Moon? He checked his friend list and saw that Little Moon was offline.

The noob Steamed Bun Invasion bounded over and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Beansprout!!! It's me! You can call me Big Bro Steamed Bun! These other big bros are giving me pointers."

“Yea...uh...sure. And stop calling me beansprout!” Ye Xiu began, exploding in a brief burst of irritation once the nickname registered. Even if this noob had quick handspeed, his personality was aggravating beyond belief.

"Sleeping Moon had been playing all day, so he went offline to rest. Immersed Jade wasn't able to pull another all-nighter and join us," Seven Fields explained quickly, not wanting to set off brother expert's seemingly short fuse.

“Oh, tomorrow I can't be online either,” Sunset Clouds regretfully said. Missing a night of playing with a great god like Lord Grim? He cursed inwardly at his misfortune.

“And you, brother expert?” Seven Fields seised the opportunity to learn more about this great god they were able to befriend. From these past three days, he had concluded that this brother expert played all night, every day.

“I’ll still be playing during the night.” Ye Xiu laughed, his voice ringing throughout the cafe as well. He steadily ignored the triumph shout of ‘I recorded it in time!’ from behind him. He didn’t look like he used to, so it was fine if his face was public to some extent. Though, was his voice that easily mistakable?

Ye Xiu found the time and patience to mentor Steamed Bun Invasion during the dungeon runs, somehow. Dealing with this guy required the patient of a true saint, not a fake one like Huang Shaotian. At least the nickname got switched to Little Lord, Ye Xiu consoled himself. Anything was better than ‘beansprout’ of all things. That was Ye Qiu’s childhood nickname! Not his!

As if recalling something, Seven Fields asked, “Brother expert, are we going to kill the Goblin Merchant?” After their success with stealing Blood Gunner Yagg, this group had become intoxicated with the allure of thrill and victory.

“Ah, sorry,” Ye Xiu apologised. "Tyrannical Ambition already asked me to help them!" This instantly brought up Seven Fields and the others’ guards. Tyrannical Ambition? Didn’t that mean Endless Night had dug his dirty claws into their brother expert? No! How could this be?!

“Tyrannical Ambition?” Seven Fields probed, desperation slightly lacing his voice. “You’re not going to join them, are you?”

“Nope!”

Thank the heavens! the motley group of players from the Full Moon guild thought. We need to be more careful and protect brother expert from these vultures!

“Then?”

“They simply hired me to help kill the Goblin Merchant,” Ye Xiu clarified even as he blasted another mob into the wall, the game instantly playing a death animation to signal his critical strike.

“You were hired?” Seven Fields and the others asked, shocked. The Three Great Guilds actually hired brother expert? Were they scouting brother expert for the pro scene, and since brother expert refused to stay loyal to a single guild, they had to entice him this way?

As they neared the end of the dungeon, Ye Xiu received a message, from Endless Night.

“The Goblin Merchant spawned!!”

Ye Xiu shouted out a quick correction to Steamed Bun Invasion before sending Endless Night a reply. “I’m in the middle of a dungeon!”

“Same, so is everyone else. Let’s get in touch after we come out!” Endless Night said. Since it was just after midnight, the majority of the Level 20 and up players were clearing dungeons. No one knew who exactly discovered the Goblin Merchant, but with so many people online at this time, competition for the wild boss was fierce. All those currently dungeoning increased their pace, Ye Xiu as well.

“Let's up the pace. The Goblin Merchant just appeared, so I'm in a rush." Ye Xiu stopped playing leisurely to train the others and blitzed through the dungeon. After a total of twenty-eight minutes, they left Frost Thrain behind them, with Ye Xiu immediately having Lord Grim rush over as fast as he could to the coordinates Endless Night sent him.

“I see you.” Ye Xiu swiveled the camera around and spotted Endless Night, who sent an invite over a moment later. Ye Xiu inwardly grimaced upon connecting to voice with the party after the welcoming ceremony ended, still remembering the controversy surrounding his gender—all because his voice had yet to deepen.

He gritted his teeth when he realised that Endless Night and Cold Night were trying to teach him, him—the Glory Textbook— on the finer details of stealing a wild boss. Taking in a deep breath, he calmed himself down enough to politely demand a full DPS party to lead...and to take out his irritation by steamrolling over Cold Night with his superior knowledge of Glory.

“Little Leaf,” Chen Guo called out, followed by a quiet chink as she set down a cup of warm green tea. “Here. Oh, are you killing the Goblin Merchant? Let me grab my phone!” She dashed off, and silence filled the voice chat for a few moments.

“A-hem, I was saying...” Ye Xiu went back to ordering the guild leader of Tyrannical Ambition around, ignoring the fact that everyone in the party had heard Chen Guo.

Before long, Goblin Merchant came into view, with all of them dodging the sea of fire that erupted due to a thrown Molotov Cocktail. The flash of sword light that streaked across the dusky forest, sending the Goblin crashing down to the ground, drew Ye Xiu’s attention. Who sent that?

Blinking, Ye Xiu tilted his head as he observed the player emerging from behind the tree: Blue River. Even as his mind split up and began formulating a dozen plans, he maneuvered Lord Grim forward to steal away the wild boss’ aggro.

The crowd behind Ye Xiu’s chair grew, all of the customers craning for a look at Ye Xiu’s monitor.

“Boss, is this being recorded?” one of them asked, but Chen Guo shook her head. How could she have known that Ye Xiu would be fighting the Goblin Merchant that night?

“I’ve got it!” someone else called out from across the room, causing the crowd to split in half. This customer was in Excellent Dynasty and had shown up to kill the Goblin Merchant, though it seemed like Blue Brook and Lord Grim were the only ones currently grappling for the wild boss. When this customer saw a character that looked as if a rainbow vomited on him, he instantly began recording. That kid’s skill was unimaginable for one so young. He needed to send the recording to Chen Yehui and see if Lord Grim can be recruited for Excellent Era’s training camp. The contribution he would gain if he had a hand in the kid’s recruitment would be tremendous.

Of course, this Excellent Dynasty player wasn’t the only one with thoughts like this. Blue River had already forwarded the idea to Changing Spring, and Cold Night was recording the entire endeavor with the Goblin Merchant in order to forward it to Wandering Peak and the vice-captain. Who knew what was going on within Herb Garden, but they weren’t that far behind on recruitment from the tenth server.

“No way! What is the kid doing?”

“They’re splitting up?”

“What? Is he tempting fate?”

The moment Ye Xiu commanded Tyrannical Ambition to scatter, shouts rang out throughout the internet cafe. What was this playstyle? Guerrilla warfare?

Chatter continued filling up the cafe, but by now, all those not currently able to follow the battle royale for the Goblin Merchant in-game were now hovering behind those that were able to. Chen Guo was having the time of her life recording Ye Xiu. She would have livestreamed it, but she remembered that to do so would be to give his opponents an eye in the enemy camp. She would just post it afterward on bilibili (3) and then forward it on Weibo, no big deal.

“Damn, did the kid really think up this strategy? Deliberate OT?” Little Ming commented, standing next to Chen Guo. He had just come in to the cafe and thus had missed the opportunity to join in on the tenth server chaos.

“Mn, he did,” Chen Guo said, her hands steadily filming Ye Xiu all the while. “Hahahaha, the Goblin Merchant attacked everyone but Little Leaf! Wonderful! You can do it, Little Leaf! Just a bit more!”

Hearing her cheers, Ye Xiu threw out, “What will I get if I emerge victorious, boss?”

“You little rascal!” Chen Guo smiled, amused. “How about some more pocky?”

“Fine, fine. Oh, Blue Brook gave up. One down...eh, several more to go.” Ye Xiu went back to directing Tyrannical Ambition. When he saw Herb Garden give up five minutes later, his smile grew, small dimples appearing on his cheeks.

Snap! Snap! Snap!

“Ah~ he’s so cute!” Chen Guo squealed quietly. She might need to edit this video before posting, but she just couldn’t resist shifting the camera from the screen to capture the adorable smile on Ye Xiu’s face.

With two of the Three Great Guilds giving up, and the third monopolising the Goblin Merchant, the other skilled guilds ultimately concluded that continuing this farce was a useless endeavor and simply conceded this wild boss to Tyrannical Ambition. This was just one of many bosses, after all.

System Announcement : Tyrannical Ambition has completed the Goblin Merchant’s first kill!

Which meant Lord Grim had to have left the party before the last blow was struck, all to keep Tyrannical Ambition pure and thus the sole credited victors. Even then, all of the experts in the tenth server knew that this success was only possible due to Lord Grim.

Not even an hour later, Lord Grim became the trending topic in the Glory Forums once again, links to recordings spreading like wildfire.

 

Chapter Text

“Captain captain captain! Did you call for me? A Xuan said you called for me!” Huang Shaotian’s voice preceded his arrival into the room, calling out to Yu Wenzhou before the door had even opened. “God, captain, why are you sitting in the dark? This isn’t good for your eyes. Oh hi, Old Liang.”

The lights flickered on, causing Yu Wenzhou to squint for a moment against the brightness. “Shaotian…”

“Yes, captain? What’s wrong? Are you alright? What are you watching?” Huang Shaotian’s tone started out worried but quickly turned curious as he came over, peeking over Yu Wenzhou’s head at his screen and draping himself over the back of Yu Wenzhou’s seat. “What’s this? What’s this?”

Yu Wenzhou smiled, glancing up at him for a moment before nodding at Liang Yichun, who stood nearby a little awkwardly. “Liang Yichun gave me this recording, said there was a person they found in game that we should check out. What do you think?”

Huang Shaotian blinked, uncharacteristically silent for a moment. The video playing on his captain’s screen was clearly shot from a mobile phone. It wasn’t a proper in-game recording or anything like that. The shot was a little unsteady and switched from the screen to the player sitting in front of the screen several times. The young face was intently focused on the game, hands flying across the keyboard.

“… Shaotian?” Yu Wenzhou began to feel concerned after Huang Shaotian had maintained his silence for a full ten seconds.

Eventually, Huang Shaotian opened his mouth to speak again, “His hands are really pretty. They seem kinda familiar?”

“Her hands*?” Yu Wenzhou frowned a little and paused the video. “I was talking about her skills, Shaotian.”

“O-oh right, yeah, well… uh, he’s fast?” Clearly, Huang Shaotian had been paying too much attention to how the other’s hands looked and not his actual skill.

Yu Wenzhou wasn’t sure how to react to that for a moment and paused to formulate a response. “She’s not just fast. She’s extremely skilled. Did you notice what class she was playing?”

Huang Shaotian quickly focused himself, shaking the image of that person’s hands from his head. “He used a few Battle Mage skills in the beginning, and then Gunner and Fighter as well… He can’t be playing Unspecialized, can he? Damn, what? That’s not possible! I’ve never heard of someone playing Unspecialized. How did he switch between different skills so fast? Where’s the lag with changing weapons?”

Yu Wenzhou clicked open a different video. “Look.” This time, the video was of Frost Forest, focused on a character that looked like he had been vomited on by a rainbow. Huang Shaotian was about comment on that, when the weapon in his hand – an umbrella? – suddenly transformed into a gun, shooting wildly at the mobs around him. Then it became a spear. Dragon Tooth! Sky Strike! Circle Swing!

“Fuck! What the fuck?” Huang Shaotian pushed off the back of Yu Wenzhou’s seat to crowd over and get a better look. “Are you seeing this, captain? How is his weapon doing that? That’s so weird. Have you seen anything like this before, captain? That can’t be any normal weapon from the game. Whoa… does this kid have a Silver Weapon??? Captain, say something!”

I would, if you had let me… Yu Wenzhou thought to himself. But he was Yu Wenzhou and he was used to this already, so he just smiled and said, “I believe so. A silver weapon specially tailored for the Unspecialized class. According to what Liang Yichun told me, this child is only 15 years old and has been playing Glory for a mere ten months.”

Huang Shaotian fell silent for a moment and then –

“Old Liang!!! Old Liang Old Liang, get me an account, tenth server, Blade Master, I’m gonna go PK with – no, I mean, gauge this Lord Grim’s skill!”


“Ye Xiu!” Ye Xiu looked up from his screen to see Chen Guo with a strange look on her face. Suspicion? Mistrust? Something like that. “There’s a guy who says he’s here for you. Do you know him?” She jabbed her thumb behind her.

Ye Xiu followed her thumb to a man who looked to be in his early thirties. He was dressed casually, his clothing accentuating his well built physique, face clean and well-groomed. He blinked, and the man blinked at him, too. Then their faces both twisted in shock.

“Holy crap, I thought Su- Mumu was pulling my leg!”

“What on earth are you doing here, old man?”

The older man gave him an unamused look. “We heard from Mumu about what had happened.”

“Oh, right, this,” Ye Xiu waved a hand nonchalantly, and then his eyes lit up. If Fang Shijing was free enough to come all the way over and check up on him… then he was free labor, right? And he was Free Class player, if Ye Xiu recalled correctly. Golden Substitute of Blue Rain, able to play any class to a pro level and even mimic playstyles, if need be. “Oh hey, this is perfect. Boss, can you get him a computer? Do you have a tenth server account? I need you to help me break a record.” Then he paused and said, sounding half-worried half-disdainful, “Fang Shijing, your skills haven’t deteriorated too much since you got old, right?”

Fang Shijing didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. “No, why would I have a tenth server account?”

Ye Xiu looked at him with horror and betrayal, pocky almost falling out of his mouth.

“… I’ve been playing in the North American server…” Fang Shijing then added.

“Oh good. Go get a level 20 tenth server account. Some DPS class.”

“…”

“Please?”


Chen Guo was more than happy to help Ye Xiu kick Fang Shijing out to get an account card, still thinking of him as a suspicious old man. She wasn’t sure who he was – maybe that deadbeat father of Ye Xiu’s? Wait, no, Ye Xiu’s older brother was too old for that man to be their father.

Meanwhile, Ye Xiu had promised Tyrannical Ambition the record for Frost Forest for a hefty price, but told them to wait because he had a helper coming.

Yet, after fifteen or so minutes, as he was grinding in a different dungeon, a system announcement popped up, saying that Excellent Era had cleared Frost Forest with a new record of 13:24:21, over a full minute less than the previous all-time record across all servers.

“It’s almost the limit,” Ye Xiu commented to Cold Night and Endless Night, “Definitely pro players who broke the record. Good thing I said to wait for my helper. You guys might be enough for a normal record, but this one…” QQ suddenly popped up with a message from Su Mucheng, saying that she would be joining them soon. “Actually… I was going to tell you to wait until I got to level 25, but I don’t think there’s a need anymore. Just give me a…”

“Lord Grim!!!” A loud voice interrupted them. “Lord Grim Lord Grim, I finally found you! Let’s PKPKPKPK!”

Ye Xiu looked over in surprise. The voice was familiar and came from a Blade Master, level 20, with the name Flowing Tree.

Ye Xiu sweatdropped. Huang Shaotian? That was Huang Shaotian, right? What was he doing here? How did he find him?

“No.” Ye Xiu immediately replied and turned away to continue his conversation with Endless Night and Cold Night. “Anyways, as I was saying…”

But was Huang Shaotian that easy to dismiss? Of course not.

“What do you mean, no??!! This Sword- I mean, I came all the way here to find you to PK and you just dismiss me like that??? Do you know who I am?”

“Yes, you’re Huang Shao-“

“NO, I'M NOT!!!”

“Who else is talkative and obsessed with PKing.”

“SSSHHHH, DON’T EXPOSE ME!”

“…”

“If you know who I am then PKPKPKPK with me! Don’t you know how rare such an opportunity is???”

“Shut up! Fuck off already!” Cold Night, already anxious about this entire situation and slightly downcast at what Lord Grim had implied about their skills, snapped. “Who the hell are you anyways?”

“What?! How dare you talk to me like that you-“

“Actually!” Ye Xiu interrupted them. “He might just be useful to us,” he told Cold Night quietly before turning to Huang Shaotian. “I can PK with you, but you have to help me clear this dungeon first.”

“What? I’m not gonna-“ Huang Shaotian paused, as if listening to someone on the other end. Probably Yu Wenzhou. “Alright fine, I’ll help you clear your dungeon.”

“You have to join Tyrannical Ambition first, and wait for my other helper,” Ye Xiu said.

“What?!” Two indignant voices rose.

“I’m not going to help Tyrannical Ambition break a dungeon record!”

“Are you sure he’s skilled enough?” Endless Night asked in doubt.

“Hey, how dare you doubt my skill!” Huang Shaotian immediately objected.

“Well, if you really don’t think you’re skilled enough to break a measly record…” Ye Xiu trailed off.

“I’ll show you! Lemme into your guild!”

“Let him in, he’ll be useful,” Ye Xiu assured the doubtful Endless Night and Cold Night. “Oh, and I also need to borrow a bunch of level 20 orange equipment. A set for a Blade Master and a Launcher, as well as another set. But I’m not sure what class my other helper is going to pick. Also, give me your best DPSer.”


Two hours later, Fang Shijing sat in front of a computer next to Ye Xiu, not really sure how he got there. It was some combination of puppy eyes and mockery, but he knew that he ended up here, getting his Striker, Titanic, to Frost Forest.

I come all the way here from America to make sure you’re alright, and this is how you treat me??? Fang Shijing cried in his heart.

When he got there, he found Lord Grim, a Blade Master called Flowing Tree, a Launcher called Cleansing Mist, and a Elementalist called Crowd Lover.

“Finally!!!” The Blade Master exclaimed in a very familiar voice. “I thought you would never arrive. Now hurry up and let’s go break that record so we can PKPKPKPK!”

What the??? Was that… Huang Shaotian?

What kind of record were they breaking???

Chapter Text

Unspecialised, Lord Grim.

 

Launcher, Cleansing Mist.

 

Blade Master, Flowing Tree

 

Striker, Titanic

 

Elementalist, Crowd Lover.

 

“This might be troublesome,” Crowd Lover opened with this speech. “A full DPS team, and no Witch in sight.”

 

Frost Forest monsters were green-skinned blue-nosed Goblins. They all looked the same, and it was only when they attacked that the unprepared would realise that the goblins ran a gamut of classes and positions. The Witch skill Doll Shururu, however, would have made crowd control much easier had anyone in this team actually bothered to put some skill points into it. But what could they do? They were already in the dungeon, it was not worth wasting one entry just to wash skill points clean.

 

“We got to make do,” Ye Xiu tutted as he examined the party stats and makeup. “No room for error. I’ll be MT, the rest of you deal damage.”

 

“Oi, why’re you running this tiny dungeon again, come to the Arena with me!!!”

 

“The sooner we clean this up, the faster we can all do our own stuff,” Ye Xiu blatantly ignored Flowing Tree to whisper to Fang Shijing’s Titanic.

 

“Huang…”

 

“Better not say anything, Golden Substitute.”

 

“Fuck, at least someone wants me! Unlike you, you still have a body of complete jade, old or young doesn’t matter.”

 

“Don’t you know? Jade only gets better with age wearing it down in the correct way by the correct person.”

 

“You aren’t even old enough to meet Madam Palm and her five sisters!”

 

“...ah?”

 

“Haha!” Titanic started to prance about. “Finally, I won in mouthing off against-!”

 

“Please, could you not throw words around?” Huang Shaotian finally could not take being ignored anymore. “A Striker like you should be talking with his fists, not his palms! Did you think you’re playing a Qi Master, or you’re drowning in a boiling pot?”

 

“You stepped into the boiling pot yourself once, you of all people have no right to say that,” was fired at his direction.

 

Flowing Tree shut up.

 

Ye Xiu quickly typed: “That’s Huang Shaotian! Behind him is Yu Wenzhou! Do you want them to realise?!”

 

“Precisely,” At a keyboard in real life, Fang Shijing chuckled. “Who do you think captained these two before? Old Wei doesn’t count, the two brats did a complete change from the old rut after Old Wei left. Against Huang Shao, it’s a matter of grinding at him, but Yu Wenzhou… when he’s caught off-guard, he’s really off-guard.”

 

I think, I just heard something amazing about how Yu Wenzhou came to be … was Ye Xiu’s thought.

 

“...oh,” Ye Xiu said at last. “‘There is only what you cannot imagine, not what I cannot do’. Play dirty?”

 

“En.” Knuckles cracked. “Let’s get these two to stew in their own brains then. Lucky I was still defaming that old guy in the North American server.”

 

“Damn, do you have that much of a grudge against him?”

 

“He left the team behind with two brats? Damn well I do.”



“How wretched!”

 

That was the fifth time which Crowd Lover and Flowing Tree were exclaiming in their steamroll through Frost Forest. Lord Grim was performing out of expectations - rather, there were no expectations now that the Striker, Titanic, was playing dirty.

 

The Striker had just executed a Back Throw to break the final BOSS’s Super Armor, right into Lord Grim’s Sky Strike. Frost Thain was engulfed in Raging Flames, and the Launcher Cleansing Mist switched from hand-cannon to revolver pistol. The low-level Floating Bullet employed next was a Spitfire skill, but learnable by all in the Gunner super-class. As Frost Thain kept floating, having exhausted all his Teleports, an Eagle Stamp was employed right into the frost goblin’s head.

 

“Striker, (36, 58).”

 

The Striker then knelt down at that position. “Oi, shitty Elementalist, Falling Flower Palm full-charge, five o’clock!”

 

In the instant that Frost Thain teleported, the Goblin Emperor ended up right in front of a Front Kick which knocked the BOSS back into the Myriad Manifestation Umbrella lance’s Circle Swing. Circle Swing threw the BOSS into the path of the Falling Flower Palm, which whacked Frost Thain into the Launcher’s Swing.

 

Is this baseball? This is baseball, right?! How is this fighting a BOSS?!

 

The knock-up effect took hold, suspending Frost Thain in the air for a final Falling Light Blade to finish it off.

 

System Announcement: Players Lord Grim, Cleansing Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Crowd Lover have set a new time record for the Frost Forest dungeon: 12: 50:21.

 

“That’s about the limit,” Ye Xiu sighed in satisfaction. “How’d you know that the Elementalist has Falling Flower Palm?”

 

“Isn’t that obvious? Elementalists have short legs, and a Cloth-armor class which doesn’t learn some other skill to defend himself is toast. It’s not like we were expecting him to chuck out a Shadow Cloak, which is totally useless in close-combat. Which is why shitty brats like you should have paid attention to your timing,” Fang Shijing spoke even louder then as Flowing Tree’s character came closer.

 

“Show you something.” Fang Shijing chuckled, and turned his Striker, Titanic, about.

 

“Boss Wei!” Huang Shaotian was yelling in the game, which implied that he was speaking in real life as well. “Boss Wei Boss Wei Boss Wei look at me look at me look at me! When’d you come back into the game!”

 

Faraway in Xi’an, a careworn older man sneezed. “Who’s cursing this senior behind my back… oi, idiot, watch out for the Swamp Hunter!”

 

Flowing Tree stopped moving for a moment. Within the confines of the Frost Forest, at the very end of the dungeon, not a single goblin or monster was around. The forest itself glittered as snowflakes fell like diamond dust, very unlike the simulated weather effects in Glory which had an effect in combat. The Blade Master’s system-generated face was still blank, but the voice which issued next was enough to cause goosebumps to crawl up the back of Ye Xiu’s palms.

 

Captain .”

 

Laughing, Fang Shijing pulled off his earphones and dragged Titanic’s card out of the card-reader, force-logging off. “OK. He’s on the hook.”

 

“You’ve been playing wretched enough for normal people to be unable to bear looking at you,” Ye Xiu rolled his eyes. “Most pros would think Fang Rui.”

 

“Fang Rui? How can the ‘master of playing dirty’ compare to a textbook-level like you?” Fang Shijing tutted. “If Old Wei saw you, he’d most likely think you’ve somehow turned back time on yourself just to curse the Glory circles once more in a rain of blood and slaughter.”

 

Ye Xiu checked the suddenly active chats. “I’m not as impressive as Old Wei. What’s he doing now anyway?”

 

“Still playing Glory. Which is why I was copying him on the NA server.” Fang Shijing’s lips thinned, his smile only slightly faded. “Looking at you, I promise that he’ll only be slightly jealous. It’s not as if the strongest BOSS in the history of Glory has the flesh of the Tang Monk.”

 

A distant echo of some past event came to him. “This…”

 

“Oh, right, Xuefeng’s friend called up about needing a pair of hands,” Fang Shijing snickered. “Her university project involved yours, if I recall correctly...”


 

At this moment, Plantago Seed’s field of view had a few players fighting wild monsters. However, Plantago Seed was too distracted.In real life, he was before his computer desk, controlling his character, as a god peered over his shoulder with uneven eyes.

 

Who knew that a random update to Arisaema would arouse the Magician.

 

“Wretched and crude, but unexpected,” Team Tiny Herb’s resident God Wang Jiexi muttered almost to himself. “Can be polished, I would imagine. Why a child would choose to play Unspecialized, though…”

 

“Then… we should recruit him?” Plantago Seed tentatively asked. “Blue Brook Guild and Tyrannical Ambition are already moving to bribe him or ingratiate themselves. We’re a bit behind here.”

 

“If he won’t drink a toast, then make him drink a forfeit,” Wang Jiexi lightly said.

 

“G- God, I don’t quite understand…”

 

“A child who has grown up with overwhelming talent is akin to a frog in a well,” Wang Jiexi explained. “Therefore, when presented with a challenge, and then a way to release those energies, don’t you think he would accept? If he capitulates to Tiny Herb, that is the best scenario. If he perseveres, nobody else can get him. And, in the worst-case scenario that he leaves, then your tenth server problem is solved.”

 

Listening to their captain casually plan to use wheel-tactics against a probable teenager should be terrifying, but Plantago Seed mulled it over. “And if he joins another guild?”

 

“Then we will meet him in the battlefield, and he will be an excellent training partner.”

 

“Erm, God… that assumes that the tenth server guild has people who can actually match Lord Grim… I don’t think any regular in the tenth server can really match up to him.” Plantago Seed lowered his eyes to the backlit keyboard over which his sweating hands were splayed.

 

Wang Jiexi thought for a moment, before he finally asked: “How many empty accounts do you have?”

 

 

Chapter Text

Ye Xiu stretched in his seat and sighed in satisfaction when he felt his bones pop into place.

"Hey old man," he called, glancing briefly at Fang Shijing who was similarly stretching out his limbs beside him, "are you hungry? I'm famished! Let's go eat! My treat!"

Fang Shijing turned dubious eyes to the red haired teenager. He wasn't very familiar with Ye Xiu yet, but from what he recalled when he was still in the pro circle, and also, from what he heard from people, Ye Xiu has a reputation to eat like a bird. It was very rare to catch the Glory Textbook eating more than two meals a day or even finishing his whole plate when he wasn't the one who scooped his food portions into his plate.

That was to say that he ate very little. He would even forego food to play Glory most of the time. So, for him to come forward and say he was famished? Fang Shijing looked at the time on his monitor. 6:38 AM. And they had had snacks at midnight... and cup noodles a little past 3 AM too.

On the side, Ye Xiu stretched one last time and mewled contentedly.

"Only have about 20 minutes more for my shift to be over then we can head over to McDonald's for breakfast!"

"Uh... Okay." Fang Shijing could only concede stupidly. Who was he to deny a hungry teenager of his food. But McDonald's though... "but do you have a kitchen or something here? I'll cook you something instead."

Ye Xiu blinked at him. "What's wrong with McDonalds?"

The older male’s lips pulled into a wolfish grin before he reached over to ruffle the red locks hair fondly. "Hmm, you're still a growing brat so you need better nutrients than that." Because let's not forget he’s supposed to be the responsible adult here.

Fang Shijing laughed at the face the teen was making. He was almost pouting. So cute.

Ye Xiu battered the offending hand away, mock-glaring at him. "Kitchen? We don't have a kitchen here, only the basic necessities like a sink and hot water dispenser in the back room," he explained, putting a finger to his chin in thought, "Boss provides takeout food and shelter so we have no use for a kitchen anyway.”

Ye Xiu blinked up curiously at him, as if suddenly reminded of something.

"Speaking of shelter, where are you staying at, now, old man?"

"Who are you calling an old man!" And Fang Shijing had Ye Xiu in a headlock in the blink of an eye, mercilessly ruffling the latter's hair while mock-strangulating him.

They made for a comical scene, really. One was really young and small while the other was built like a bodybuilder and dwarfing the younger in both size and height, yet had this pretty boy youthful face to him.

Fang Shijing was all soft and smooth curves in the face but hard and sharp edges in body.

"And for your information, because of a certain someone's shocking transformation, I didn't have the time to look for a proper apartment before jumping on the first flight to China. But don't worry, I booked a room for a few days at a nearby hotel." He said while releasing the hold he had on the boy.

Ye Xiu huffed. He fixed his glasses back into place but didn't respond to the rebuke. "Mucheng could help you with that. She's looking for an apartment herself."

"Yes, she proposed, but I don't really want to burden her further, what with everything going on with Excellent Era and all."

"Ah, yes..." Ye Xiu said, turning to look out the door where Excellent Era's building could be seen, a forlorn glint in his eyes.

Fang Shijing immediately felt awkward and guilty for bringing up the touchy topic.

He cleared his throat, bringing the teen's attention back to himself. "So, are you still up for breakfast? I'm getting hungry too."

As if on cue, Ye Xiu's stomach growled loudly.

Really, he should remember that teenage boys' worlds revolve only around food and sleep –

"Okay! But give me a sec to tell those people to notify me as soon as a new world BOSS spawns."

– but in this case, only around food and Glory apparently.

Because sleep was definitely not a priority to Ye Xiu.

 

 Chp15 YX - Legi

 


 

Glory forums -> Tenth Server -> General -> Lord Grim Strikes Again!!!

 

1st Floor - AquaticPeach

Fuck ppl!! Lord Grim is insane!! Have you seen that Frost Forest time?!?!?!?!

----->> 12:50:21 <<-----

 

2nd Floor - HurtingRainbow

Sofa!!

 

3rd Floor - IseeU

Che

Somebody needs to report him to the mods. He must be using some kind of bor or something!!

That's an impossible time how ever way you think about it!!!!!!

 

4th Floor - Kireeii

sofaaaaa

 

5th Floor - IseeU

bot* I mean bot**

 

6th Floor - Juuuuuump

Damn. I missed the first kill.

 

7th Floor - AquaticPeach

You mean to say he's not from a training camp???

I was thinking most of his party were trainees.

 

8th Floor - BloomBloom

lololol you think trainees have that much free time??

.

.

16th Floor - YouthfulFace

Seriously??

I mean I won't be surprised if he has a whole team powered by bots or something.

I mean, he is just a kid after all...

And a mischievous one at that...

 

17th Floor - PinkPetal

lololol

 

18th Floor - FrozenLizard

omg

were we admiring bots all along?????

 

19th Floor - PinkPetal

lololol did u c his umbrella?

if that didn't give him away i don't know what would

 

20th Floor - CraziMachine

omg... that explains that crazi weapon of his...

 

21th Floor - ExCalibur

What do you make of the Goblin Merchant recording though?

It clearly shows him playing!

 

22th Floor - MoeEyes

aaaahhhhhhhh~ she is so pretty!!

i'm sooooo jealous!!!

 

23th Floor - FishMawSoup

fact still remains she has an out-of-this-world bug weapon

 

24th Floor - CuriousRibbit

Ah~ I want a little sibling just like that!!

I'd cuddle him to oblivion!!

 

25th Floor - LanternBlue

ditto!!

 

26th Floor - CraziMachine

...

you guys are missing the point of this discussion...

 

27th Floor - BeautyInAshes

It's every girl's dream to have a neck like hers

 

28th Floor - CuriousRibbit

w h a t

he's clearly a boi

b o i

 

29th Floor - LiveToEat

^^^^^

 

30th Floor - BeautyInAshes

With eyelashes like these?

Please.

 

31th Floor - LakeWater

 i heard her talk

sounds like a girl to me

 

32th Floor - CryingDragon

Any chances his weapon could be a silver weapon?

 

33th Floor - BeautyInAshes

Ha!!

 

34th Floor - FishMawSoup

he acts like a guy tho

 

35th Floor - FrozenLizard

omg he's using a bot to generate silver weapons?????

.

.

44th FLoor - LordGrim4eva 

@ImmersedJade  Please tell me god is not using bots please!!!!!!! QwQ

 

45th Floor - BloodySwordsman

DIE YOU LORD GRIM FANS!!!

LORD GRIM IS SCUM!!!

DIDN'T YOU LEARN FROM SLEEPING MOON HOW HE DECEIVED THEM ALL!!!

THAT KID IS EVIL I TELL YOU!!!!!!

.

.

56th Floor - ImmersedJade

Umm... I'm new here but even I could tell he was just too good...

I'm not saying he's using a bot but... seeing him play makes you automatically call him "god"!

 

57th Floor - RockyMountain

I KNEW IT!! HE'S A HOAX!!!

 

58th - ImmersedJade

I did not say that...

 

59th Floor - LordGrim4eva

omg guys!!!!

there's a poll/bet on which team will snatch him up!!

--> link <--

 

60th Floor - Juuuuuump

OMG I VOTE FOR SAMSARA AAAAHHHHHH

XIAO ZHOU I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!

.

.

149th Floor - CheezeIsLife

Ok guys.

My friends and i made a group with some other players and we all collectively reported him.

Just needa wait for the mods to verify and reply now...

 

150th Floor - LovingMemories

Praise Be!!

 

151th Floor - BloodySwordsman

Praise Be!! +1

 

152th Floor - FlowingFlowers

Praise Be!! +2

 

153th Floor - IseeU

about damn time!!!

Praise Be!! +3

 

154th Floor - CryingJade

Praise Be!! +4

 

155th Floor - FrozenLizard

 Praise Be!! +5

 

Ye Qiu's eyebrow twitched. Seriously, what was his brother doing for him to get all this hate? He knew firsthand how infuriating Ye Xiu could be and he also knew his brother was quite a big shot in Glory, but for him to make the headlines of almost all top 10 Glory threads like this...  this was going overboard.

Ye Qiu shook his head and sighed. It was barely 10 AM and he was already feeling tired from his twin's shenanigans. What were they even accusing his brother of anyway? Bot? What bot? What even was a bot?

Clicking his tongue in annoyance, Ye Qiu stuffed his phone back in his pants' pocket. Stupid brother, making him worry like this... wait no, he's not worried! He's just... concerned for his well-being... like any sensible siblings should.

Frowning to himself, Ye Qiu stepped out of the store, clutching the newly purchased paper bag’s handles tightly. It was about damn time his wayward brother uses a phone, and he won't accept no for an answer.

He made his way over to the other side of the road and debated for quite a while in front of the next store he had in mind whether to go in or not.

He was hyper aware of how suspicious he looked, lurking in front of the store like this – peeking in then immediately backing away as if burned – for a solid 15 minutes now.

In the end, his pride won out. Because contrary to his idiot brother, there was no way in hell he would be caught dead in a gaming sh –

"Ye Qiu?"

Ye Qiu whirled around, alarmed that somebody has recognised him. And if anyone asked, Ye Qiu swore he did not just jump a foot in the air in fright. No, he was the incarnation of poise and elegance, just like his mother has taught him –

"My god! It really is you!"

– but the medium sized duffel bag flung to his chest proved him very wrong as he was nearly sent tumbling into the store's glass planes.

Ye Qiu's head spun from vertigo and it was from sheer luck he caught himself on the windowsill a second before he hit the floor.

"Sorry, sorry! I forgot you are not the most athletic of us!" Before his brain could formulate how this unknown person – male from the sound of it – knows that about him, a pair of arms is wrapped around his waist to steady him. He was too stunned to react, but he was already being hoisted back on his feet.

The damn duffel bag was once again pushed to his chest.

"Please accept this! This is the least I can do to thank you. I'm so sorry but I can't chat with you right now. I fled out the hotel the instant I saw you across the street!"

The man stepped back once he made sure Ye Qiu was upright again. Ye Qiu took the opportunity to seize up the perpetrator. He did a double take at what he saw in front of him. The man looked to be in his early 30's, about 1m81cm in height and has light brown hair but what set all the alarm bells off in his head was his attire: bare chest, loose pants and from the looks of it, has only flung on a bathrobe to be borderline decent in public. The man was not even wearing any footwear and it's snowing out here for Pete's sake!

Ye Qiu was getting increasingly creeped out by the second.

"Sir – " Ye Qiu began but was cut off by the man.

"Oh, no need to be so formal with me, Ye Qiu! Brrr!! It's so cold out! I should head back. My wife – yes, I have a wife now, how crazy is that? Remember how I used to say I wasn't one to be tied down? Ahaha – doesn't know I ran out the room to meet you!"

Ye Qiu's head was spinning from the onslaught of information. He understood by now that the man was confusing him with his twin.

"She doesn't understand why I drag this duffel bag around everywhere I go. I told her how special your act of kindness was but she only saw it as excess baggage to lug around. Now I'm glad I stuck to it because I never once lost hope of running into you randomly like this."

He was distantly aware of all the stares they were attracting. What a sight they must make indeed: one handsome young man, all nicely dressed up and another one dressed in only a bathrobe and sweatpants, discussing about the latter running from his wife to meet him on the stre –

Okay, stop.

That train of thought was quickly getting disturbing.

However, Ye Qiu's brain was already starting to connect the dots without his permission.

“My! Look at how much you have grown! I can’t believe how good looking you are now!”

The man smiled, stepping closer to clap Ye Qiu on the shoulder. He lowered his voice, as if about to tell a secret.

"And between you and me, if you ever need help or, say, favours, you know I'll never turn you down. Not after all these years together."

Ye Qiu's mind screeched to a complete stop.

Grown?

Good looking?

Favours?? What kind of favours?

The sexu –

Hold on.

Pause.

Rewind.

Play.

"...I ran out the room to meet you!"

"...how special your act of kindness was..."

"...I never once lost hope of running into you..."

Ye Qiu’s brain very nearly went on overdrive now.

"...Look at how much you have grown! I can’t believe how good looking you are now!”

What.

"...if you ever need help or, say, favours, you know I'll never turn you down."

The.

"...Not after all these years together."

Fuck!

"Wh – ?!"

Just as he was about to put the man back in his place, he was gone, as suddenly as he had appeared, in a whirl of flapping bathrobe and disheveled hair.

Ye Qiu stared, gaping and sputtering like a fish out of water in his wake.

In his stunned state, he almost missed what the man shouted over his shoulder just before disappearing around the corner.

"And stop ignoring me on QQ!"

That snapped Ye Qiu back to his senses.

It all made sense now: the familiarity, the close contact, the suggestions .

It could only mean one thing…

Ye Qiu was suddenly very afraid of the contents of the duffel bag in his arms. He gazed down at the seemingly innocent bag. Cautiously, he unzipped the top and peeked inside.

He felt his blood run cold.

Somebody is going to die.

Ye Qiu officially had a name to hunt for his brand new hit list.

 


 

Liu Hao groaned when his phone went off for the fifth time in the span of an hour. It was barely past noon and he was dead set on taking a short nap before heading to lunch. Today was his day off, damn it! Can't people take a cue?!

The phone went silent and he sighed in relief. Ah, sweet, swee –

His phone went off again.

Liu Hao hissed in frustration. He had half a mind to throw his phone out the window, but he wasn’t exactly keen to potentially make City H’s headlines for giving a poor passerby a concussion. Imagine the riot it would cause: “Excellent Era’s Vice-Captain Gives Unlucky Passerby Concussion With Unidentified-Flying-Object-Turned-Phone.”

The other pros would never let him live it down.

He sighed, turning to the side to glare at this phone. Might as well get it over with since the cretin obviously couldn't take a cue.

He reached over and answered, pressing the phone to his ear without bothering to check the caller ID. It obviously wouldn’t be the higher ups since they all knew he had the day off today.

"What?" He spat, hoping the venom in his voice would make the person regret all their life decisions.

"Umm... Am I calling at the wrong time?" came the timid reply.

Liu Hao pinched the bridge of his nose. Of course it would be Chen Yehui.

"No, I'm just tired. The transition from Ye Qiu's to Sun Xiang's leadership is taking its toll."

And because it was Chen Yehui, he would make an exception. Only this one time, though.

"Ah. Please take care of yourself, Vice-Captain."

Liu Hao somehow managed not to roll his eyes. "Of course. That's what day offs are for."

The line went quiet for a while after that and Liu Hao really rolled his eyes this time. "You're not bothering me if that's what you’re worried about. I was only lying in bed, anyway. So, what it is you wanted to tell me?"

"Ah, right. Uh, there's this new player I want you to assess the skills of."

"Hmm?" Liu Hao raised an eyebrow, "You need me for that? Can't you tell by yourself? You are the best player we have just after the other pros, after all."

"Yes, but I would like to know your opinion. Plus, there's one problem."

"What problem?"

There were tapping and clicking sounds from the other side, and being a pro-player, Liu Hao immediately knew that Chen Yehui was on the computer.

"He doesn't have a class."

Liu Hao blinked. Come again?

"No class?"

"Level 21, no class. See for yourself. I just sent you screenshots of his records and links to his Bilibili and Weibo account for videos."

Liu Hao frowned then reluctantly got up from bed to sit at his desk.

No class... Did that player plan to play unspecialised? For Chen Yehui to insist he check out this person's skills like this meant he was extremely skilled.

Unspecialised characters were relics of the past but it was not unheard of for noobs to try it out at beginner levels. They would quickly find out why the 'class' was abandoned, though, as it came with much more inconveniences than advantages, what with all the weapon changes and annoying cool downs and the like.

Furthermore, the person needed to have advanced knowledge of all the classes, and have the necessary mechanics for them to be able to fully utilise the 'class' to its full potential.

Fear suddenly gripped his heart.

Because the first person to pop in mind of being capable of such a feat was Ye Qiu.

But it couldn't be, could it?

A memory at the far recesses of his mind, which he avoided like the plague, whispered: "I haven't given up all hope yet. I'll be back."

The implications shook him to the core.

Moving his mouse several times to wake up his computer from its idle state, he took the few seconds the process required to compose his mind.

"Tell me more about that player," he said in the receiver dizzily. If Chen Yehui heard his voice crack, he didn't comment on it.

"He's apparently 15 or 16 years old and has only been playing Glory for about 10 months from what the rumours say."

The sigh that escaped him spoke volume of his unuttered dread.

That couldn't be Ye Qiu.

“He took three first kills the first night the tenth server opened; snatched the Blood Gunner’s first kill with a group of nobodies, and helped Tyrannical Ambition secure the Goblin Merchant first kill.”

Liu Hao clicked on the first link he was sent.

“His more recent exploit is breaking the Frost Forest record you and the guys set."

That made him pause. Really? Was he that good? Sure, it had been a casual run for them, but for a group of normal players to be able break their record... It was still a record set by pros after all.

"Was it his record you asked us to break in the first place?"

"Yes. He was in a different team at the time, but it's obvious he's the determining factor."

How impressive.

He clicked on the latest uploaded video. It was a video of the capture of the Goblin Merchant. The camera was angled so that it was recording from above the kid's shoulder. The only thing he could see of the kid himself was a splash of red and the faint outline of what appeared to be black frames.

Definitely not Ye Qiu. The height and hair colour were all wrong and Liu Hao has never seen him wear glasses before, nor did he wear contact lenses to his knowledge.

"Hooo, not bad," he mused, watching as the kid transitioned from a gunner's skill to a swordsman's skill seamlessly, "What's up with that weapon though? I've never seen one such as this before. It can transform?" He leaned closer to the screen, examining the timing and microing of the boy.

There was a bit of static as Chen Yehui breathed out a sigh on the other side. "Ah, yes. There's currently an ongoing scandal about whether this kid is using a bot or not to generate silver weapons."

Liu Hao huffed a laugh. "Bot or not, it doesn't change the fact that he has great mechanics. And also a brilliant tactical mind to be able to make all those guilds bow down one by one like that," he rubbed his chin in thought, "he's very good, that kid. I'm surprised nobody has scouted him yet."

"He’s not easy to pin down. Blue Brook Guild and Tyrannical Ambition have made contact with him before. So far, he has refused to join their ranks."

Liu Hao leaned back in his seat after the video was over. “What’s for sure, though, is he’d be a great asset for any club to have. For somebody so young, he’s already at the level of any average pro-player, but it’s hard to gauge the depth of his true skills from short videos. The ideal thing would be to watch him fight a proper pvp, and not against a noob.”

He then minimised the video, and narrowed his eyes at the tags at the bottom. "It's tagged #happyinternetcafe... isn't that the café from right across the street?"

"It is."

The Vice-Captain had to laugh at the irony. The kid sounded so untouchable yet was so close. "Then what are you waiting for?! Go talk to management and say you got my approval about his skills. Perhaps what would persuade him to join a team's training camp would be a personal invitation. And if he's that close, he most likely is a fan of Excellent Era and will jump on the offer."

On the other side of the line, Chen Yehui felt helpless. Here he was, waiting for the Vice-Captain's green light to do exactly just that, but he was instead being chided.

"Right. I'll let you know how it turns out."

"Yes, yes. I'll wait for your call," Liu Hao dismissed easily.

 


 

That afternoon, a thunderous Ye Qiu stormed in unhappily in Happy Internet Café.

"YE XIU!!!!"

His roar turned several heads his way but he paid them no heed as he stomped his way toward his twin-turned-younger brother. The brat was, unsurprisingly, playing Glory.

From the tone alone, it didn’t take a genius to deduce that something was seriously wrong.

"Hey, what's up! Back already?" Ye Xiu nervously tried to defuse the explosive atmosphere. His efforts were rewarded with a dark, dark glare.

"We need to talk. Now ."

By that time, all the commotion has attracted the attention of Chen Guo and Tang Rou who were lingering a few paces behind his back, not quite sure if they should intervene or not. Ye Qiu was honestly grateful his shitty brother has somehow found such reliable and caring friends but now was not the time be to appreciative of that.

He threw a glance over his shoulder to the boss of this place and felt sadistic pleasure when the woman took a few steps away cautiously. But he was not fully satisfied yet. He wished it was Ye Xiu cowering in fear instead.

"Where can we talk in private?" he asked, voice completely devoid of emotion now.

"The back room. Or upstairs. Whichever you prefer."

Ye Qiu nodded briskly in thanks then turned his attention back to his brother.

"Up." He ordered, in a tone that left no room for argument.

Ye Xiu looked like he was about to retort something, but only sighed in the end, resigning himself to his fate.

"Sir, yes, sir! Please lead the way." It didn't prevent him from replying mockingly, however. Talk about fanning a flame. But Ye Xiu was too exasperated with his twin's antics to really care right now.

Ye Qiu tossed him a disapproving frown before turning on his heels to head upstairs.

Ye Xiu's and the girls' gazes met for a brief second. One full of annoyance and two full of worry. Ye Xiu was quick to try soothing their worries with a wink and a soft smile. The girls looked at each other for a moment, but turned back to Ye Xiu to offer him smiles of encouragement of their own.

When the siblings disappeared at the top of the stairs, a figure in front of the doors quickly fled from the internet café after witnessing the whole scene. He quickly crossed the streets, not caring about the multitude of honking cars he left in his wake. Once inside the building he called home, he punched impatiently at the elevator button. When he reached the proper floor, he bolted out the lift and ran all the way to a specific door. He knocked frantically until the door was opened.

He didn't even have the mind to greet his technical superior.

"Ye Qiu!" He said in lieu of a greeting.

The dumbfounded look he received prompted Chen Yehui to elaborate, "I found Ye Qiu! And he's fucking coaching the kid!!"

Liu Hao found all his fears and apprehensions coming back full force at these words.

 

Chapter Text

Happy Internet Cafe, Upstairs——

Slamming the door shut behind him, Ye Qiu turned to face Ye Xiu. His suit was wrinkled, tie askew. Tossing the duffel bag to the ground in front of Ye Xiu, he gritted out, “This, I believe, is yours.”

“Huh?” Ye Xiu blinked in confusion. Su Mucheng already gave him all of his belongings, and anything left behind at their family home would no longer fit or be of use. What was Ye Qiu going on about?

“Open it.” Ye Qiu said nothing else, simply crossing his arms and leaning back against the door. He watched with hooded eyes as his now younger brother slowly unzipped the bag, cautious and hesitant.

The damn duffel bag was practically bursting at the seams. Previously, Ye Qiu had only take a peek, but that peek had told him more than enough. When Ye Xiu pulled the zipper a quarter of the way free, the contents began spilling out. Wads of cash flooded the floor, as well as a variety of other items. Plushies of all sorts of materials and sizes, dozens of leather card cases, snacks and drinks that Ye Qiu hoped to God weren’t expired because Ye Xiu would eat anything within reach when hungry without bothering to check the expiration date, posters, books, newspapers—all of this simply made Ye Qiu’s suspicions grow.

“Well?” Ye Qiu was beyond angry at this point. This...what did his twin have to go through after he ran away? Would he have had to go through the same if he was the one to run away? A twister of mixed feelings swirled within Ye Qiu. Years of resentment fought fiercely with years of love and admiration.

“Uh...did you buy me all this?” Ye Xiu stared blankly at the cache of goods. He was pretty sure Ye Qiu didn’t even know the name of Glory, so why were there posters of famous Glory account cards and professional players from around the world? The books were also all Glory-related, same with the newspapers.

Plucking one of the leather card cases from the small mountain of items, he took a moment to observe the design—a white cross stitched onto red leather. Flipping it open, he found a stack of account cards...for servers in Switzerland. Neatly written on each card was the account name as well as the class and level, in German and Chinese. Even more confused, he grabbed another leather case, this time colored like the flag of the United States of America—more Glory account cards: max leveled, at each of the prior level limits, and even level 1 cards. He was positive that if he checked any of the accounts, they would be blank cards—stats undistributed. Glancing at the duffel bag, which was still half full, he realised that those boxes must hold the respective card readers for the servers...and that the thick envelope taped to the first box was perhaps a VPN?

This was definitely not from Ye Qiu. He wouldn’t have thought about including card readers or a VPN to play Glory. He then spied, tucked in the unopened half of the duffel bag, a bunch of fabric. Opening it fully, he found himself staring at a lot of jackets and t-shirts...in every color imaginable. All of them were Glory related, too.

“Brother…” Ye Xiu began, standing up from his kneeling position, “what happened?”

“Do you know someone,” Ye Qiu started, voice glacial, “who would apparently spend years toting this duffel bag around, all in the hopes of finding you? Someone who would comment on how much you have grown, someone who would say, quote unquote: ‘if you ever need help or, say, favours, you know I'll never turn you down. Not after all these years together.’ Does this ring a bell?” As each word left his mouth, he found himself becoming short of breath, rage slowly shattering the forced calm he had induced himself into.

“Uh...favours?” The entirety of the quote began unraveling in Ye Xiu’s mind. In but seconds, he realised exactly why Ye Qiu looked like he was on the verge of transforming into a dragon and roasting people alive. “Wait, it’s not like that!”

“Like what.” Ye Qiu pushed himself off the wall and strode over, taking full advantage of the several centimeter height difference between the two of them. “Were you really too arrogant to return home and ask for help? You were willing to debase yourself, all because of your goddamn pride?”

“That didn’t happen!” Ye Xiu exclaimed, nearly choking on his words. “Muqiu and I funded ourselves through gaming! We would never—!”

“Then what did that craven bastard mean by favours? Good-looking? Ignoring him on QQ?” Ye Qiu’s voice gradually grew louder, drawing the attention of the other occupant of the upstairs apartment.

While Tang Rou and Chen Guo were downstairs manning the internet cafe, with the other employees having gone out for dinner, someone else was upstairs trying to make do with portable kitchen appliances.

Fang Shijing set down the pair of wooden chopsticks he was using to cook stir-fry noodles, frowning. At first, he thought it was just a friend of Ye Qiu—Xiu? He never did ask for the story behind the name discrepancy—but the raised voices stirred up doubt within him. Turning off the portable stove, he unwrapped the apron from around his waist and hung it over a nearby chair, making his way over to the living room area.

“What’s going on?” Fang Shijing called out, stepping into view. When he caught sight of what seemed like Ye Qiu, at his proper age, and then a mini, redhead Ye Qiu with glasses, he froze. What. The. Hell?

“Uh…” Ye Xiu glanced between the fuming Ye Qiu and the stunned Fang Shijing, at a loss as to what to do. “Brother, meet Fang Shijing, an old acquaintance. Old man, meet my younger twin brother, Ye Qiu.”

Fang Shijing stepped out of the doorway. “I thought your name was Ye Qiu?” He caught sight of the mess strewn across the floor, his confusion growing with each item his eyes catalogued.

“He ran away from home and stole my identity,” Ye Qiu stated flatly, arms crossed once more.

“You mean I stole the luggage you prepared for running away,” Ye Xiu retorted, “You wouldn’t survive one day out on the streets, whereas I lasted ten years without having to go crawling home once.”

“Wait, so your name is Ye Xiu like that boss lady said?” Fang Shijing asked, “Is that why you never showed your face? Because you weren’t even competing with your real name?”

“Yea, we are, or were, identical twins, so it was easy to just use his ID.” Ye Xiu shrugged. “Anyway,” he turned back to face Ye Qiu, “I did not sell my body. What did the guy even look like? Why do you still jump to conclusions like this, Little Qiu? Have you not learned?” Ye Xiu shook his head in disappointment, looking like a scolding older brother despite being half a head shorter.

Flushing red, from either embarrassment or anger—who knew, Ye Qiu barely restrained himself from stomping his foot in frustration.  “Short, light brown hair, early 30’s, just over 180cm, strong jawline, stubble, ring any bells?”

“I know several people at that age range, most of which I haven’t seen in years,” Ye Xiu deadpanned.

“Hazel eyes? Married?”

“Nope, how would I know if he’s married? Like he apparently said, I’m ignoring him on QQ.”

Fang Shijing watched the byplay happen silently, eyebrows raised.

“Ah! He said he used to say that he wasn’t one to be tied down!” Ye Qiu said in revelation.

“Wait, you mean the person you ran into, the person who gave you this duffel bag full of money and merchandise, is Old Guo? Guo Mingyu, the guy who I thought vanished off the face of the earth without ever paying me back?” Ye Xiu asked, slack jawed. What were the odds? Was the guy in Beijing all along? No wonder he could never find the guy!

Though, it would have probably helped if he actually checked QQ messages from anyone other than Su Mucheng. What could he say? He was a bit shy.

“Wait, God Guo Mingyu, the original owner of Peaceful Hermit? He actually got married?” Fang Shijing was just as shocked. This was the guy who vowed to never marry, claiming that his heart only had Glory in it. Well, Glory, alcohol, and...none of them talk about the last love, not around a certain person at least.

“I don’t care what his name is; why did he throw a duffel bag at me out of nowhere, thinking I’m you?!” Ye Qiu kicked the bag, causing more items to spill out.

“Hey! Be careful! Those are my gifts, no need for you to be so rough with them!” Ye Xiu exclaimed, kneeling down quickly again to make sure none of the Glory merchandise was damaged in any way. “Besides, he’s just another pro player who retired early because of real life issues and the like. He signed with Royal Style for three years, like we all did back then. A three-year contract was the standard. I think something happened with his family midway through Season 2, so he had to retire and forcefully break his contract. The fines...he couldn’t cover it by himself, and he was too proud to even mention he needed help.”

“Yet you somehow heard of his troubles and decided to lend him money,” Fang Shijing finished for him, shaking his head. “So the stories from Xuefeng and the others are true?”

“Uh, stories?” Ye Xiu stared at him, confusion shining brightly within amber eyes.

“Your thoughtless generosity and compassion,” Fang Shijing clarified. “I thought it was just the Shrine exaggerating things as usual, but it seems like you do have a heart of gold within you, Little Leaf.” A smile crossed the body builder’s lips, teasing and fond.

“Not you, too,” Ye Xiu grumbled upon hearing the nickname. “Shrine though? I haven’t heard that nickname in years. Brother Xuefeng never did tell me where the name came from either.”

“You...can ask him that yourself.”

“So you just lent him money? How much?” Ye Qiu asked, his frown deepening. The cash denominations in the bag were all 100 RMB banknotes. He estimated the bag to contain over 1,000,000 RMB at the very least.

“Around 400,000 RMB?” Ye Xiu recalled. “I guess he wanted to pay me back with interest.” This would have been more helpful earlier, back before he was forced to retire since he couldn’t pay the fines for breaking his contract with Excellent Era.

Pinching the bridge of his nose in sheer exasperation, Ye Qiu asked, “Couldn’t you have explained that earlier?”

What earlier? You wouldn’t even let me get a word in edgewise!

“So...twins?” Fang Shijing drawled, breaking the awkward silence.

“Ah...right, guess we’re not twins any longer. Since you’re back, brother, does that mean the new identity papers are done?” Ye Xiu asked. His hands continued to attempt to pack the items back into the duffel bag. After several fruitless attempts to zip the bag closed, he gave up and began withdrawing all the cash with the intention of placing it into the bank later.

Ye Qiu sighed and pulled out the attache case and paper bag he was originally carrying around earlier that day. “Here.” He handed it over to Ye Xiu. “Papers, ID, bank accounts, the works. I also got you a phone and inputted my personal number into it. It’s time you become a part of society, little brother,” Ye Qiu deliberately emphasised his last two words to highlight his change in status.

It was weird but still acceptable for a man in his mid to late twenties to not have a phone. It was downright strange for a teenager to not have a phone.

Frowning, Ye Xiu accepted the briefcase as well as the paper bag. He chose to examine his new phone, only to find himself staring at a very thin block made of glass, plastic, and metal. The name of the brand didn’t escape him either, causing him to giggle. Of course his brother would be sentimental enough to get him a Huawei phone, specifically the brand Honor.[1] The phone was a glossy red and black with gold accents; there was even a leaf keychain attached to it. Smiling softly, he looked up with large, round eyes at Ye Qiu. “Thanks, brother.”

“I...make sure to keep in touch! I’m only a phone call away, idiot brother, so don’t be hesitant about calling for help.”

“Right, I will.” Ye Xiu nodded obediently as he thumbed his new phone on. The lockscreen wallpaper was even an old childhood picture of the two of them and Little Dot.

“You were cute as a kid,” Fang Shijing mused over his shoulder. He felt bad for their parents though. It would have been hell raising a kid as shameless as Ye Xiu.

“Oh, right. Old man, is dinner done? Don’t tell me you left it to burn?”

“It’s almost done, brat. Don’t worry. Hurry up and wash your hands. I’m not that bad of a chef, if I say so myself.”

“I’ll be the judge of that.” Stowing his phone into the pocket of his jacket, Ye Xiu pushed his glasses up higher on his nose before dashing off to the bathroom.

“Wait, Ye Xiu, can you go to the store and pick up some more juice,” Fang Shijing called out. “It seemed like you guys ran out this morning.”

“Oh, yea. I think Sister Rou said she would get it tomorrow morning. I can get it now though?” Ye Xiu trailed off upon seeing the disapproving look on Fang Shijing’s face. At Fang Shijing’s nod, Ye Xiu changed directions toward the stairs.

After Ye Xiu disappeared downstairs, Fang Shijing shot Ye Qiu a glance. “I assume you’ll be staying for dinner as well?”

Ye Qiu eyed the muscular man, an ambiguous look in his eyes. “Yes, I think I will.” Who was this man, and how come he was so familiar with Ye Xiu? How could he get Ye Xiu to listen?


『Today at 17:52』

Guo MingyuV 】: @ Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu# ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 528914 Reposts 」 「 19762 Comments 」 「 226k Likes 」

Gu Yifei【V】: WHAT?! YOU MET UP WITH LITTLE CAPTAIN!?!?!?! HOW

Gu Yifei【V】 : @ Guo Mingyu 【V】 I demand an explanation. How dare you meet up with little captain

Guo Mingyu 【V】: Heh, jealous? Guess the Goddess of Luck chose to bless me and not you.

▼See 1564 Replies

 

『Today at 18:05』

Huang Shaotian 【V】 :    @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu OLD YE OLD YE OLD YE!!!!! Get over here and explain!!! How come you retired huh? Meeting up with all the oldies then?!?!?! Come on come on come on, you must have enough energy to pkpkpkpkpkpkpkpk if you can find energy to meet up with this guy! // @ Guo Mingyu 【V】: @ Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu# ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 24514 Reposts 」 「 189352 Comments 」 「 57k Likes 」

 

『Today at 18:09』

Yu Wenzhou 【V】 :   Senior, please explain ^_^ //Huang Shaotian 【V】 :    @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu OLD YE OLD YE OLD YE!!!!! Get over here and explain!!! How come you retired huh? Meeting up with all the oldies then?!?!?! Come on come on come on, you must have enough energy to pkpkpkpkpkpkpkpk if you can find energy to meet up with this guy! // @ Guo Mingyu 【V】: @ Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu# ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 21173 Reposts 」 「 145382 Comments 」 「 60k Likes 」

 

『Today at 18:32』

Zhu Minglei 【V】: @Gu Yifei V】@Lin Xiao @Yang Chen V】@Wu Xuefeng V】 Do any of you know what this is about?!?! //Guo MingyuV】: @Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu# ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 5914 Reposts 」 「 1762 Comments 」 「 16k Likes 」

 

『Today at 18:45』

Han Wenqing 【V】 : @ Ye Qiu So you ran away to Beijing?//@ Guo MingyuV 】: @ Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu#  ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 55984 Reposts 」 「 2452 Comments 」 「 55k Likes 」

 

『Today at 19:00』

Zhang Xinjie 【V】: Captain, please return to the clubhouse once you’re done with your impromptu gym trip. // @Han Wenqing 【V】: So you ran away to Beijing?//@Guo MingyuV】: @Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu#  ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 11941 Reposts 」 「 2328 Comments 」 「 32k Likes 」

 

『Today at 19:21』

Su MuchengV 】: Hehe // @ Guo MingyuV 】: @ Ye Qiu It was amazing seeing you again! Finally glad I met up with you after all this time. Hit me up on QQ when you’re free; let’s hang out. I can introduce you to my wife! #WhereIsYeQiu# #MissingYeQiu# #FoundYeQiu#  ∇ Beijing Grand Hotel

「 Bookmark 」 「 39623 Reposts 」 「 59621 Comment 」 「 87kLikes 」

Chu Yunxiu 【V】: Mumu, do you know something???

Su MuchengV】: [wink][wink][wink]

Huang Shaotian 【V】: Su Mucheng!!! Spill spill spill, what was Old Ye doing in Beijing?! Tell me tell me tell me

Su MuchengV】: :)

▼See 2874 Replies


Ye Xiu shoved his hands into his pockets, a beanie firmly squishing down his red hair. The moment he walked out the front door, mist already began forming at the corners of his glasses. A black parka with a furred lining wrapped around his thin frame, draped over him by Chen Guo when she realised Fang Shijing had sent him out on an errand.

With a sigh and a quick glance in both directions, he crossed the street and began walking toward the convenience store a block down, near the intersection. At least it wasn’t that far from the internet cafe. If it was another block or two down, he would have had words with Fang Shijing. Glancing to the side, he looked blankly at the brightly lit clubhouse. Excellent Era... it still hurt to think about all those years of camaraderie, gone just like that. He didn’t really need to cross the street so early, but even if he and Excellent Era were no longer walking down the same path together, this was still the team he helped raise from the ground up. It hurt to stay away just as much as it did to be so close yet so far. Suddenly, Ye Xiu found himself stumbling back, nearly falling to the ground if a hand didn’t clamp down on his arm with a vice grip.

“Wha—?” Glasses askew, Ye Xiu blinked up at the tall figure who bumped into him. He didn’t actually need glasses, so it was quite easy for him to recognise the blond.

“Hey, you alright?” Sun Xiang had just stepped out of the clubhouse when he felt an impact against his side. He stared down at the person he just saved from colliding bottom first with the snowy ground. Lithe frame, somewhat long dark red hair, slender face, bright amber eyes framed with long lashes…

She’s pretty, Sun Xiang thought, a smirk forming on his face.

Chapter Text

“Yeah, thanks,” Ye Xiu mumbled, unsteadily finding his footing again. He tugged his arm free, or tried to. Sun Xiang still had a firm grip on him. “Do you mind letting go?” Amber eyes flashed slightly in annoyance. First he had to deal with his idiot brother making a fuss, and now he had to deal with this rookie who wouldn’t even appreciate One Autumn Leaf like he should.

 

“Ah, sorry! I just got lost in your eyes,” Sun Xiang smoothly said, his smirk transforming into a good-natured grin. He loosened his grip on the redhead’s arm and instead looped their arms together. “Where are you off to so late at night?”

 

“Late?” Ye Xiu looked up at the sky, where the last vestiges of a sunset was still visible. “Do you need your eyes checked, mister?”

 

“No, maybe my heart though. I think it’s been stolen.” Sun Xiang used his other hand to ruffle his hair, his head tilted to the side in a ‘what can you do’ type of expression.

 

 

 

“Then perhaps you should file a report at the police station,” Ye Xiu blandly said as he removed his person from Sun Xiang’s reach and continued on toward the store.

 

Stunned, Sun Xiang stood there motionlessly for a moment, staring blankly into space, only for his eyes to soon be drawn back to that departing figure. In but a few strides, he was matching pace with the cute girl once again.

 

“So…” Sun Xiang trailed off. He glanced ahead at the bright lights of the convenience store. “You’re heading to the store? What for? How about I come along and carry your stuff for you. A cutie like you shouldn’t have to work so much,” Sun Xiang offered. He tucked both his hands into the pockets of his hunter green parka, which—now that he thought about it—looked very similar to the parka the redhead was wearing. Maybe it was fate they met this night? The vice captain of Excellent Era had been making so much of a commotion back at the clubhouse that Sun Xiang had ditched the place for some fresh air. Maybe it was meant to be.

 

“Well,” Ye Xiu considered. Free labor? Was it worth spending more time with the blond though…

 

“Are you worried about taking up my time? Don’t worry, I would rather spend my time with you than anywhere else,” Sun Xiang reassured Ye Xiu upon seeing the latter look hesitant.

 

“Even more than Glory?” Ye Xiu innocently asked.

 

Sun Xiang stumbled, as if Ye Xiu had just dropped a brick onto his head. “Y–you recognize me?”

 

“Of course, why wouldn’t I? Best rookie of last season, new captain of Excellent Era.” Sun Xiang was so shocked yet pleased at the recognition that he missed how the second part had been gritted out.

 

“Yes, that’s me! Since you have my name, may I have yours?” Like an eager puppy, Sun Xiang seized the opportunity given to him.

 

“Ye Xiu.” The words were whispered softly, barely audible over the nightlife ambiance surrounding them.

 

“It suits you,” Sun Xiang said with a smile. Xiu, for elegant? Beautiful? Sun Xiang swept his gaze over the redhead, who was still not looking him in the face. Not that he could blame her, though. He was very handsome and a head taller; she must not want to crane her neck up so high. Her name suits her very well. She’s definitely going to grow up into a beauty. [1]

 

“Thanks?” Ye Xiu blinked up at the blond in confusion. Okay, he was sure some form of miscommunication occurred, but he wasn’t sure about what. He stoutly ignored the ‘cutie’ remark, too used to others calling him the same back when he was this age. “I’m in a hurry, so if you want to help, fine. Oh, and find something to cover your face. I don’t want to deal with your mob of fans.”

 

Ye Xiu quickened his steps toward the convenience store. Sure, he would have to deal with the blond, but free labor; plus, he didn’t want to leave Ye Qiu with Fang Shijing a moment longer than he had to. Who knew what stories from their childhood Ye Qiu would tell Fang Shijing?!

 

Realizing that he was on the streets, unmasked, Sun Xiang flipped his hood up and pulled a black cotton face mask out from his pocket, thankful that he had stuffed one in his pocket as an emergency.

 

“Oi,” Sun Xiang called out when he saw how far the redhead was leaving him in the dust during the few moments he was otherwise occupied. His voice was muffled by the mask, however, so it was not like she could hear him. He caught up with her quickly, though, as her short strides couldn’t take her that far away from him. “Lead the way, cutie.” He maintained a pace a step or two behind her, his eyes unintentionally drifting lower at times. She’s far feistier than I expected, and not an overbearing fan either. Huh, I think I might like her.

 

His phone began buzzing like crazy though, pissing him off. A quick glance at the chat had him furiously typing then muting the whole damn thing. He had better things to focus on.

 


 

The Shrine

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ultramarine Daybreak @Lin Xiao @Dawning Dusk @Total Darkness

Total Darkness (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I know????
Like what???? You saw, too, right?
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I did!!!
Also, change your fucking name already >.>
Total Darkness (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… Why? qwq
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
We’ve all changed our names, except, well, Lin Xiao, lazy piece of shit that he is, and you.
Change it, or I’ll kick you.
Total Darkness (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… Rude.

[Total Darkness changed their name to Vodka’s Era]
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
HAHAHAHA can you get any less creative???
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
OMFG what the fuck do you want from meeeeeee >.<
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
…. What is Guo Mingyu doing with our smol captain?
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
That’s what I want to know!!!!
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Dawning Dusk @Lin Xiao Where are yah???? >.>
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Wait wtf. Is Guo Mingyu lying? Mucheng says Ye Qiu hasn’t left Hangzhou
Or, well, Ye Xiu
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Xiu?
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Apparently, according to Shijing, he’s been using his twin’s identity to participate in matches...
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
……………………………………………………
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Control thyself.
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’m a defense attorney, not a prosecutor
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Also, Old Guo’s reaction is off, especially considering what happened.
Lin Xiao (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
wt hppnd?
expln
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
There you are, old Lin, and as lazy as ever
Can’t you at least change your QQ nickname?

[Lin Xiao has changed their name to forestdrizzle]
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
The lack of capitalization and space is pissing me off
Also
Isn’t that just… your name but translated into English?
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
ye
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
...
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ultramarine Daybreak expln
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Well...

 


 

 

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@One Autumn Leaf @One Autumn Leaf @One Autumn Leaf WHERE ARE YAH WHERE ARE YAH WHERE ARE YAH
Answer me!!! @One Autumn Leaf
Nooooooooow!!! @One Autumn Leaf
One Autumn Leaf (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
WHAT???
I’m busy
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Oh fucking- not you! I meant @Ye Qiu
One Autumn Leaf (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Tch I’m muting this chat
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yeah yeah, no one cares
Vaccaria (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Once-Peaceful Hermit Beijing Grand Hotel? I’ll be there in a few hours
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Vaccaria look at my new sticker

Wait!
Life Extinguisher (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Once-Peaceful Hermit Coming after the match
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
WAIT! Who the fuck?
WAIT
@Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit Tell me where Ye Qiu is now!!! Tell me tell me tell me!
Once-Peaceful Hermit (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’m still in this dumb chat of Lin Xiao’s? :P Suckers
Bye, I’m outta Beijing
Peaceful Hermit (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Safe flight, Senior
[2]
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Aajhfshsfhsitfheijghrhelhjnwcfhksdvdhil erh ierl;ioj oe;ieiwariirs @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit

@Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu Come out come out come out come out come out!!!
Why you in Beijing, huh?
Why not Guangzhou????
Ye Qiu you bastard @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu answer meeeeee
Answer already!!!
Swoksaar (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Shaotian, I don’t think Ye Qiu is going to reply here if he hasn’t answered to any QQ messages so far.
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
But Wang Jiexi!!!! Is in!!! Beijing!!! That’s unfair!
Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ye Qiu Get out here and explain
Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ye Qiu !!!!
Empty Waves (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Captain is agreeing with Captain Han
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Freaking WANG JIEXI and XIAO SHIQIN you bastards in Beijing. Captain, let’s go to Beijing!!!
Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
!!!!
Jiang!!!!
Empty Waves (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
No, captain, we cannot go to Beijing. We have a match literally an hour from now
Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

Swoksaar (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
No, Shaotian, our match is against Samsara in an hour
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[3]
Windy Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
围观修罗场 [4]

Firebird Messenger(XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
ooh luck, captain!!! I’m rooting for you!!!
Life Extinguisher (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
>.>
Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Fuuuuuuu @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit Tell me where Ye Qiu is now!!!!
[Once-Peaceful Hermit has muted Troubling Rain]
Windy Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Harsh
Swoksaar (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit You sonnova bitch!!!!
[Once-Peaceful Hermit has muted Swoksaar]
Chaotic Cloudy Mountains (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@.@
Octave (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit Tell me where Ye Qiu is!!!!
[Once-Peaceful Hermit has muted Octave]
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
This is almost as good as a K drama

Bullet Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
This is so stressful…
@Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit @Once-Peaceful Hermit You fucking power abuser!!! You CAN’T GET RID OF ME
[5]
[Once-Peaceful Hermit has muted Bullet Rain]
Immovable Rock (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
There’s 37 minutes, 32 seconds until the match starts…
Carved Ghost (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Smh
Crying Devil (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
^
[Desert Dust has unmuted Swoksaar]
[Desert Dust has unmuted Octave]
[Desert Dust has unmuted Bullet Rain]
Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Swoksaar Keep a leash on your dog
Swoksaar (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[6]
@Troubling Rain
[7]
Vaccaria (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[8]
Brilliant Edge (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Long Live our Captain; he has saved me from the plague that is Huang Shaotian
Soul Speaker (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Long Live our Captain; he has saved me from the plague that is Huang Shaotian +1
Receding Tides (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Long Live our Captain; he has saved me from the plague that is Huang Shaotian +2
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
fak, gmy u piece of shit
Once-Peaceful Hermit (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Oh SHIT
[forestdrizzle has kicked Once-Peaceful Hermit]
Dark Forest (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
O.O

Doubtful Demon (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[9]
Laughing Song (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
…. [Incense]
Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… @Doubtful Demon

Dazzling Hundred Blossoms (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Uh, was that… the chat owner?
Delilo (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense] +1
Demon Subduer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yes, yes it was… [Sweats]
Doubtful Demon (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
群主威武!群主霸气![10]
Cruel Silence (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
群主威武!群主霸气!+1
Scene Killer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
群主威武!群主霸气!+2
Flying Swords (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
群主威武!群主霸气!+3
Firebird Messenger (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
群主威武!群主霸气!+4
Ignis Fatuus (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Damn, I was hoping for more of a show…
Bullet Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
FUCkinG UNMUTE ME DAMNIT or I’ll pkpkpkpkpkpkpk yooouuuuu
………………………………………….
Anybody???
………………………………………….
[11]

 


 

Ye Xiu reached out with a few notes to pay for the orange juice, only to find his hand being shoved to the side. Sun Xiang handed over his card and simply flashed the redhead a smile. “I’ll cover it. Think of it as payment for being able to spend time with you.”

 

“...No,” Ye Xiu deadpanned, snatching the card away from the cashier and throwing it back into Sun Xiang’s chest. “Here, just take my money instead of this idiot’s.”

 

Sun Xiang blinked in confusion. What had just happened?

 

Once the orange juice was properly paid for, Ye Xiu shoved the bag over to Sun Xiang. “You offered to carry it, right? Let’s go. I took longer than I thought I needed to.” Jerking his head toward the entrance in indication, Ye Xiu left Sun Xiang standing at the counter, a stupefied expression on the blond’s face.

 

“Your gal?” the cashier asked conversationally.

 

“N–not really?” Sun Xiang mumbled, fumbling with the bulky bag full of a few quarts of orange juice.

 

“Uh huh, good luck then,” the cashier commented, “You’re going to need it.” He then ignored Sun Xiang for the next customer waiting in line.

 

Hearing the doors slide open, Sun Xiang nearly sprinted over to catch up to the petite-in-comparison redhead.

 

“Hey, what was that all about?”

 

Ye Xiu glanced up, a barely there sardonic smile on his face. “You cannot buy my time.” I already had to deal with my brother thinking I used to sell my body. If he heard even a word of you buying my time? Nope, not dealing with that.

 

“Oh,” Sun Xiang said, still not really understanding. Buy her time? What does she... oh. “I, it’s not like that! I, just, it’s the polite thing to do, isn’t it? Since I tagged along and... I can leave if I’m bothering you…?” Sun Xiang floundered, bag still in hand even as his eyes became downcast.

 

“Heh,” Ye Xiu laughed softly. “You’re a dork.” So easy to tease, just like Ye Qiu. Ye Xiu turned his head away and continued walking back in the direction of Excellent Era clubhouse. He didn’t see Sun Xiang’s ears burn from his words, the affectionate tone Ye Xiu unconsciously embedded in it striking a chord within the blond.

 

The duo walked past a few storefronts, only for Ye Xiu to smell a familiar scent. “Hmm?” he mumbled in confusion. Ye Xiu stopped walking and looked around, trying to pinpoint where that scent was coming from.

 

“Something the matter?” Sun Xiang asked. After the teasing remark earlier, the walk back had been silent.

 

“Do you smell that? I can’t seem to pinpoint what...oh, it’s you!” Ye Xiu exclaimed as he looked across the street at a lonely cart. After a quick glance in both directions, he crossed the street, which caused Sun Xiang to scramble after him. Blond locks fluttered in the wind as Sun Xiang looked back and forth repeatedly for cars.

 

“Be more careful!” Sun Xiang angrily exclaimed, catching Ye Xiu’s hand with his. “Even though it’s late at night, there still might be cars out,” he said, voice softening.

 

“Oh, alright. I did look though,” Ye Xiu pointed out, though without any sass.

 

“Oh, you’re back? More tangyuan?” the seller asked, pushing the top of his cart open a bit more and causing the aroma of tangyuan to blast the duo in the face.

 

“Mn, I’m actually here to ask you how come—” Ye Xiu began, only for Sun Xiang to cut him off.

 

“Sure, how much can we get for this?” Sun Xiang handed the seller a 100 RMB note. The redhead cutie was just too excited to see the tangyuan, so buying her some tangyuan would definitely score him points. The warmth of her hand clasped in his nearly overpowered all his other senses. Her hand’s so small and slender, like a pianist.

 

“For this, I’ll give you the best tangyuan I can make! One moment,” the seller replied, stuffing the note away. Rummaging beneath the cart for a moment, he emerged with two medium-sized containers. “Here, best rose milk chocolate tangyuan around, for ninety-nine yuan.” He ladeled in a generous helping in both before handing them over, as well as a 1 RMB note, to Sun Xiang.

 

Ye Xiu eyed the amount given. That’s a complete rip-off if I’ve ever seen one. Though, I guess Sun Xiang and I do look like foreigners with our hair. Eh, too much trouble to argue, and it’s not my money.

 

“Thank you,” Ye Xiu said when Sun Xiang handed a container over after they left the cart.

 

“No problem, my treat.” Sun Xiang tugged his face mask down to smile softly at the redhead. “Come on, I’ll walk you back home.”

 

“Oh, uh.” Ye Xiu didn’t know how to reply to that. “I can just head back myself.”

 

“No, there’s no way I’m letting a cute girl like you head back alone at night!” Sun Xiang vehemently protested.

 

“Cute girl?!” Ye Xiu’s eyes widened. “Not you, too,” Ye Xiu grumbled. “I’m a guy.”

 

A...a guy?! Sun Xiang stared down, speechless, at the redhead. Yet you still took advantage of my flirting anyway? “Wait, but your name? Isn’t it Ye Xiù ?

 

“No…? It’s Ye Xiū,” Ye Xiu corrected him. “You can just give me the orange juice and head back. I can bring it back to the cafe myself.”

 

“Cafe? No, it’s fine. I did offer, and it’s my fault for mistaking you for a girl just because you’re pretty— urk.” Sun Xiang flushed a brighter red when the compliment slipped out. What was he doing, still flirting with a guy?

 

Ye Xiu eyed him suspiciously, but he really didn’t want to carry this all back by himself. “Alright, to Happy Internet Cafe. You should head back to Excellent Era soon, though. Aren’t you playing a match in the next hour or so? Why are you even out accompanying me at this time?”

 

“Oh, shit,” Sun Xiang stated, eyes wide. He had totally forgotten. “Guess an angel distracted me too much,” he automatically replied, only to then realize what he had said. “I mean—”

 

Ye Xiu raised a brow. “Okay...good luck. I’ll probably be watching it later at the cafe, since boss is a huge fan of Excellent Era. I hope I can see One Autumn Leaf working in harmony with Dancing Rain like always.”

 

“Yeah, of course! Definitely,” Sun Xiang promised, eyes lighting up. Though still confused about how he was still drawn to this redhead like a moth to a flame, he decided to just go with the flow. He couldn’t afford to be more distracted than he already was. He would just deal with his mess of emotions after the match.

 

“Great, let’s go.” Ye Xiu began making his way down the street toward Happy Internet Cafe, tangyuan in hand, while Sun Xiang trailed behind with the orange juice and his own container of tangyuan.

 


 

Ye Xiu spat out his orange juice, listening to the story about “Ye Qiu” Li Yibo was making up. His eye twitched. He wanted to yell at Li Yibo about making up stories, but kept quiet. Chen Guo was already looking at him weirdly.

 

Thankfully, the other was soon distracted by Su Mucheng’s appearance, almost deafening Ye Xiu with the racket that suddenly exploded from pretty much all around them. He slapped his hands over his ears, seeing Fang Shijing and Ye Qiu do the same. The three exchanged helpless looks.

 

The progress of the match wasn’t surprising to Ye Xiu, nor was it surprising that Li Yibo and Pan Lin once again underestimated Su Mucheng.

 

Su Mucheng was much more cunning, much more observant than she was given credit for. However, people also tended to overlook that because of all the hype surrounding her and her beauty, mistakenly calling her the strongest female pro. That title went to Chu Yunxiu.

 

Unfortunately, Excellent Era lost twice after Su Mucheng’s splendid victory.

 

Then, it was Sun Xiang’s turn, and Ye Xiu had to admit Sun Xiang was well deserving of his title of prodigy. Just watching him, Ye Xiu could tell, that his play hadn’t suffered at all from switching classes. He played Battle Mage just as well as he played Berserker—no, even better. Ye Xiu wasn’t even sure if he himself could accomplish that. He never had to try, after all. He knew he was pro level in all the classes, but that came from an accumulation of years of experience, switching between the classes constantly. How long had Sun Xiang had to get used to the Battle Mage? A month? Two?

 

Ye Xiu let out a breath as Tide, Sun Xiang’s third opponent, fell. Impressive. Truly impressive. A 1v3? That was, doubtlessly, impressive.

 

But...

 

Sun Xiang hadn’t realized what was wrong yet. Too hot headed, not nearly perceptive enough toward the overall situation. Amidst the jeering from the Excellent Era fans toward 301 Degree’s loss, Ye Xiu merely sighed a shook his head, glancing around him before directing his words at the excited Chen Guo.

 

“Do you really think it’s that easy?” he asked.

 

“Huh?” Chen Guo blinked at him.

 

“You heard the commentators. A successful 1v3 has only happened twice in the history of the Alliance. Once by Desert Dust and another time by Troubling Rain, and both times against weak teams. Sun Xiang is strong, true, but he lacks experience. He’s only a second year rookie, remember? Doesn’t this seem too easy of a 1v3 to you?”

 

“This is, clearly, a trap,” Fang Shijing added. “The pace of the group arena had been fast, abnormally so. Yang Cong and his teammates were very clearly trying to increase Sun Xiang’s pace, and they succeeded.”

 

“The third match lasted the longest, with Xu Bin there. They were provoking Sun Xiang. Sun Xiang hasn’t just lost control of his hand speed, but also, his excitement. This might negatively impact the team competition, unless, of course, Sun Xiang can snap out of it,” Ye Xiu cut in, “We won’t know until it happens.”

 

Chen Guo turned back to the stream, much more subdued.

 

The match progressed like Ye Xiu and Fang Shijing had said it would. Sun Xiang charged ahead, leaving his teammates in the dust, seeming determined to score against the Grind King in a one on one again. However, this was no mere one on one. This was a team competition.

 

In the meantime, Yang Cong made his way over to ambush Dancing Rain.

 

“Wait, what’s this? It looks like Sun Xiang isn’t intending to meet Tide head to head!”

 

Ye Xiu blinked, mouth parting in surprise for a moment. On the field, Total Darkness and One Autumn Leaf had somehow regrouped, resulting in Tide’s Provoke hitting Total Darkness instead. One Autumn Leaf activated Dragon Breaks the Ranks, knocking Stellar Sword to one side before continuing on his way to the next opponent, and then the next, until he flew right past Dancing Rain, who had been Aerial Cannoning in the opposite direction.

 

Yang Cong’s ambush had failed to kill Dancing Rain, but he had done quite some damage. Then, he fled, One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain in hot pursuit. The two of them worked together to hunt down and deal with Scene Killer, with Dancing Rain hindering Scene Killer’s escape from afar as One Autumn Leaf charged forward.

 

However, on the other side, things weren’t going so well. It had gone from a 3v3 to a 3v2 with Tide keeping Total Darkness out of the way and busy. Liu Hao, who was probably the third most skilled in Excellent Era in terms of mechanics, had been pulled further and further away from his teammates. With the aces of their team nowhere to be seen, Qi Breaker soon succumbed, leaving Woven Shadows defenseless.

 

And then all the lights went out.

 

Ye Xiu sighed and covered his ears once more as the crowd around him started screaming and yelling in protest.

 

But, he really hadn’t been expecting that sudden change from Sun Xiang. It didn’t seem like any sort of strategy, more like Sun Xiang had suddenly remembered something and gained a single mindedness to—

 

Ye Xiu’s expression froze on his face.

 

I hope I can see One Autumn Leaf working in harmony with Dancing Rain like always.

 

Ye Xiu didn’t know if he should cry or laugh.

 

You have got to be kidding me.

 

Chapter Text

Liu Hao was beyond incensed. This loss… He growled, what was that brat thinking, ditching them for Dancing Rain of all people? They accounted for Sun Xiang going off on his own, but not for him to team up with Dancing Rain! He side-eyed the blonde, who was calmly answering all of the reporters’ questions about the match—against Liu Hao’s expectations too.

Where was the cocksure rookie he scouted out? Why did he only appear when they least needed him to, like before the match?

Back then, in the chaos of Ye Qiu’s reappearance, they had lost their captain.

Yes, that was right, they had lost their captain. Of all people to lose, right before a match, their captain had somehow vanished without a trace. They hadn’t even notice until Liu Hao had brought it up, concluding their period of chaos with ‘if Ye Qiu left, then good riddance.’

And thus another period of chaos had been born where everyone scrambled to find Sun Xiang, only to have him walk in, almost half an hour later, looking hyped for the match.

“Well, what are you all waiting for? We’re going to be late,” was all he had said, leaving everyone stunned in his wake.

So he wanders off and we’re the ones who get admonished for holding everyone up??? was what Liu Hao had thought then, and now?

He’s the one that was hyped for the match, yet look at how he performed?

Incidentally, Liu Hao failed to account for the rest of the team still playing as if Ye Qiu was leading, however. After years of undermining their former captain, it took more than a week to become loyal soldiers under the same flag.

Liu Hao could feel his eye twitching, but he still made sure to act deferential toward Sun Xiang during the interview. When he heard the latest question, and then their captain’s answer, he barely prevented himself from slamming his fists onto the table. This brat was more trouble than he seemed, way more trouble than he seemed. He didn’t need any more on his plate, what with Ye Qiu coaching that brat using Lord Grim and now running off to Beijing doing who knew what! He didn’t have the time or energy to be Sun Xiang’s fucking babysitter! What was he thinking?! This completely ruined his commercial value!

His media smile faltered for a moment before Liu Hao forcefully plastered it back onto his face.

Still, Liu Hao was more than irritated. Once he thought over Sun Xiang’s words from earlier, his mood only worsened. Even after exiting the stadium, the focus still turned out to be goddamn Ye Qiu and that damn protégé of his. Feeling a headache starting to pulse at his temples, Liu Hao groaned and thought, I need a drink.


Yang Cong was no idiot. He knew that, on the battlefield, anything could happen, and things could change in a split second. That was why, when he realized One Autumn Leaf was charging over, he immediately changed his plans.

Instead of killing Dancing Rain first, he’d lead them on a merry chase, allowing his teammates to get the upper hand, even if it meant sacrificing himself.

So he fled.

Being an Assassin, Yang Cong had plenty of tricks up his sleeve. He, thankfully, had the foresight to not waste his Fleet Foot on pursuing Dancing Rain. Out of all skills, Fleet Foot was the one that boosted movement speed by the most, giving him a tremendous boost and Dancing Rain a hard time aiming properly. One Autumn Leaf charged after him, but, having used his Dragon Breaks the Ranks to get here, the skill was still on cooldown. Unless he could activate a Neutral Chaser, he’d have no way of increasing his movement speed past a sprint.

Unfortunately, there were no targets around for him to use Dragon Tooth on.

Luckily for the two of them, Fleet Foot didn’t last forever, and by the time it ended, Scene Killer hadn’t gotten out of Dancing Rain’s range yet. There was enough cover for him to use to have successfully ambushed Dancing Rain, but, having been in One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain’s sights the entire time, none of it would allow him to actually escape. He was relying mostly on sound to dodge Su Mucheng’s attacks, going left, right, swerving around.

Turning Fire, Against the Lightning, both movement skills were on cooldown. Standing Ice and With the Wind would not help him here.

Sun Xiang’s Dragon Breaks the Ranks had come off cooldown by now, and while he was closing in thanks to Dancing Rain’s support, he wasn’t closing in fast enough. There was no other way to go about it. Dragon Breaks the Ranks was activated, sending him crashing through the foliage toward Scene Killer.

Then a message popped up in the team chat. It was Stellar Sword, and he only said two words: “One down.”

Clearly, they had taken one member of Excellent Era down.

Then, a message finally appeared in the Excellent Era’s party chat. It was Zhang Jiaxing’s Woven Shadows, who sent coordinates along with a single cry for help. Qi Breaker had fallen, and a Cleric couldn’t fight by himself.

Suddenly, as Sun Xiang charged forward, he realised Scene Killer’s path had changed. The other had doubled back, darting straight at him with a level 65 skill Flashing Lunge! The attack sent him right at One Autumn Leaf as the Battle Mage’s Dragon Breaks the Ranks came to an end. One Autumn Leaf sidestepped, only to realise it had been a feint. The powerful skill was cancelled and a Shining Cut sent out instead. Sun Xiang parried, reflexes just as quick as before, with a Sky Strike and immediately sent the Chaser forth.

Chasers couldn’t be dodged, and at such a distance, there would be no time to dodge it either. Sun Xiang followed up with Falling Flower Palm, aiming to blow Scene Killer back, straight into the Stinger Dancing Rain was sending overhead.

But then… Standing Ice! Another of the Assassin’s movement skills; this time, one that allowed the user to root themselves in place. The Chaser hit, then Falling Flower Palm, but Scene Killer remained unaffected until the shockwave of the stinger’s explosions pushed him forwards.

Against the Thunder! This movement skill sent Scene Killer further forward. Coupled with the force from the Stinger, Sun Xiang didn’t have enough time to react as One Autumn Leaf was hit with a Life-Risking Stab.

Scene Killer’s icon greyed out.

Thankfully, Scene Killer had taken quite a lot of damage by then, and the attack wasn’t enough to kill One Autumn Leaf in one hit. However, both Dancing Rain and One Autumn Leaf had taken significant damage by then, but there wasn’t time for resting. It had only been mere seconds since Qi Breaker had died, mere seconds where their Cleric was left defenseless.

Both One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain turned back to get to Woven Shadows, but Ye Xiu knew that it would be too late.

Even if He Ming’s Merciless Magic got to Woven Shadows in time, it would still be a 3v2, with a weakened Cleric, at that. Unless, of course, Total Darkness had managed to regroup with them, but Ye Xiu doubted it. If there was one thing Xu Bin was good at, it was grinding his opponents and keeping them occupied.

Chances were, Woven Shadows would be dead by the time One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain arrived. Yang Cong had led them on quite the merry chase. Without a Cleric, there would be no way that One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain would be able to out-tank 301 Degrees, and Ye Xiu could already tell that Sun Xiang’s hands were getting tired from the intensity of the fight.

With a tap, Ye Xiu skipped forward through the recording. He already knew the ending just from this, so there was no point in watching One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain fall. He was curious, however, about how Sun Xiang intended to explain his actions during the match, so when he reached the post-match interview portion of the recording, he allowed the recording to play uninhibited.

In the background, he could hear Fang Shijing, Tang Rou, and Ye Qiu assist the electrician uncle, as they had been for the past two hours. All of the customers had already left, having grown tired of waiting for the electricity to come back on. Ye Xiu, with his young appearance, had been allowed to sit to the side and simply watch the others work—to his delight. Sitting without a functional computer was quite boring, however, so Ye Xiu had spent the time sorting through the rest of the gifts: stacking the snacks and drinks to one side, the boxes to another, a neat pile of leather card cases, a chair full of Glory merchandise apparel, etc.

When he had finished, he remembered that Ye Qiu had given him a phone earlier, a phone that ran on a battery and was thus unaffected by the power outage! Thus, Ye Xiu had used his limited phone knowledge to bring up the internet and search for a recording of the 301 Degrees versus Excellent Era match. Luckily Ye Qiu had remembered to include earbuds with the phone, so Ye Xiu had unobtrusively been watching the match until now.

For the most part, the questions were routine—thoughts on your opponents, opinions about your team’s performance, hopes for future matches, etc. They did bring up his, no, Ye Qiu’s retirement, but Ye Xiu skipped that part, not in the mood to hear the bland, artificial words of condolences and camaraderie. He skipped a bit too far and only caught the tail end of the next question though.

“...thinking when you rushed to Dancing Rain’s side?”

Sun Xiang smiled at this, the previous scowl on his facing smoothening out. “When you think of One Autumn Leaf, your mind brings up Dancing Rain as well. What is Dancing Rain without One Autumn Leaf? One Autumn Leaf without Dancing Rain? At first, I had forgotten about this, but a dear someone reminded me before the match, which kept this image at the forefront of my mind. When I saw Dancing Rain being targeted, it was as if my hands moved by themselves, as if the energy of the previous Battle God flowed through me to protect his partner. This dear person promised to watch the match tonight, so if you’re out there watching me right now, cutie, I believe I kept my promise as best as I could. I’ll do my best to live up to the legacy left behind by Ye Qiu and make the title Battle God resound throughout Glory, with Dancing Rain fighting alongside me—like always.”

 

Ye Xiu was in the middle of biting down on another stick of pocky when Sun Xiang made his speech. He froze at Sun Xiang’s vow, the pocky stick falling out of his mouth and breaking on the table. Eyes wide behind black frames, he actually paused the video, pulled out his earbuds, and made sure there was no earwax or anything within his ears. Replaying that question again, he found himself at a loss.

Nope, he wasn’t hearing things. The blond really had just referred to him on live television, even calling him ‘cutie.’

“Oh? Cutie? Is there someone special in your life, Captain Sun?” This time, a female reporter spoke up, pouncing on this juicy gossip.

“Haha, I wish.” Sun Xiang ruffled his hair, his smile still too soft to be a smirk yet still dripping with confidence. “They’re kind of hard to impress, and after this match, I think I have a long way to go. But, what’s wrong with a bit of a chase?”

“Huh, what an ass,” Tang Rou commented, startling Ye Xiu. He jerked around in his seat and realised Tang Rou had been leaning over his shoulder, reading the captions.

“Sis–sister Rou! I thought you were helping the electrician uncle with the power?” Ye Xiu stammered, flushing as if he had been caught red-handed. He ended the video there, leaving him unaware of the fact that Sun Xiang had continued talking about his ‘cutie’ and their beautiful red locks even after that question.

“Oh, he should be done any second,” Tang Rou replied, after which the lights flickered on. The bill would have gone to the Internet Cafe if Ye Qiu hadn’t picked up the bill himself, saying it wasn’t that big of a deal. The look in his eyes when he glanced at Fang Shijing when he said this, however, led Tang Rou to believe something else influenced his generosity. In any case, she had left the two men to their posturing and went to join Ye Xiu. Seeing him engrossed with his phone had made her curious though.

“So who is he?” Ye Xiu blinked. Did she not know who Sun Xiang was? Oh, that was right; Tang Rou had little interest in Glory before he came along, which meant she would be even more ignorant about the professional league.

“That’s Sun Xiang, the new captain of Excellent Era across the street,” Ye Xiu explained.

“Oh, that doesn’t excuse him for being an ass though. I’ve dealt with men like him before. He’s not worth the time.”

So harsh! Ye Xiu could only stare at Tang Rou as she dug through the pile of snacks he had set aside.

“You don’t mind me taking some, do you, Little Leaf?” Tang Rou asked. Ye Xiu shook his head and gestured for her to go ahead. He had more than enough snacks to last him awhile, and he could always con Ye Qiu into buying more for him.

“Do you think there will still be people coming?” Ye Xiu asked. He didn’t have a lot of work experience, so it was better for him to confer with his senior in the workforce.

“Hmm, not sure. It’s after midnight, so we might get some stragglers. I’ll go make us some tea. Can you start the server computer for me?” She got up and examined the tea packets that had also been gifted. Expertly choosing a sachet, she went to make a pot of tea. Good tea leaves like these deserved a pot instead of just any mug. She somewhat recalled there being a red mug with a leaf motif somewhere in the cupboards. Since the teen didn’t bring his own, and because no one else ever used that mug, she might as well just designate that mug as his.

“Sure. Thanks for the tea,” Ye Xiu said in advance. He threw away the empty cartons of pocky he had previously been munching on and began moving the rest of the gifts below the counter. Once the area was clear, he started up the server computer and then the computer at the reception desk. He was still technically on the clock despite there being no customers at the moment. Plus, this was a crucial moment in the game; he had to level up to level 25 quickly, or else he would fall behind all those elite players with power levelers at their beck and call!

Not in the mood to check the website for the official results, Ye Xiu simply inserted in his card and headed directly into the world of Glory. He would just examine the gifted international server cards later when he was not struggling to raise Lord Grim. Finding Little Moon, Steamed Bun, and the others online, he brought them to Boneyard to level. Tang Rou, once she got back, decided to solo dungeons to gain more experience rather than join them.

At almost two o’clock, they received some unexpected guests. Tang Rou glanced up, free of a dungeon at the moment unlike Ye Xiu with his levelling, and offered the man a smile. “Welcome, we’re still open if you’re looking for computers.”

The man looked around at the empty interior, turned around, and called out, “Brother Hao, it's empty! It's safe to come in.”

Hearing ‘Brother Hao’ jolted Ye Xiu from his zone, though he did his best to focus on his game rather than the customers. Hopefully, Tang Rou would take over his duties for a bit? He was in the middle of fighting mobs and teaching noobs.

“Little Leaf, customers.” Well, seemed like his hopes were dashed. Ye Xiu slid his headphones down a bit and brought Lord Grim to safety a while aways from their hunting spot. “I have to do my night shift job for a bit, be right back.”

“Alright, Little Lord!”

“Understood, Brother Expert!”

Ye Xiu brightened the lights around the reception desk and politely asked, “How many guests are with you?”

He easily recognised the four people standing before him but acted as if this was the first time he ever saw them. Chen Yehui, Liu Hao, Wang Ze, Fang Fengran...wait, were their faces flushed? They were drunk! Affronted, Ye Xiu stared up at them with wide amber eyes. They actually got drunk after the match? Their rookie captain actually allowed this?

They couldn’t see Ye Xiu from the angle they entered the cafe, but they could see Tang Rou, causing their eyes to light up. Liu Hao walked up to the very front. Leaning forward over the counter, he stretched his neck to glance at Tang Rou’s screen. Upon seeing the familiar visage of Glory, he laughed. “Sister, you play Glory?”

“Yeah.” Tang Rou did not even bother glancing up at him. Ye Xiu was impressed at the amount of indifference and boredom she infused into her voice with that single word. Due to her beauty, she must have had tons of practice dealing with people flirting with her.

At her indifference, Liu Hao coughed, as if trying to get her attention. Seeing her still ignore him, he attempted to compliment her playing. “You play pretty well! I should know.”

“Thanks.” At this, Tang Rou did look up, but a quick glance at the drunk man before her sent her back to the game immediately.

Liu Hao was puzzled, extremely puzzled! How come she didn't recognise him? He was pretty famous as the Vice-Captain of Excellent Era. Their clubhouse was right across from this internet cafe, too. The lighting shouldn't be an issue since the counter area was well-lit, so...maybe it was because he decided to change up his hairstyle tonight? This was so puzzling. Or...did she not feel awestruck because she saw the match a couple hours ago? That damn brat! This was his fault, for making him look so horrible when controlling Total Darkness.

“Uh, Vice Captain,” Chen Yehui whispered. Wang Ze and Fang Fengran were awkwardly standing to the side, their gazes constantly drawn to the redhead behind the reception desk.

“What?” Liu Hao turned away from the beauty to face his teammates. Doing this, he finally caught sight of the teen sitting to the side.

Ye Xiu casually nommed on a new stick of pocky, his munching echoing in the otherwise empty internet cafe alongside the sounds of whirring machines and typing. “Are you going to use the computers? If not, I will have to ask you to leave,” he saidcasually, a lazy look on his face. Under the dim lighting, his features seemed softer. His face shadowed a bit more, Ye Xiu’s androgynous face was only enhanced.

Oh, that was right; the player behind Lord Grim resided at this Internet Cafe. Wait, didn’t that mean Ye Qiu was here?! He shook his head quickly; this little miss might not have been poisoned by Ye Qiu yet. Imagine the look on that bastard’s face when he stole the guy’s protégé from right under him! Suddenly grinning, Liu Hao asked, “You’re Lord Grim, aren’t you?”

“Eh…” Ye Xiu was about to answer when Tang Rou cut in.

“Why do you ask?” Her eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“My colleague was interested in your potential a couple days back. I’ve seen your hunt for the Goblin Merchant, quite interesting tactics and control! We were thinking of scouting you out later, but how could we have expected running into you tonight. Are you interested in going pro? There’s a place for you at Excellent Era’s training camp,” Liu Hao pitched. “There’s a far better future available for you beyond being an internet cafe manager.”

Ye Xiu adopted a look of hesitation and contemplation. Liu Hao’s grin grew. Ha, see that, Ye Qiu? What can you offer this girl beyond instruction? We can offer her a whole future in the professional league!

“No thanks,” Ye Xiu responded. “Excellent Era still isn’t doing well.”

“What are you talking about?! With our new captain, Excellent Era has turned over a new leaf!” Liu Hao glared down at the redhead.

“New captain? So what. It’s like you guys have no sense of teamwork! You,” Ye Xiu pointed at Wang Ze, “cared too much about being beautiful. Your actions were too extravagant and full of unnecessary actions, making it easy for your opponents to find an opening. Thankfully, you weren’t playing someone like Huang Shaotian, who would have played with you like a cat with a mouse. Simple and practical, that’s all you need. Your tempo is good, very smooth and consistent, so if you would focus solely on victory instead of looking pretty, you would win one-on-one matches more often."

The members of Excellent Era were too stunned to respond. Ye Xiu moved on to his next victim, Fang Fengran. “You, you’re that other Sharpshooter, right? Trust more in yourself. You're not like Zhang Xinjie or Yu Wenzhou, who can calculate strategies and instantly implement them. You take too much time thinking, which destroys any advantage you had in handspeed. Intuition is also a thing, you know? Your intuition has been refined over hundreds of matches, so use it. It isn't as unreliable as you think, so actually trust your first response instead of hesitating so much. Hmph, this is all just basic knowledge, yet you guys still haven’t learned after all these seasons.”

“Hey, who do you think you are?!” Liu Hao shouted, hands flat against the counter as he towered over the redhead.

“And you.” Ye Xiu moved on to the final pro player of the group. “When your captain’s energy was like a rainbow in the second round, did you not realise this? When he was completely relying on his individual strength in the team competition, did you warn him of anything? Did you have a complete plan to deal with Yang Cong’s and Xu Bin’s combo? Aren't you the team's tactician now? You’re lucky he had a lightbulb moment and went to Dancing Rain’s aid, but that did no good when 301 Degrees simply adjusted and targeted you instead. With you occupied by the Grind King, Qi Breaker and Woven Shadows dealt with a 3v2. You should have at least helped your captain monitor the situation and alert him to the discrepancy. Do you believe the drivel about Su Mucheng simply being in the league because of her pretty face? Once One Autumn Leaf relieved Dancing Rain of pressure, he should have immediately backed off and helped the others. Instead, you guys let him chase after a legacy of partnership when he still hasn’t acclimatised to the team well.” Ye Xiu took a sip of his green tea to soothe his parched throat before continuing his lecture. “Could you guys have really afforded to let Ye Qiu retire—retire when he’s far from past his prime?”

“You…” Liu Hao snarled, suddenly reminded of Ye Qiu. Nevermind, this missy was totally corrupted by that bastard. This lecture was exactly similar to the lectures their former captain used to give, though less detailed if only because the guy was lazy.

“Right, the four of you should leave!” Ye Xiu waved them off.

“Hey, what do you think you're doing? We're customers! Give us four computer stations!” Liu Hao yelled. This fucking brat...who did she think she was, trying to lecture pro players when she was just an amateur!

Tang Rou, who had been watching this all happen silently, flicked on the lights and pointed at a sign on the wall behind them with a dainty finger. “I’m sorry, but the Internet Cafe has the right to refuse any drunk people. Please leave and return only when you’re in your right mind. Thank you for your patronage!” Her voice was sugary sweet, her smile bright and cheery. It blasted the four drunk men with its luminosity, causing them to stumble back.

“Uh, beauty, right, we’ll be back! Tomorrow! Probably…” Chen Yehui stammered out, tugging at Liu Hao’s jacket.

“Hmph, not with this missy on duty. You should fire her for being rude to customers,” Liu Hao informed Tang Rou.

“What customers?” If this was an anime, her smile would have caused flowers and sparkles to appear behind her. “This Internet Cafe doesn’t accept drunks as customers, as our right.”

“Ah...umm…” They did have a bit of alcohol, but they were far from drunk.

“Please don’t cause a ruckus and leave quietly. We’ll have to call the police if you refuse to comply.” Hidden in Ye Xiu’s threat was the scandal it would cause if it got out that pro players from Excellent Era were harassing a pair of young women, one no more than eighteen, at a nearby Internet Cafe.

“Fine, but this is not over!” Liu Hao stormed off, the others hesitantly looking back but following their vice captain.

Ye Xiu sighed, thankful they were now gone. “Thank you for intervening, Sister Rou.”

“No problem, Little Leaf. Hopefully we don’t have to deal with them again. If they tried to get rough…” A look of worry crossed her face. Most of the workers at the Internet Cafe were female, and though Fang Shijing was often present nowadays, it didn’t mean he would always be at the Internet Cafe. He was usually back at his hotel in the evenings, unlike tonight.

“Little Lord, what happened?!”

Ye Xiu could hear Steamed Bun even without his headphones properly on. Ye Xiu sent Tang Rou a glance and then slipped the pair back on. “Just some rowdy drunks who wouldn’t take no for an answer,” he explained.

“Then I’ll come over and be yours and Soft Mist’s bodyguard! She’s there too, right?” Steamed Bun called out.

Hearing her name mentioned, Tang Rou greeted him back. “Hello, Steamed Bun. Yes, I’m here too. Don’t worry; you heard us deal with them easily.”

“Mn, but with me there, they wouldn’t dare!”

“Haha, alright, Steamed Bun,” Ye Xiu said. “Let’s get back to levelling.”

“Sure thing, Little Lord!”

“Brother Expert, you’re really rejecting Excellent Era’s offer?” Sleeping Moon finally spoke up.

“Yea, my dreams are far grander,” Ye Xiu replied, eyes hazy with memories.

“What do you plan to do?” Tang Rou asked, curious.

“To reach the Summit of Glory, and then? Wherever the winds take me.” Ye Xiu flashed her a grin, eyes glinting gold. “It’s a new start, after all.”

Chapter Text

Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General → Lord Grim

 

[Topic has been pinned]

 

1st Floor - GloryScribe (Moderator)

 

 

Due to the, frankly, excessive number of reports about Lord Grim, despite the replies we have already given regarding this matter, we will state right here, and right now, that no , Lord Grim has not violated any rules, used any cheats or any bots. And, had you actually bothered to read the rules, it is not a violation of rules to use algorithms to calculate for designing silver weapons, since every pro team does that.

 

(Also, how the **** would a bot generate silver weapons???)

 

Thank you for your cooperation.

 

2nd Floor - HurtingRainbow

 

 

Sofa!!!!!

 

3rd Floor - SunsetDream

 

 

Jfc, what a salty mod >.>

 

4th Floor - ImmersedJade

 

 

I knew it!!! Little great god is amazing!!! q(≧▽≦q)

 

5th Floor - UnspokenWish

 

 

Salty +1

 

6th Floor - CrimsonBlade

 

 

So he isn’t cheating???!!! AAAAHHHHHH

 

7th Floor - BlossomingTulip

 

 

No fucking way??! Holy Shit! That’s… amazing? Like what???

 

8th Floor - DessertDust

 

 

I BET LITTLE GOD WILL GO TO TYRANNY

 

9th Floor - WiltedLeaf

 

 

This is unbelievable

 

10th Floor - LightningGreen

 

 

So much salt +2

I thought mods were meant to stay civil

 

11th Floor - JoyOfLife (Game Master)

 

 

Take a look at the number of reports we’ve received and say that to my face

[1]

 

12th Floor - AshenForest

 

 

HOLY SHIT A WILD GAME MASTER OMG

 

13th Floor - GhostHunter

 

 

Damn, that’s a lot of reports…

 

14th Floor - CrimsonBlade

 

 

They receive reports by email??? No wonder they’re so pissed

 

15th Floor - CloudHaven

 

 

GAME MASTER OMG +1

 

16th Floor - SoaringDragon

 

 

GAME MASTER OMG +2

 

17th Floor - EndlessHope

 

 

YEEEEET I can worship the little god freely now!!!

 

18th Floor - LaughingLord

 

 

I knew it, you suckers!!!

 

19th Floor - SunsetDream

 

 

Jesus Christ, we were just endorsing fair play >.<

But good that he isn’t cheating

 

20th Floor - HatefulMinion

 

 

Un-****-believable

 

21st Floor - HurricaneYellow

 

 

Time to go worship the little great god and encourage her to join Blue RAIN!!!!

 

22nd Floor - BluePrincess

 

 

No way, Blue Rain Monastery 4ever

 

23rd Floor - RiverNymph

 

 

Monastery 4ever +1

 

24th Floor - WaterReed

 

 

Monastery 4ever +2

 

25th Floor - SilverKnight

 

 

Srsly guys? He’s clearly a guy!

 

26th Floor - TroublingMeow

 

 

Monastery 4ever +3

This again? Smh

 

 

125th Floor - linxiao

 

 

ds any1 no where lil god is

 

126th Floor - IridescentBeauty

 

 

That grammar…. That lack of capitalization… that text speech… MY EYES

 

127th Floor - EndlessHope

 

 

I think p far back on their Weibo they mentioned an internet cafe?

 

128th Floor - LaughingLord

 

 

Here, I got it, Happy Internet Cafe

 

TKA Live Action - Happy Internet Cafe

 

129th Floor - RedLitNight

 

 

Jealous of ppl in Hangzhou!!!

 

130th Floor - ConstellationWanderer

 

 

Is sharing the little god’s location really a good thing…

 

131st Floor - SteamedBunInvasion

 

 

There you are, Little lord!!! I’m coming *(੭*ˊᵕˋ)੭*ଘ

 

132nd Floor - HonestEyes

 

 

>.>

??????????

 

133rd Floor - ThievingHeart

 

 

?????????? +1


Ye Xiu stared at his Weibo account blankly. Or, well, the Weibo account the lady boss made to show him off to everyone.

 

For some reason, his fans had increased tenfold overnight, and by tenfold, he really did mean tenfold. He didn’t understand people and their social media…but something told him that this had something to do with Lord Grim.

 

A click to the forums showed that he was, most certainly, correct, and he couldn’t hold back laughter at how utterly pissed off the moderator seemed to be.

 

On a whim, he clicked “reply”.

 

529th Floor - LordGrim

 

 

Thanks, GMs :)

 

Then he clicked out of the thread, only to find that, in that miniscule amount of time, the thread had gained 4 new replies.

 

… Did people have nothing better to do?

 

That was when his QQ started flashing.

 

 

 

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Are you up, Little Leaf? :)
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yeah
What’s up?
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Nothing really
I was wondering if you watched the match against 301
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I did
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Sun Xiang surprised me
I really didn’t expect him to come back
I miss you, Little Leaf
For a moment, it almost felt like you were behind One Autumn Leaf

 

Ye Xiu smiled sadly. It wasn’t really like Mucheng to say something like this, but he wasn’t surprised. She was used to being with him. This was probably the longest time they had been apart for.

 

 

 

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Well, until he proved himself an idiot and went after Scene Killer
And that stunt he pulled on live TV? I couldn’t stop laughing for hours
Tao Xuan is furious
It was amazing

 

Ye Xiu sweatdropped, feeling a little sorry for Sun Xiang.

 

 

 

Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Sweats]
Well, he is just a second year rookie
His mechanics are good
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I agree
Doesn’t change the fact that he’s utterly hopeless, though
Also, I saw the forums
Congrats on getting your name cleared
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
So you saw, too?
Thanks, I suppose
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
You’re a celebrity in the tenth server
Look, I even found this sticker!
[2]
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
?????????
[Dancing Rain has recalled a message]
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Wrong sticker… [Sweats]
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
……………
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[3]
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… Why do you even have a sticker like that?
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
>.<
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
And how did you know???
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yunxiu made it!
Wait what
[Lord Grim has recalled a message]
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
WHAT??? You like Han Wenqing???
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
What? No!
That wallet face?
No way
How the hell
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
No need to be shy with me, Little Leaf
Big sis Mucheng will help you~
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Mucheng, seriously, that’s not what I meant!
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I can’t believe Yunxiu was right!
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
No Mucheng!
Stop!
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Aw… don’t be embarrassed, Little Leaf
The age difference might be a little hard to deal with but
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[4]
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’ll help you!
brb!
Lord Grim (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
WAIT
What are you doing???
Mucheng???
Hello?????

 

While Ye Xiu was trying to deter Su Mucheng downstairs, Ye Qiu was having a very different set of problems upstairs. It wasn’t just Su Mucheng who had seen the explosion in popularity; Ye Qiu had, too, and he was very pissed about people sharing his brother’s location and Weibo around.

But mostly, he was worried.

It was high time he got Lord Grim some protection.

All the way in Guangzhou, there were more people who had their eyes on this thread. Namely, Huang Shaotian, who had been practically stalking everything about Ye Qiu and everything about Lord Grim simultaneously. He had gotten distracted away from Lord Grim by the Beijing debacle, but now, this new thread popped up to distract him away from Ye Xiu.

“Captain!!! Captain! Captain! Captain! Let’s go to Hangzhou!” Huang Shaotian suggested in excitement, “I wanna go and PK this Lord Grim, and, plus, Boss Wei might be there! Can we, please, Captain?”

Yu Wenzhou was about to remind Huang Shaotian that he wanted to go to Beijing, but then thought better of it. That definitely wouldn’t end well. “We’re going to Hangzhou on the weekend to play against Excellent Era. You can go see Lord Grim then.”

“Aw…. fine then…” Huang Shaotian wilted, but then subsequently perked right back up. “Do you think Boss Wei will really be there?”

“We’ll see,” was all Yu Wenzhou replied with.


 

 

 

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Hey :)
Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
What with the lack of enthusiasm?
Aren’t you happy to see me?
Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
What do you want?
Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Well :) About Ye Qiu…


Ye Xiu, being Ye Xiu, soon forgot about the misunderstanding he had with Su Mucheng about liking Han Wenqing and moved onto greener pastures. Specifically, Glory (like always).

“So we set a limit, that Excellent Era’s pro players failed to break?” Fang Shijing asked, a little confused when Ye Xiu explained what had happened regarding the Frost Forest dungeon record that morning.

“Yes.” Ye Xiu nodded.

“Was there… really a need? All this, for the Frost Forest dungeon record?”

“Of course. I need to establish my superiority,” Ye Xiu said dryly.

Fang Shijing discretely rolled his eyes.

“Hm… is Steamed Bun not on?” Ye Xiu murmured to himself. And that was when yelling suddenly erupted from the front of the internet cafe.

“LITTLE LORD, I’M HERE!!!”

The shout nearly made Ye Xiu fall off his chair.

That was… that was Steamed Bun’s voice, wasn’t it? He stood, shocked, looking at the figure at the door.

Standing at a towering height, a blond, long-haired delinquent blocked the doorway, a narrow-eyed look of concentration on his face and a couple of steamed buns in a plastic bag held in his left hand.

The delinquent, who was probably Steamed Bun Invasion, looked around at all the stunned faces before his gaze landed on Ye Xiu. His face broke into a wide smile, and he ran over like an excited puppy.

“Little Lord! You’re short!”

 

Ye Xiu: …….

Ye Qiu, who had been sitting to the side, still furiously searching for protection for his brother, finally recovered from his shock and stood up. “Who are you? And what do you want with my brother?” He pushed Ye Xiu behind him protectively, glaring at the much taller Steamed Bun.

Steamed Bun blinked in surprise and then grinned. “You’re Little Lord’s brother? I’m here to be his bodyguard! I’m Bao Rongxing, but everyone calls me Steamed Bun! Nice to meet you!”

“Bodyguard?” Ye Qiu glanced at Ye Xiu in confusion, who shrugged helplessly.

“Yes! I’ve sworn to protect the Little Lord and Sister Soft Mist from all harm that may befall them! You can count on me! No one will touch a single hair on their heads while I’m around!” Steamed Bun patted his chest proudly.

Ye Qiu scrutinized him for a moment before nodding in satisfaction. “You’re hired! Protect them well.”

“Aye aye, boss!” Steamed Bun saluted.

“Wait,” Ye Qiu suddenly said, “How good are you at Glory?”

“I’m just a noob under Little Lord!” Steamed Bun replied enthusiastically.

“Hm….” Ye Qiu rubbed his chin in contemplation before headed towards the still stunned Chen Guo, presumably to talk to her about Steamed Bun.

Ye Xiu shook his head to clear it. “Uh, anyways, glad to have you, Steamed Bun… I guess?” He murmured the last part under his breath, still extremely confused. “We’re about to go dungeoning, just grab the seat next to Sister Rou—-uh, Soft Mist.”

Steamed Bun’s eyes lit up and he darted towards Tang Rou. “WOW! You’re really pretty! Ahhhhh, but I’m not sure who is prettier, Little Lord or Sister Soft Mist!”

Tang Rou blinked at him before laughing softly, as Ye Xiu sat back down with a roll of his eyes, putting on his headphones. “C’mon, c’mon, let’s go practice!”

Fang Shijing and Ye Xiu spent the afternoon teaching the two newbies and preparing them for Boneyard, making Seven Fields and Sleeping Moon depressed at their own skill. After that, Ye Xiu sent Tang Rou off to solo Frost Forest, showing her how to best utilize her skills so that she wouldn’t run out of mana, and had Steamed Bun grind points in the arena.

A while later, Ye Xiu received yet another friend request, this time from a Hateful Sword. He deleted it, just like he did with all the friend requests he received. However, this person was persistent, constantly sending Ye Xiu friend requests. It was irritating, to say the least.

“Hi God,” came the greeting when the friend request was accepted.

“Hi, you are?” Ye Xiu sent back.

“Do you have an open spot in your party?”

“What party?”

“Er, aren’t you always setting dungeon records? Don’t you have a set party?”

“Oh that,” Ye Xiu typed, “Not really. Just a couple of friends who join in whenever they have time.”

“Oh, then can you bring me along? I’m pretty skilled.”

“You haven’t told me who you are yet,” Ye Xiu typed with one hand, chewing on some pocky.

“Does that matter?” came the reply.

“I guess not. I suppose you can go spar with Steamed Bun Invasion. We don’t have any open spots for dungeoning though.” And he didn’t feel like teaching another noob.

Then Ye Xiu closed the window and continued levelling Lord Grim, with Steamed Bun updating him on the fight with Hateful Sword. It wasn’t long before Hateful Sword came to find him again. Unfortunately for Hateful Sword, Su Mucheng had come online, meaning that their party of five was complete again.

“Sorry,” Ye Xiu typed, “No space. We have five people already. I suppose you can just level with us in the wild.”

And so they levelled….and levelled…and continued to level…

Ye Xiu glanced at where Plantago Seed was, wondering what the hell he was doing. That guy had been watching them level for a while now, did he not get bored? It seemed, however, that Plantago Seed had not come to ask for a dungeon record to be set or anything like that, considering the six other players with him.

Ye Xiu began to suspect that they would be attacked.

“LORD GRIM!!! Pkpkpkpkpkpk!”

“Urgh,” Ye Xiu groaned. The sudden shout had made him jump, causing Lord Grim to make a weird movement. What the hell did Huang Shaotian want? From the opposite direction of Plantago Seed and the others, Huang Shaotian’s Flowing Tree came running over. “Don’t you have anything better to do than bullying normal players?” Ye Xiu sent to him. “By the way, I think Wang Jiexi is over there.”

Huang Shaotian immediately fell silent, looking over around. “Wang Jiexi??? Where???” He didn’t immediately see Plantago Seed’s form, but it turned out that Ye Xiu didn’t have to point it out to him, for that was when one of the people with Plantago Seed, Fiery Blaze, darted out, his friends in tow, and launched a Magic Missile at Soft Mist.

Tang Rou, having her back turned, didn’t notice until the attack hit and was shocked by this. She clearly had never experienced a wild PK before.

“Damn that Wang Jiexi, it’s my turn to PK!!!” Flowing Tree launched himself towards Fiery Blaze even as Tang Rou charged in retaliation. Tang Rou was clearly no match for the other, though, easily getting knocked around—at least, until Flowing Tree arrived.

“Hey!” Ye Xiu called out before sighing. He guess it really couldn’t be helped. Tiny Herb and Blue Rain got along like cats and dogs, after all.

Steamed Bun tried to go to Tang Rou’s aid as well, but another Witch, Weeping Crow, quickly intercepted him. Fang Shijing’s Titanic joined in with the fray as well as Hateful Sword, after a moment’s hesitation.

“God, who are they?” Hateful Sword sent.

“No clue,” Ye Xiu replied, blowing Ghostblade White Night Black Day right into Battle Mage Cloudy Heavens with a Falling Flower Palm. From afar, Cleansing Mist was blasting everyone and everything with her range advantage, and Ye Xiu’s Myriad Manifestations Umbrella quickly transformed into gun form to keep the Sharpshooter Fallen Angel on the other side occupied.

It was Screen Cannon. A favorite of theirs while in Excellent Era, and though Cleansing Mist was still low levelled, Su Mucheng was good enough that the lack of high levelled skills wouldn’t affect her ability to execute this playstyle.

She easily made everything hard for their attackers, and even Fiery Blaze was having trouble now, especially since Flowing Tree seemed fixated on getting rid of him first.

In the corner of Ye Xiu’s eye, the lone Assassin of the other group seemed uncertain what to do and unable to be of much help to his teammates, yet he quickly darted away, locking onto Cleansing Mist as his target. Ye Xiu raised an eyebrow, turning the muzzle of his gun swiftly towards the Assassin, who was planning on executing a sneak attack on Cleansing Mist.

It wasn’t that Ye Xiu didn’t believe in Su Mucheng’s ability to deal with the Assassin, it was more than it would be too disruptive to the kind of support Su Mucheng was currently giving.

With Ashen Moon in his sights, Ye Xiu acted quickly, wanting to get back to dealing with that Sharpshooter.

With three bangs, Anti-Tank Missiles flew forth in a tri-shot formation.

Chapter Text

Anti-Tank Missiles was an easily recognisable skill, primarily because of the sound it made upon activation. The Assassin wasn’t unskilled, recognising and managing to dodge the tri-shot. However, that also drew Su Mucheng’s attention to him.

“Sister Rou, the Assassin!”

Tang Rou hadn’t been having much luck against the Witch that was, presumably, Wang Jiexi. She had scored a few hits, but even against Huang Shaotian with Su Mucheng supporting, that Magician was clever enough to have dodged most of Tang Rou’s attacks. Thus, Ye Xiu directed her towards the Assassin. She was the closest, after all.

Tang Rou immediately switched targets, charging towards Ashen Moon and causing him to panic. This allowed Su Mucheng to return to her wide ranged support.

Steamed Bun was holding up against Weeping Crow, if only because of Su Mucheng’s support, but it was clear that the other was above his level. Thankfully, he had Sleeping Moon and Seven Fields backing him up as well, and despite Weeping Crow’s skill, it looked like he was having a hard time keeping track of all three of his opponents, especially with the occasional cannon fire.

Meanwhile, Fang Shijing and Hateful Sword were holding off in a sort of 2v3 against Cloudy Heavens, Fallen Angel, and White Night Black Day. Hateful Sword seemed to be close to death, and didn’t seem to cooperate well with Fang Shijing, who was doing pretty well, thanks to his experience.

The corner of Ye Xiu’s mouth twitched into a grin of excitement, and Lord Grim charged, catching Cloudy Heavens off guard with a successful Sky Strike. It was time to see how his hand speed was…

“What the hell? Is that Vanishing Step?” Fang Shijing suddenly burst out, pausing to stare at Ye Xiu’s actions. Cloudy Heavens was being juggled around in midair, completely helpless.

“Yup,” Ye Xiu chirped, cheerful.

“Aren’t you bullying them a little too much?” Fang Shijing found the time to send a sweat emoji.

“Nah… they’ll be fine,” Ye Xiu waved it off.

With a final Circle Swing, Cloudy Heavens was smashed into the ground, dead. Immediately after, Fiery Blaze beat a hasty retreat with his friends following. Ye Xiu had to call Tang Rou and Steamed Bun back when they tried to gave chase, but it didn’t stop Huang Shaotian’s insults from sending them off. “Yeah that’s right! Run! Run you cowards!”

Ye Xiu rolled his eyes before noticing that someone was missing. “Hey, where’s that Hateful Sword guy?”

“Uh? Um, dead, I think?” Fang Shijing replied. He hadn’t really noticed…that guy’s presence was just too negligible.

Ye Xiu shrugged. Oh well.


In another city, a group of players sank back into their chairs, exhaustion radiating off their bodies. Their leader slowly set his headphones down on the table, eyes narrowed. “Song Yunru,” Wang Jiexi called out, his head tilted back slightly.

Nervously, the player behind Tenth Server Guild Leader Plantago Seed stepped forward, book clenched tightly to his chest. After leading the group to Lord Grim, Song Yunru had then made Plantago Seed retreat and merely observe. He was far from matching the skills of the reserve team. “Captain?”

“Establish a working relationship with Lord Grim. If I had not heard his voice, I would have had an 80% certainty that the player behind Lord Grim was Ye Qiu.”

“Yes, Captain, that Lord Grim was too experienced to be just a new player,” Xiao Yun agreed. He added, in hopes of marginalizing his poor performance since he had been the only death, “I wouldn’t place much stock in the rumors. That ‘HatefulMinion’ person didn’t even source where he heard such details. How can we be sure that they’re not making things up? I would put more faith in Lord Grim’s Weibo and videos.”

“I agree.” Wang Jiexi nodded. “At the very least, we’ll keep an eye on him. It would do us no good to be blindsided by whichever team manages to recruit him, if we fail to do so.”

“Captain, what do you think about the player behind Lord Grim? Personality-wise. I know you can learn a lot when crossing blades with a person,” Liu Fei hesitantly interjected, her usual condescending manner gone after that crushing defeat. While most of them had not been killed, if they had stayed, the most certainly would have. They were only able to kill the weakest of the bunch, the one who was barely trying to resist and who was acting as if he played a spellblade instead of a berserker. Obviously, that player was just some spy trying to get closer to Lord Grim to recruit him as well.

“Confident,” Zhou Yebai said, answering Liu Fei’s question instead. He couldn’t let the others raise their status in Wang Jiexi’s eyes while allowing his to stagnate. “She knew what she was doing and had trust in those she was with, in their skills if not their loyalty. She knows all the classes well if she plays Unspecialized, and she must have some serious backing to have a Silver Weapon of all things. That umbrella can’t be anything but a silver equipment. A female player like that will be quite a steal for any team, because those backing her will be sure to follow.”

“Ah...um...Senior, I’m not sure the player behind Lord Grim is a girl,” Qiao Yifan said softly, causing Liu Fei to immediately shift her gaze over to him. Zhou Yebai didn’t even bother. He cringed under her laser-focused gaze, to which Liu Fei simply rolled her eyes and flipped her hair.

“Please, with a soft voice like that?” It seemed like the loss didn’t have that much of an impact on Liu Fei, even if it did leave her somewhat shaken. “How old must the player be to still have a voice that high-pitched if they’re a boy? He can’t be that good that young. Also, do you have something against outstanding female players?” Her voice grew pointed at the end, the topic somewhat of a sore point with her. As one of the few professional female players, she was a strong advocate for gender equality.

“N–no, it’s just that, the videos Captain showed us…” Qiao Yifan trailed off.

“Yeah, no need to be so harsh, Liu Fei,” Gao Yingjie finally intervened. “No one has ever confirmed whether Lord Grim is a girl or a boy; everything online is only speculation.”

“In either case, contact Lord Grim and see if he’s free tomorrow evening for training matches. From what you gathered, Song Yunru, Lord Grim maintains a nocturnal schedule. You all should get some rest. The mental shock from this will render you all ineffectual during afternoon practice if I arranged for training matches in the morning,” Wang Jiexi targeted this sentence at the team of five he had gathered to test Lord Grim, “so you’ll be entering the tenth server in the evenings. If we can’t draw Lord Grim over to our side, we’ll use him as a training tool. That Battle Mage though...her mechanics need work, but her style, and even Lord Grim’s style, is highly reminiscent of One Autumn Leaf’s crude playstyle.” Wang Jiexi looked contemplatively at the scene shown on his monitor, with the colorful group of Lord Grim’s barely visible into the distance. Was Blue Rain already making their move? That Blade Master was definitely Huang Shaotian. His fingers twitched. If Blue Rain of all teams pulled Lord Grim in...


 

Ye Xiu cracked his neck, a yawn escaping his lips. “Hmm...Frost Forest is firmly ours despite all their attempts,” Ye Xiu contemplated when he went to check the leaderboard for the top times. “And I assume Big Eyed Wang is going to be nipping at our heels for the next week at least.”

“Hey, let’s pkpkpkpkpkpkpk!!!” That aggravating voice rang out through his headphones again, making Ye Xiu grimace.

“Oh right, you’re still here,” Ye Xiu grumbled. “I don’t have time to pk.”

“Hey hey hey, what do you mean by that? You’re doing nothing but levelling right now, right right right? Oi, Old Wei, Old Wei, Old Wei, I know it’s you playing that Striker! Why’d you run away last time, huh???”

“Hmph, youngins should not barge into a conversation between their betters,” Fang Shijing drawled. “Isn’t it nearly bedtime for a young master like you?”

“Old Weiiiiiii,” Huang Shaotian whined, even more sure that this was their wayward former captain. “Come onnnnnnnnn, why are you acting so tsun. I know that you miss us!”[1]

Ye Xiu watched as Fang Shijing’s smile stiffened at this. Sensing that a land mine has been stepped on, Ye Xiu frantically tried to find something to divert the conversation. “Oi, Huang Fanfan, if you have time to come on, come help this old man and I grind materials later from Boneyard.” [2] Too bad his attempt diverted his attention instead of Huang Shaotian’s.

“Oh, you plan to do a run of Boneyard Dungeon? Little Leaf, you should livestream it!” Chen Guo interjected. She had been passing by when she heard his proposal. “Something to thank your followers on Weibo for their support!”

“Uh…” Ye Xiu shiftily glanced around for help, only to see Tang Rou and Fang Shijing look away. Steamed Bun had no clue what was going on and was simply giving Chen Guo a thumbs up because anything involved with increasing Little Lord’s popularity was great in his books. “Do we even have enough…” They did.

Well, it wasn’t like they were intending to set a record this time, so just a casual run would be fine for broadcasting. He eyed the Tyrannical Ambition tag that floated above his character. After setting the limit for the Frost Forest dungeon, Cold Night had immediately contracted them for setting the record for Boneyard Dungeon. He hadn’t confirmed anything then, since a lot of things could change by the time he reached level 27.

Going the extra mile to counter Excellent Dynasty had indeed been a fruitful venture. He could easily imagine the huge hit to his reputation if he had lost the Frost Forest record. After all, the growth of Lord Grim’s Myriad Manifestation Umbrella was dependent on these guilds being willing to pay him to set records or steal wild bosses.

“Alright, boss, just give me like an hour or two to prepare. It’ll be at midnight since we need to wait for the dungeons to refresh,” Ye Xiu acquiesced.

Chen Guo nodded firmly. “I’ll go prepare a VIP room! Something like this cannot be done with just anyone audible in the background.” After the Glory GMs responded to the Lord Grim reports that morning, she had seen a drastic increase in traffic, most coming in to gawk at Little Leaf. She was actually glad Ye Qiu had hired Steamed Bun on the spot. He was a great deterrent when paired with Fang Shijing, who she could easily imagine snapping any one of them in half like a twig.

Lord Grim: So if I set a record for Tyrannical Ambition while doing a casual dungeon run, since I’m still in the guild and so are my friends from when we last set Frost Forest…

Cold Night: How much?

 

Ye Xiu smirked and began listing his requirements. For the moment, their negotiations ended on these terms: Lord Grim to receive half the list if the casual dungeon record lasted the rest of the night and the entirety of the list as well as the entirety of the next material requirement list for his equipment upgrade if he agreed to help solely Tyrannical Ambition for the Boneyard Dungeon. He actually rejected Cold Night’s proposal though, even if this would have made things easier for him. Having all the materials he needed so early would be a great boon and less stress-inducing, but he didn’t want to affiliate himself so closely to Tyrannical Ambition. That would more or less confirm to the guilds that he had chosen a side and thus a team—Tyranny.

A niggling thought at the back of his head tried to make itself known, but Ye Xiu easily brushed it off. He managed to argue for the entire list of equipment if he set a record that broke the records across all servers. It was highway robbery, but Tyrannical Ambition was on a roll and wanted to maintain their momentum. What were a few uncommon materials in the long run in exchange for a solid guild foundation in the new server?

After this livestream, he planned to pull the party out of Tyrannical Ambition. The other side already knew his intentions. The bid for the limit record of Boneyard Dungeon would go to the guild who contacted Lord Grim first the moment he reached level 27. By then, five days would have passed, allowing the terror of the tenth server to join a guild again.

Now that everyone was more or less Level 25...Ye Xiu would need to spend the next hour outfitting the rest of the party he planned to take with him on the Boneyard Dungeon.

“Huang Fanfan,” Ye Xiu called out, pulling the Blade Master away from his pestering of Fang Shijing—to the latter’s relief. Acting like Wei Chen, despite prior experience, was tiring.

“You’re up to pkpkpkpkpk now?! Obviously your talk about Boneyard was just to throw this one off, hahahahaha, arena arena arena, let’s go!” Huang Shaotian was well aware of the mirror image of his screen being displayed on a second monitor, everything happening in-game being recorded for future review. A PvP match would be a better gauge of Lord Grim’s skill in comparison to a PvE demonstration.

“Nope, I was just working things out with my boss. At midnight, we’re running Boneyard, so hurry and level to 25, slowpoke,” Ye Xiu taunted, since Flowing Tree was still at Level 24. “Grinding just one level should be fine for a God like you, right?”

“Shhhhhhh,” Huang Shaotian hurriedly said, eyes scanning the in-game map to make sure no one overheard. “I’m here incognito! In–cog–ni–to!”

“Wang Jiexi definitely knows who you are,” Ye Xiu blandly pointed out. “You even called him out by name when going to fight him.”

“Shit shit shit, captainnnnnn, I made a mistake!” Huang Shaotian’s head snapped to the side, his gaze falling on Yu Wenzhou, who was calmly writing notes down in his notebook.

“I know, but I expected you to break cover,” Yu Wenzhou nonchalantly explained without looking up once.

“Captain! Your lack of faith in me!!!” Huang Shaotian pressed a hand over his heart, a look of shock and heartbreak overtaking his face.

Yu Wenzhou ignored him and pitched his voice loud enough to be heard through Huang Shaotian’s mic. “Captain, see what I have to deal with ever since you left? Come back instead of playing around in the tenth server.”

See what you have to deal with? I had to deal with the both of you after that old geezer abandoned the team! Fang Shijing’s smile had vanished by this point in time. A quick glance at his character proved that it was equipped well enough for what Ye Xiu had planned. In a handful of deft movements, he logged out, glad that enough time had passed for his Striker to leave combat.

 


『 Today at 21:45 』

Lord Grim 【V】: I’ll be livestreaming a casual run of the Boneyard Dungeon in the tenth server at midnight.

「Bookmark」 「 13477 Reposts 」 「 6724 Comments 」 「 8375 Likes 」

 


Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Snow Warning muuu, feifei, I liked your livestream! V nice, though your roasts somehow got harsher [sweat][sweat][sweat] what do you have against that rookie captain other than him replacing Little Captain?
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
the fucker stole One Autumn Leaf and HAVE YOU SEEN HIS CLOTHES
TF LIKE DOES HE HAVE NO SENSE OF FASHION IT’S A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
A BLASPHEMY MY POOR EYES AND THEN THE INTERVIEW AT THE END?!?! POOR GIRL, THE GUY IS PRACTICALLY DROOLING OVER HER
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I mean… [sweat][sweat][sweat] they were wearing the team uniform? Fashion-wise…
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
doesn’t matter! istg that guy just rubs me wrong, cocky af and arrogant. Couldn’t even protect Little Mumu properly smh
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
u all 250 [4]
88 [5]
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
???
@forestdrizzle
@forestdrizzle
@forestdrizzle
COME BACK HERE AND EXPLAIN YOU LAZY ASS
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Muuu...xiaoxiao why are you like this qwq
all those years together [tears][tears][tears] and this is how you treat us???
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I should really mute this chat… it’s nearly ten o’clock you guys
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Like you go to bed this early, you workaholic
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
point
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
tf, what is lin xiao...shit
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
??? xuefeng you too??? explain??? why are you all such cryptic bastards???
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@forestdrizzle you found out, didn’t you
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
u tht u cld kp it frm me?
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
^_^ luckily Shijing is already there
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
shit, wxf u fcker y
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
^_^ I’ll see you tomorrow
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
WHAT ARE YOU TWO TALKING ABOUT
YOU KNOW WHERE LITTLE CAPTAIN IS?!?!?!?!!>@?DSJDFBSKDBFAKS
YOU TRAIORS AL;J KFAGHLKSDFHKASDLF GO KYS
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
qwq vice captain, xiaoxiao, whyyyyyy
what did we do to you
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
All’s fair in love and war
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
coming from you? Tch
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
^_^

 


『 Today at 22:47 』

Lin Xiao : @ Ye Qiu fligt jst landed, cya tmrw morn ∇ Melia Jinan Luxury Hotel

「Bookmark」 「 136k Reposts 」 「 66.5k Comments 」 「 78.9k Likes 」

 

『 Today at 23:02 』

Huang Shaotian 【V】 : @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu OLD YE OLD YE OLD YE OLD YE YOU RETIRED ASS WHY ARE YOU IN JINAN NOW WEREN’T YOU IN BEIJING YESTERDAY?!?!?! SHIT I NEED TO GO, FUCK YOU OLD YE THIS ISNT OVER //@ Lin Xiao : @ Ye Qiu fligt jst landed, cya tmrw morn ∇ Melia Jinan Luxury Hotel

「Bookmark」 「 248.6k Reposts 」 「 75.4k Comments 」 「 92.8k Likes 」

 

『 Today at 23:16 』

Xiao Shiqin 【V】 : ...Senior, what’s going on in your mind? @ Ye Qiu //@ Lin Xiao : @ Ye Qiu fligt just landed, cya tmrw morn ∇ Melia Jinan Luxury Hotel

「Bookmark」 「 21.6k Reposts 」 「 54.8k Comments 」 「 87.4k Likes 」

 

Dai Yanqi 【V】: omg XiaoYe?!?!?! CAPTAIN I WILL SUPPORT YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY. DO NOT GIVE UP [加油][加油][加油] [6]

Xiao Shiqin 【V】 :   @ Dai Yanqi 【V】 … don’t get ahead of yourself

ThunderingForever: why do I feel like God Xiao is in denial or lying

 

『 Today at 23:35 』

Su Mucheng 【V】 :  Oh, Ye Qiu always did like the natural springs and lakes there//@ Lin Xiao : @ Ye Qiu fligt just landed, cya tmrw morn ∇ Melia Jinan Luxury Hotel

「Bookmark」 「 102.8k Reposts 」 「 98.7k Comments 」 「 112.7k Likes 」

 

Chu Yunxiu 【V】: Mumu~~~ deets, girl!

Su Mucheng 【V】: [smile][smile][smile] my lips are sealed

Han Wenqing 【V】: …

Su Mucheng 【V】: hehe

   


 

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@forestdrizzle you lying bastard
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
smh that was such a blatant lie
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
wowowowowow xiaoxiao
anything for our little captain, right?
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

748 [7]
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
^_^
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
shit, did you push vice captain too far
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
…GODDAMNIT LIN XIAO WHAT DID YOU DO
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
qwq qwq qwq scaryyyyyy vice captain, don’t smile don’t smile pls pls pls
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
…………
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[facepalm][facepalm][facepalm] why anger the person whose ^_^ has deadlier implications than the current Blue Rain captain’s
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
wait really? Fuck, vice captain 666 [8]
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
yea, that old bastard Wei Chen was sniffing around little captain when we fought Blue Rain back in season 2, his smile sent the guy packing
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
vice captain 666 +1
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
vice captain 666 +2
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
vice captain 748
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… [incense]
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… [incense] +1
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
… [incense] +2
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
:)
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
shit, that’s little mumu’s smile
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
shit, that’s little mumu’s smile +1
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
shit, that’s little mumu’s smile +2
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
shit, that’s little mumu’s smile +3

 


 

System Announcement: Tyrannical Ambition Players Lord Grim, Soft Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Steamed Bun Invasion have set a new time record for the Boneyard dungeon: 23:54.71.

System Announcement: Tyrannical Ambition Players Lord Grim, Soft Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Steamed Bun Invasion have set a new time record for the Boneyard dungeon: 21:32.07.

System Announcement: Tyrannical Ambition Players Lord Grim, Soft Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Steamed Bun Invasion have set a new time record for the Boneyard dungeon: 19:54.68.

 


 

Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General → Lord Grim Boneyard Livestream

1st Floor — SoaringSky

Lord Grim’s doing a livestream for the Boneyard Dungeon!

http://live.weibo.com/show?id=0529666:052901314_Ljla5asd89e2s3

2nd Floor — CrimsonStaff

First kill!

Awesome!!! Definitely watching

3rd Floor — BloomBloom

Lele kill

4th Floor — BloomBloom

More records?

5th Floor — ImmersedJade

LITTLE GOD I WILL SUPPORT YOU

Hypeeeeeeeeeeeee

6th Floor — LordGrim4eva

OMG OMG OMG

GODFUCKINGDAMNIT WHY AM I STUCK ON THE NIGHT SHIFT TONIGHT

555555555[3]

142nd Floor — LaughingLord

jfc those records, back to back

and you can tell the battle mage and brawler are basically noobs too

tf

143rd Floor — HurricaneYellow

that blade master is definitely a fan of our Young Master Huang!

does that mean Little God plans to join Blue Rain!??!?! WILL THE MONASTERY END

144th Floor - BluePrincess

nOPE ISTG

LEAVE BLUE RAIN FREE OF ROMANCE DRAMA

already saw several fave teams from other esport leagues fall apart due to love drama qwq

and don’t you see that she’s setting records for TYRANNY OF ALL TEAMS

145th Floor - DessertDust

TYRANNY BEST TEAM

FITE ME

146th Floor - WiltedLeaf

Pfft, yea right

though isn’t the kid in Hangzhou?

Kek tyranny stealing the kid from right under Stagnant Era’s noses

147th Floor - SilverKnight

Idk, wasn’t she initially setting records for Blue Rain?

And she did say casual run, so she might up and leave Tyrannical Ambition for another guild

148th Floor - HatefulMinion

tch goddamn guild hopper

those records are going to get broken soon anyways

...


A knock on the door tore everyone’s attention away from their celebrations. Each run set a new record, surprisingly. Ye Xiu had expected to only set a record on the third run, yet with Fang Shijing and Huang Shaotian shoring up any mistakes Steamed Bun and Tang Rou made, this venture proved highly successful. Was his luck that good nowadays? Purple equipment as well as the payment of uncommon materials he needed to upgrade Myriad Manifestation Umbrella. In a good mood, Ye Xiu turned off the livestream after thanking everyone for watching.

“Come in.” Ye Xiu turned around to face the door, only to find himself staring at someone he had not expected to see again.


 

『 Today at 23:50 』

Ye Qiu :  Just thinking of the old days @ Wu Xuefeng 【V】 miss you so much

「Bookmark」 「 329.8k Reposts 」 「 288.9k Comments 」 「 186.7k Likes 」

Huang Shaotian 【V】 : @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu @ Ye Qiu COME OVER HERE AND EXPLAIN YOU BASTARD!!!!! OLD YE OLD YE OLD YE STOP IGNORING MEEEEEEEE AKJLSDFHALW FUCK I NEED TO ACTUALLY GO NOW, YOU BETTER ANSWER ME WHEN I GET BACK OLD YE ALJDFKA;SDLHA

Yu Wenzhou 【V】: Senior…? ^_^

DreamingGold: omg Ye Qiu posted?!?!?!?!

Gu Yifei 【V】: ??!?@!?!@?!@?#@!?@#$?!@

EternalAutumn: MY SKIN IS CLEAR. MY CROPS ARE THRIVING. THE SUN IS SHINING. THE BIRDS ARE SINGING. EVERYTHING IS BLESSED BECAUSE GOD YE POSTED AHHHHHH

Lin Xiao : ……………………………………..@ Wu Xuefeng 【V】748

Han Wenqing 【V】: …………………………………………….

Li Xuan 【V】: hacked?

GloryRocks: OMG SO MANY GODS!!!!! IS THIS THE POWER OF GOD YE?!?!

Dai Yanqi 【V】: wAIT SO IT’S WUYE?!?!?! DAMNIT I WANTED XIAOYE WHO IS WXF AND HOW COME HE GETS GOD YE’S WEIBO VIRGINITY

Zhou Zekai 【V】: ꒰๑•̥﹏•̥๑꒱

Jiang Botao 【V】: Senior, Captain is very distressed and would like an explanation

Su Mucheng 【V】: :) hehe

Chu Yunxiu 【V】 : @ Su Mucheng 【V】 do we need to reconsider our sisterhood, this betrayal hurts, mumu, right here. why aren’t you telling me anything ( ´•̥̥̥ω•̥̥̥` )

Lin Jingyan【V】 : @ Dai Yanqi 【V】Wu Xuefeng is the former vice captain of Excellent Era and won three championships alongside Ye Qiu before he retired after season 3

Dai Yanqi 【V】: omg they have history?!?!?! Ahhhh what to ship qwq I CAN’T DECIDE

LeafingThroughLife: does anyone else feel as if their three worldviews have been shattered? [9]

 

Chapter Text

 


Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu OLD YE OLD YE!!!!!!!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THOSE GRANDPAAAAAAS!!!! @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu

Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Be quiet.

Swoksaar (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Shaotian, it’s past midnight already. Everyone is sleeping.

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
you can’t tell me you all don’t wanna know too!!!!!
YE QIU YOU BASTARD ANSWER MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu @Ye Qiu

Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX


Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Dancing Rain @Dancing Rain @Dancing Rain @Dancing Rain tell me WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THAT BASTARD’S HEAD!!!!!

Vaccaria (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[1]

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
FUCK YOU WANG JIEXI GO SWEEP THE FLOOR WITH YOUR BROOM

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
what do you want?

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
THERE YOU ARE NOW WTF IS GOING ON HUH??? I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
how would I know? i’m not a mind reader


Ye Qiu (XXXXXXXXX) has muted Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX)


Firebird Messenger (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
!!!!! it’s God Ye!!!
prprprprprpr [2]
God Ye look at meeeeee!!!

Life Extinguisher (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Calm down, Little Dai….
And why aren’t you asleep?

Firebird Messenger (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
emmmmmmmmmmmm
gnite, cap’n! o7

Bullet Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
FUCK OLD YE YOU THINK YOU CAN GET RID OF ME SO EASILY???
@Ye Qiu @Ye Q se sdrjogsr
That was… stressful…

Vaccaria (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
What happened to Huang Shaotian?

Swoksaar (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
^_^

Doubtful Demon (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

[Incense]

Stellar Sword (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense]+1

Ignis Fatuus (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense]+2

Windy Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense]+3

Dancing Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense]+4

Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
+5

Moon-Luring Frost (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense]+6

Carved Ghost (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Incense]+7


Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) has unmuted Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX)


Vaccaria (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I am curious though, why would senior do such a thing?

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
i can’t believe I’m saying this but EXACTLY YOU GET ME WANG JIEXI
why, right??? i don’t get it at all, it was totally out of the blue!!!!

Crying Devil (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
hacked?

Carved Ghost (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
who let huang shao off his leash again?

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
leash!!!??? I’m not a dog you asshole pkpkpkpkpkpkpkpk!!!!

Doubtful Demon (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Calm thyself, Lady Wu

Carved Ghost (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
fuck off

Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
FITE ME!!!!!!!!!!!


Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) has muted Troubling Rain (XXXXXXXXX)


Desert Dust (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Shut up.
If you’re going to discuss, do it in the morning.

Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[Clap]

Empty Waves (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Captain, bedtime, or else you won’t be able to wake up for training tmr

Cloud Piercer (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
o7


 



Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Fuck!!! Have you seen what’s going on on weibo????

Vodka’s Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
vice captainnnnnn~ whyyyyy that was def you who dropped a bomb like that qwq
first xiaoxiao, now you???? do we count for peanuts????
[3]

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I feel betrayed!! @Ultramarine Daybreak

Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
we are all honorable members of The Shrine™!!
how COULD YOU!!!

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Why is everyone making plans alone??????
That shit Lin Xiao too!!! Bringing unwanted attention on our smol captain!!

Vodka’s Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@forestdrizzle xiaoxiao 55555 [4] why are you ignoring us????? i know you’re here, don’t be like this QAQ

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@forestdrizzle Get the fuck out here, if Little Lei says you’re lurking, you’re def lurking around the chat like some sort of evil spirit!

Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ultramarine Dayreak and don’t think we’ve forgotten about you!!! “miss you so much” TF?!?!?!

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Why the fuck is that lazy shit Lin Xiao trolling the other pros. What is he planning this time???

Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Hmm? :)

Vodka’s Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
vice captainnnnnn explain right now!!!!!!


Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
What can I say? Smol captain misses me~

Vodka’s Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
!!!

Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
don’t say that shit!!

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
It was clearly you!!!!!

Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Well, what are you all waiting for? It’s already late as it is. Even that fucking sloth Lin Xiao was quicker than you guys
G fucking G

Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX


Vodka’s Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
...

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
What does he
Omg don’t tell me…

Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
LIN XIAO YOU LITTLE SHIT!!!!!! @forestdrizzle @forestdrizzle @forestdrizzle


    


 

 

“Lin Xiao?”

 

 LX

 

Ye Xiu did a double take. He had half a mind to take off his glasses and make sure Ye Qiu didn’t switch the lens with something weird in his spite.

 

“Hey, Little Captain.”

 

But no, the person in front of him was indeed Lin Xiao. He would recognise that sloppy and dishevelled form anywhere. A lock of black hair was tossed to the side with the offhand salute he directed at him. Ye Xiu swivelled his chair around to properly face him while Lin Xiao carelessly dropped his messenger bag on the floor. It was only then that Ye Xiu realised that he was dragging something else with him.

 

Ye Xiu’s eyes widened, “Brother Xiao, is that… a baseball bat?”

 

“WHAT?!” At the mention of a baseball bat, Steamed Bun was immediately on full alert, scrambling out of his chair to slot himself solidly in between the intruder and his precious Little Lord. No, no, no. Nobody would bring harm to his charge, not while he was here. Nope, not under his watch!

 

With the most intimidating voice he could muster, he asked, “Who are you?! How do you know Little Lord!”

 

Behind him, Ye Xiu sighed, getting up from his seat to put a calming hand on Steamed Bun’s shoulder. “Down, Steamed Bun. He’s an old friend.”

 

“But Little Lord! He has a baseball bat!!”

 

“Oh, this?” Lin Xiao suddenly brandished the bat like a sword, making everyone jump. “Eh, it’s to keep those flies away,” he explained, a disconcertingly serious look on his face. Steamed Bun looked like he took great offence with the motion. How dare he swing a weapon like that near Little Lord! Just when he was about to go wrestle the bat out of the man’s hand, Ye Xiu clapped him on the shoulder again. The teen shook his head at him. “I got this Steamed Bun.”

 

Stepping forward, Ye Xiu took the time to really look at Lin Xiao. It had only been five years since he had last seen him, yet he could see white strands of hair intermingling with his black locks. He still stood with the same slouched posture, and apparently still didn’t bother to tidy up his shabby clothes. Ye Xiu offhandedly mused that Mucheng would wail if she saw the stubble on Lin Xiao’s jawline now, seeing as she used to pester the older man to clean up properly in the past. People tended to underestimate him because of his unkempt appearance, but Lin Xiao was actually the fiercest among his old teammates when provoked. The perpetual bored expression on his pretty face made people think he wasn’t paying attention when in fact, he was very aware of his surroundings, and very much eavesdropping on the conversations around him, filtering them for information gathering.

 

Ye Xiu never thought he’d be seeing so many old friends so soon. He had a niggling suspicion that it might be Mucheng’s work. Actually, scratch that. It was definitely Mucheng’s work. He made a mental note to talk to her about it soon.

 

“First Fang Shijing, now you. Am I to expect more people showing up soon?”

 

Lin Xiao made a show of tilting his head and smiling innocently.

 

Ye Xiu was unimpressed. “What? Are you people so bored that you’re stalking me now?”

 

At the word ‘stalk’, Steamed Bun looked ready to tackle Lin Xiao to the ground, but Ye Xiu tossed him a warning look before he could even lift a finger. Steamed Bun immediately deflated like a scolded puppy.

 

Chp 21

 

Lin Xiao looked on the scene in amusement. “So stern, Little Captain. I came all the way here just to see you. Where’s my welcome hug?”

 

“You guys still call me that?” Ye Xiu raised an eyebrow dubiously. Truth be told, he never thought he’d hear that nickname again. He had always assumed his old team called him that as a practical joke because he was the youngest at the time, but he guessed the moniker stuck, even after all this time. “But knowing you, you probably never left the area,” because it’d be too much work to move—Ye Xiu thought but didn’t voice—not that I don’t understand why, with how much Mucheng, Muqiu and I used to move at the time.

 

Lin Xiao hummed but didn’t answer right away. His grey eyes lazily swept over the room in front of him, scanning every person present. They were all still looking at him suspiciously, what with the baseball bat still in his hand and all. He then noticed a familiar face.

 

“Hey, Fang Sh— ”

 

The door behind him suddenly burst open.

 

“IS EVERYONE OKAY?!” All heads turned to stare bewilderedly at Chen Guo who looked like she had run a marathon, panting and gasping, eyes wide and wildly roving over all the occupants in the room. Her eyes then zeroed in on the only stranger present.

 

“YOU—!”

 

“Me?”

 

“—FREEZE!! I’M CALLING THE POLICE!!” She threatened, pointing the muzzle of the fire extinguisher she had dragged in with her at Lin Xiao.

 

One of her employees then came scrambling in behind her. She held out a phone to her. “Boss, I already called them. They’re on their way!”

 

Lin Xiao was at a loss, but the menacing tone in the woman’s voice compelled him to raise his arms up in surrender. The action made him realise just what was the source of her panic. He quickly dropped the bat as if it were hot iron. The rod fell with a loud clang.

 

For a moment, everyone stood still, unsure of what to do. Nobody dared to speak up first, afraid that they might get sprayed over.

 

Chen Guo was the first to lose her composure.

 

“What is this!! Why isn’t anyone reacting?! How can you all be so calm!! A man just barged in with a weapon and nobody is alarmed by it?!?!” She screeched, pointing the muzzle at each and everyone in her frustration.

 

“Who the fuck are you?!” Emboldened simply from the fact that Lin Xiao dropped the bat and didn’t seem like he intended to move, Chen Guo stepped in front of him and jabbed him in the chest with the fire extinguisher. “How dare you just come up here looking for Little Leaf!! Are you a kidnapper?!”

 

Right then, the door was banged open again.

 

“What the hell is going on here?!” Ye Qiu appeared at the doorway, a steaming paper cup in his grasp. He looked a far cry from the Ye Qiu everyone saw earlier in the day, eyes bloodshot, hair slightly ruffled and his usually neat clothes had a few wrinkles now. It was clear that he badly needed the caffeine.

 

Ye Qiu locked eyes with Lin Xiao who looked as if he had just seen a ghost. “What is this I hear about a kidnapper?” Golden orbs narrowed in accusation, misinterpreting the look for someone who has just been caught red-handed, “Not with me here! I’ll make sure you rot in prison and never see the light of day ever again, you piece of sh––!”

 

“Hold on!” All heads turned to Ye Xiu who took the brief moment of surprise to step in front of Lin Xiao.

 

“Everyone, calm down! This is Lin Xiao, one of my good friends. He’s not a kidnapper or anything like that!” Ye Xiu explained, desperately on the lookout for any signs of violence. These guys are more trouble than they’re worth! Ye Xiu cried in his heart. How he wished nobody would jump to the wrong conclusions yet again. Come on, it was starting to get ridiculous!

 

Chen Guo didn’t look convinced. “Xiao Lan told me a shady looking person just suddenly appeared at the front desk, looking suspiciously around the café. He asked where you were, and when she refused to give your location, he changed tactics, and asked if there was a second floor to the café. He fled up the stairs after receiving the affirmative! It was only then that Xiao Lan noticed he had a baseball bat with him! Who comes into an internet café with a baseball bat without any bad intentions, huh?!”

 

Ye Xiu blinked. Okay, it was a bit hard to redeem Lin Xiao given the situation. He tossed him an annoyed look. The lazy man better be grateful he’s trying his best not to get him kicked out.

 

“Brother Xiao has always been a bit awkward. He doesn’t have much social skills. Fang Shijing can confirm!” Sure, he’s trying his best to help, but eh, it was always easier to pass the ball to someone else in these kinds of situations.

 

Everyone’s attention were riveted on Fang Shijing. Poor man looked like a deer caught in the headlight, but he quickly recovered. He coughed lightly in his fist to hide his embarrassment, and explained, “Right. He’s an introvert. He’s the type that won’t say much, and look like he isn’t paying attention to you, but will flame you big time if you get on his bad side.”

 

Chen Guo’s eyes widened. “What?! So he’s here for revenge?!” She shrieked, brandishing her so-called-weapon towards Lin Xiao once again.

 

Ye Xiu had the sudden urge to facepalm. He threw an accusing glare at Fang Shijing who simply lifted his arms up, and shrugged.

 

“No, no! Boss, calm down! Don’t misunderstand! Brother Xiao is cool. He’s actually an ex-pro-player from Excellent Era! Why don’t you get an autograph from him?” Ye Xiu actually felt desperate enough to resort to appeal to Chen Guo’s overbearing fangirl side.

 

“An ex-pro from Excellent Era? Hmm, makes sense now.” Ye Xiu turned to see Ye Qiu leaning heavily against the door, looking like he was two seconds away from falling asleep on his feet.

 

Lin Xiao had an unreadable expression as he kept glancing from Ye Qiu to Ye Xiu.

 

“Okay, since I now have an official name and an official place to look for necessary information, goodnight. It’s way too late for all this. I don’t know how you all still have this much energy. You guys are monsters.”

 

With a slight wave, he was gone.

 

Ye Qiu’s words seemed to do the trick. Chen Guo lowered the fire extinguisher. Everyone else seemed to relax too now that the tension was dissipating. Steamed Bun still looked on high alert but otherwise, kept still and didn’t voice any protest. Tang Rou, however, had a mysterious glint in her eyes.

 

“Why does he call you Little Captain?” She enquired, ever the more perceptive one.

 

Ye Xiu stalled for a moment. Did he just unintentionally give himself away? As expected, Tang Rou was sharp, and picked up on even the smallest of his blunders. Lin Xiao suddenly threw his arm around his shoulders.

 

“Little kid here is Little Captain because he’s just too amazing. Have you seen his plays? Damn, I can’t help but have total respect for him. Amazing at leading people too, hence, the title.”

 

Ye Xiu’s knees almost bucked under the weight of another arm draping over him from his other side.

 

“Hey, hey! Where’re your manners? Don’t you have any sense of personal space?” The red head protested, but Fang Shijing paid him no mind, instead making sure his arm also reached across Lin Xiao’s shoulders.

 

“Lin Xiao, my old friend, it’s been so long! Did you miss babysitting Little Ye here so much that you are using his old nickname? He was such a cute little thing, I’d give you that.” Fang Shijing’s tone was light and pleasant, but Ye Xiu had seen how focused his eyes were. He was clearly trying to pass a message.

 

Lin Xiao spluttered. Babysitter? What? What was Fang Shijing on about?

 

“Ahaha and is all that grey hair from missing and worrying about your little charge?” Ye Xiu could feel how Fang Shijing’s grip on Lin Xiao was steadily becoming tighter and tighter from how the latter’s shoulder was shaking.

 

“Uh…” Honestly, Lin Xiao was at a loss, but the pointed look Fang Shijing fixed him with over Ye Xiu’s head finally made things click in his mind.

 

“Ah, Little Captain, how’s Little Mumu doing? She’s the one who told me where to find you.”

 

Ye Xiu blinked up at Lin Xiao questioningly. What are these guys up to now? He hadn’t been able to see what Fang Shijing was trying to convey to Lin Xiao because of his height. Oh, how he hated his shorter stature!

 

“Uh, she’s fine. She’s still at Excellent Era as you know.”

 

Lin Xiao nodded approvingly. “I miss the times she’d come drop you off––” He was cut off by the door suddenly being savagely thrown open again.

Ye Xiu felt the urge to facepalm return full force.

 

Who was it now?

 

Seriously, can’t a guy play Glory in peace?

 

All he was asking were some quiet and a computer. Was it too much to ask?

 

Ye Xiu sighed, and turned his head to look at the door…

 

…only to do a double take as people in black spilled in like ants, batons in hand.

 

“POLICE!! NOBODY MOVES!!!”

 

And Ye Xiu facepalmed.

  

 


 

      

That morning, Ye Qiu set out on a mission.

 

Because this couldn’t go on! He had stepped out of the café for barely 10 minutes last night, and another weirdo had already showed up! What was this?! He knew his brother was quite quirky himself, but to stir up such a storm in the Glory community – both in-game and in real life – was just ridiculous!

 

Fine, then! Desperate situations called for desperate measures.

 

And so, Ye Qiu went on his merry way with a vengeance. He had important business to attend to, and no one and nothing – not even his pride – would be able to stop him.

 

He actually had two important things on his To-Do-List that day. The first has already been taken care of with minimal difficulty, thank god, because god knows he’ll be encountering trouble at almost every corner thanks to his wonderful twin.

Ye Qiu tightened his grip on the suitcase he was carrying. Nestling safely inside were the contracts and keys to the newly bought apartment complex. It was really more of a condominium than an apartment complex, complete with a penthouse on the top floor – and a greenhouse, miniature garden and infinity pool on the roof – and equipped with the latest security system; because Ye Qiu never half-asses things when it comes to Ye Xiu. Ever. He’d rather die than continue having his idiot brother live in that filthy storage room. Who knew what Ye Xiu could contract there, with all the dust flying about. His brother was delic––

 

Ahem.

 

His brother was a fool who didn’t know how to take proper care of himself!

 

And let’s not forget about all those lunatics who keep popping up like weeds! Happy Internet Café has also seen a drastic rise in its clientele since everybody and their mother now knew where Lord Grim resided. The bolder ones even insisted Ye Xiu sign them an autograph and take a souvenir picture. Thank the heavens that Steamed Bun was actually a decent bodyguard who effortlessly scared those crazy fanatics away with the help of that beefy guy. Fuck! He was going to sue these people for that shameless breach of privacy! As from now on, he would keep Ye Xiu under lock and key. No way will he risk his twin getting kidnapped by a random maniac! Otherwise, what will Mother and Father do if the heir just disappeared like that!

 

Nodding to himself, Ye Qiu rounded the corner to his next destination. Now that the lodging issue has been taken care of, he had to tackle the next task on his list. After taking a deep breath to steel his resolve, Ye Qiu stepped inside the building. His ears were immediately assaulted by typing and clicking sounds, and the occasional chatter resounding about. This internet café was not much different than the one Ye Xiu was working at. It was smaller, but it was perfect for the purpose he was here for. Most importantly, it was located far, far away from Happy. Ye Qiu wasn’t sure if his now almost non-existent dignity would be able to handle the blow if anyone he knew caught him in an internet café, and much less caught him in the middle of what he came here for.

 

With a sigh, Ye Qiu stepped to the front desk and presented his ID, or rather, Ye Xiu’s (which he had conveniently borrowed – more like stole, but in his defence, the midget had stolen his first – while the latter was busy snoring the morning away). He was aware that in places such as an internet café, his name was famous, and he didn’t want to deal with another case of mistaken identity, not after last time’s fiasco.

 

Ye Qiu ambled on to the computer station he was designated to. He made sure to rent one in the VIP section which was located in a separate room. Sitting down, he put on the headphones… and just stared blankly at the screen. The innocent Glory icon sitting in the margin seemed to be mocking him. Ye Qiu narrowed his eyes at it. With a burst of irritation, he double clicked on it, and glared as the Glory interface opened.

 

Never in his life had he ever thought he’d be playing this cursed game, but here he was, sitting in front of a computer, the Glory logo cheerfully greeting him.

 

He swiftly inserted the account card he had bought the other day – on that godforsaken day – and pulled out his phone. Thumbing through the forum, he skimmed the threads again to make sure he didn’t miss any detail. Satisfied, he turned back to his screen where his character was waiting for his commands.

 

Thus came the next big hurdle. Ye Qiu may or may not have forgotten that he had no idea how games worked. Okay, it went without saying he didn’t know how to play, but his pride had stopped him from asking for help because there was no way he’d ask help from his asshole of a brother and his crazy entourage! Besides, he was supposed to do this incognito.

 

“Ah! To hell with it! It can’t be that hard!” Ye Qiu growled, and just tapped randomly on his keyboard. Since he bought a fully levelled 70 character, he didn’t have the privilege to have the beginner tutorial pop up on his screen as soon as he logged in. Needless to say, he wouldn’t even know how to pull up the in-game guide even if he was aware of its existence.

 

“Urg! What is this?!” His screen was now filled with various windows overlapping one another. In one, he could see a list of some sort, another looked blank, and the one in the forefront had a lot of empty squares. Ye Qiu frowned. He quickly pressed the ‘Esc’ key. He, at the very least, knew how to close windows.

 

He tried another attempt, and this time, he was greeted with the character’s avatar. Ye Qiu was unimpressed. Well, at least the guy looked handsome and regal with a sword and cape. How did the seller call the class again? Sword master? Blade expert? Something like that. Ye Qiu was starting to get impatient though. How did one move in this game?? How was he supposed to get to the Heavenly Domain like this?!

 

The obvious way, in Ye Qiu’s mind, was to use the directional arrows to move, but Ye Xiu clearly never touched those, and if anyone asked how he knew that, Ye Qiu had not been observing his brother to learn by watching the latter play. Never. His twin’s screen was always a dizzying mess of spins and turns, anyway. It was not like anyone could learn anything from that.

 

He kept telling himself that a game can’t be that hard!

 

The spacebar was the next thing he pressed. Ye Qiu blinked when his screen jumped. Well, it’s not what he was looking for, but it was a start. Looking down at his keyboard, he debated on what to try next…

 

… Perhaps the ‘Enter’ key?

 

Tap.

 

Nothing.

 

Ye Qiu raised an eyebrow. He decided to try a few other keys.

 

Nothing.

 

What?

 

Spacebar.

 

Nothing.

 

Spacebar again.

 

Still nothing.

 

What?!  How could this be?

 

It.

 

Just.

 

Freaking.

 

Worked.

 

EARLIER!!!

 

Ye Qiu felt a vein throb on his temple.

 

How can his brother love this stupid game?!

 

“Fine!” His fist slammed on the keyboard in fury.

 

Suddenly, he saw his character’s name pop up onscreen.

 

It’s Not Like I Care : urzq  kl]n#;[]p

 

“What?!”

 

How the heck did he activate the chat????

 

And what the fuck was up with that name?! He was so going to sue that seller!!

 

Looking down, he noted his fist was pressing several keys at the same time. No way to know which one did this, nor did he have the patience to find out by trial and error. When he lifted his fist up, he saw the ground suddenly rushing to his face.

 

Then, the screen went all black.

 

Ye Qiu closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He took a deep, deep breath to calm himself.

 

Defeat. Utter defeat. He pulled out his phone. He gave up. To hell with it! He was not so proud as to refuse to learn from the internet.

 

“Hey, buddy, you okay?”

 

Ye Qiu jumped at the sudden voice. Who? He looked around wildly but saw no one. Only then did he realise the voice came from his headphones. Wait, you could make voice calls in-game? But he didn’t accept any calls, nor did he get any notification – not that he would have noticed anyway, not with his tragic skills in Glory, but nobody needed to know that – unless…

 

Ye Qiu blanched.

 

…unless it was the game’s mechanics to have the mic on by default. Now that he thought about it, Ye Xiu did talk a lot while playing. Fuck! And he's been cursing nonstop for the past 10 minutes! What would Mother say if she got wind––

 

“Hey, you there?”

 

Ye Qiu looked up at the completely black screen.

 

“Ah. Are you speaking to me?”

 

You’re the only person around so, obviously.”

 

“Right. I can’t see you at the moment. My screen’s all black.”

 

“Well, duh. You’re laying flat on your face. You don’t see anything? No shit, Sherlock!”

 

Ye Qiu felt his face grow hot. “I––!” But what could he say? That he just started playing this stupid game for not even 15 minutes, and he had no clue of what he was doing? No, his almost murdered pride wouldn’t allow it!

 

“Ha! Are you one of those stupid noobs who think levelling up the normal way is beyond them and just straight out buy a fully levelled account and think they’ll be the next Glory god next season?”

 

Ye Qiu was offended. He didn’t even want to play this shitty game––

 

“But it’s not like you care, huh?”

 

––in the first place!

 

Wait.

 

Did that bastard just use this stupid avatar’s name to make fun of him?! Ye Qiu saw red.

 

“I have my reas––!”

 

“Of course. They all do.”

 

“I reall––!”

 

“Ppffff, but I can’t say it’s not entertaining watching you fuckers flail around!”

 

“I didn’t ev––!”

 

“Ahaha! You shitheads think you’re all so clever!”

 

Can you stop interrupting me?!

 

The line went silent. Ye Qiu took the opportunity to calm his rising temper. He rubbed his temples and took a deep breath to control himself. He’ll never touch that fucking game ever again after he was done with this! Not even with a ten foot pole!

 

“Who are you?”

 

A snort. “You won’t even know me, why tell you?”

 

Fair enough. “I’m trying to get to the Heavenly Domain. Is it far from here?”

 

Another snort. “Buddy, you’re already in the Heavenly Domain. Can’t you even read map names?”

 

Ye Qiu felt his ears burn at the insult, but kept his tongue in check. “I’m looking for someone named Furious Arrow. Do you know where I can find him?”

 

“I may or I may not. Anyway, I have some place to be.”

 

Ye Qiu heard footsteps walking away and panicked.

 

“Wait! I heard he’s a famous... vigilante of some sort here. Is that true?”

 

He really was not ready for the booming laugher that followed. He quickly pulled down the headphones, but kept one side close enough to hear whatever the guy would speak next.

 

“What? Him? A vigilante? AHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Gotta be the best joke of the year!!”

 

“He’s not? All the forums overflow with his feats.” Ye Qiu winced when the laugher only got louder.

 

“I’ll tell you what, buddy, he trembles at the mere mention of my name. He’s nothing! Nothing compared to me at least!”

 

That picked Ye's Qiu's interest. “Oh? Are you any good?”

 

The man clucked his tongue, and Ye Qiu could practically hear the grin in his voice when he said, “Any good? You bet I'm any good! Not bragging, but I'm probably the best around here!”

 

Ye Qiu mulled his words over. The headache he was nursing was steadily getting worse. He was pressed for time, and fed up already. The guy claimed to be the best, and implied Furious Arrow – the person he had spent a good few days researching on – couldn’t even compare to him. What was the risks? Could he really trust his words? Was he willing to take such a gamble?

 

After internally debating for a moment, Ye Qiu made a decision.

 

“Congratulations. You're hired.”

 

There was a brief choking sound before, “Wait, what?”

 

   


   
     

At the same time, a figure had appeared in front of Happy Internet Café.

 

Pulling out his phone...

 

 


Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
:)

Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
TKA Live Action - Happy Internet Cafe[5]


 

The man smirked. Without waiting for a reply, he slipped his phone back in his pants’ pocket, and stepped inside, where a familiar pretty face greeted him with a soft smile.

Chapter Text

A pebble falling into the sea creates a waves at thousands of levels. This pebble was currently oblivious to the waves made in his wake, immersed in the Boneyard dungeon to create a dungeon record.

 

“Glory is really big nowadays,” Tang Rou commented via her character, controlling Soft Mist to end the lives of a number of zombies. “I think I saw someone with a French ID!”

 

“Huh, really? Where?” Fang Shijing began to manipulate his Striker’s camera about. Behind him, the second BOSS Zombie Bailey lumbered forward, an unstoppable undead glacier...

 

“The Exorcist in red, Vieillard Sous La Lune. Sounds like someone made an account to be a wingman or something.”

 

“OMG you spoke French!” A Brick whizzed past. “Sis Tang is talented!”

 

“Steamed Bun, focus!” If Lord Grim could emote, a vein would be popping in his temple. “Sis Tang, Circle Swing!”

 

Soft Mist executed the Circle Swing then, blinking as the hulking glacier of Zombie Bailey was somehow tossed away by her slender lance, against the square-cube laws governing mass and volume in real life. “Vieillard Sous La Lune… that’s French for Yue Lao.”

 

“It sounds like someone was trying to name a character after Sailor Moon and picked the wrong translation,” Fang Shijing complained. “‘In the name of the Moon, I’ll punish you’, totally got the shojo vibe, only it’s an old guy holding the red string… now that I think about it-”

 

“Old Fang, die over here and aggro the BOSS, we’re still studying the dungeon! ” [1]

 

“Language, Little Leaf~” Fang Shijing pursed his lips.

 

“Eagle Stamp!!!”

 

The move of the same name landed on Zombie Bailey’s face. “Say, what happened to the new strategy?” Fang Shijing commented. “You said that we could deliver this BOSS elsewhere?”

 

“We missed the angle… and you just killed the BOSS...”

 

“...”

 

“...” Ye Xiu took a deep breath. “Unless Yue Lao strangled you with the red string or Red Girl is throwing DPS peach blossoms at you, getting distracted in a low-level dungeon is a complete shame as a former pro!”

 

“Erm… Little Leaf-”

 

“Shove it.”

 

“I wonder what Tu’er Shen as a BOSS would look like,” Steamed Bun broke the beat of silence from the wake of Ye Xiu’s curse.

 

Fang Shijing was the first to break the pause. “Fu-”

 

“Probably uses his legs a lot,” Steamed Bun continued. “Bunnies run fast, too, so they probably got good leg strength.”

 

Black lines immediately appeared on Ye Xiu’s face ( ̄_ ̄|||).

 

How could he have forgotten about this living treasure? He had better step in, otherwise Steamed Bun might actually type in the world chat once more and the shitty devs would get a new idea, and the next Qixi event might actually involve the event dungeon Silver River Magpie Bridge, with mini-BOSS Red Girl, final BOSS Yue Lao, and wild BOSS Tu’er Shen…

 

...and here his imagination was already running wild. Only Steamed Bun would ever manage this.

 

“...Steamed Bun,” Ye Xiu said after a long while, “next time, I’m hooking you up against this chatterbox I know, and you’re going to out-talk him.”

 

“Yanno,” Fang Shijing piped up, “I just recalled, I called a healer over to help out instead of griefing newbies.”

 

“Hah? We don’t need a Cleric!” Ye Xiu immediately cursed back.

 

“Believe me, we’re gonna need the healing god.”

 

“...” Ye Xiu pondered about it. “Fine. Only because he hits like a DPS.”

 

“You only say that because he was the only guy in the Alliance who outplays you in the Paladin.” Fang Shijing sighed. “Too bad about his… little joke…”


At Boneyard, a five player party had also just finished their record-setting runs at Boneyard. In the party was the IDs White Night Black Day, Fallen Angel, Cloudy Heavens, Ashen Moon, and Weeping Crow. After running it three times, the five players’ expressions were all quite embarrassed.

 

“Second place…” their nominal leader Xiao Yun controlled the Battle Mage Cloudy Heavens to peer around. With their pro-level skill, making a time with such a large gap compared to the record really did make them somewhat speechless. The five players were even a bit terrified.

 

“Captain…….” One of the players turned his head and looked at the person behind him, Tiny Herb’s team captain Wang Jiexi.

 

“You guys played well.” Wang Jiexi said.

 

The five players looked at one another.

 

“Your strategy wasn’t correct, that’s all.” Wang Jiexi said. “The other party’s strategy may be in the testing stages still.”

 

The five players looked at one another again.

 

“Oh? So then we should study it?” One player said.

 

“You’re going to waste your precious time on this?” Wang Jiexi’s remark cut in.

 

“……”

 

“Go find Lord Grim.” Wang Jiexi said.

 

“And then?”

 

“Kill him once, and then go to bed early. This will be one of your main exercises in the future.” Wang Jiexi said.

 

Hence the reason why the substitute half of Tiny Herb’s players were currently waiting outside of Boneyard. To be more accurate, only one character was on high alert -- the Assassin, Ashen Moon.

 

“Go intercept him!” Xiao Yun had ordered.

 

“I…….” Qiao Yifan stared blankly.

 

“What a handsome little man,” someone crooned, right next to Qiao Yifan’s ear.

 

The hairs on Qiao Yifan’s neck prickled, the Assassin Ashen Moon rolled away. The voice was of course from inside the game -- Glory’s voice system judged closeness according to the distance between characters. The closeness of the voice only meant that somehow, someone’s character had been standing behind Qiao Yifan all this time, and he had not noticed them at all.

 

However, Qiao Yifan had no time to notice or even care about this seemingly low-level mistake -- a scythe was already headed his way. Exorcist, Qiao Yifan concluded. The DPS of the Priest superclass, possessing speed above the other three classes.

 

Qiao Yifan had heard of griefers, but this was possibly the first time being hunted by one, and in a new server at that. However, he was still a professional, even if he has yet to debut at all. He made a Shining Cut, which was an extremely fast Assassin skill, which was immediately blocked by the other player’s scythe.

 

This one move already made Qiao Yifan lose confidence, especially as the robotic face of the red-dressed Exorcist faced the camera directly. Already the edges of Qiao Yifan’s screen interface was fading to black…

 

Fading to black? Qiao Yifan’s heart fell.

 

Hypnosis!

 

Hypnosis inflicted a Sleep status on the target, but it required the caster to face the target and it was a Cleric-exclusive skill?

 

Wasn’t this… Vieillard Sous La Lune... an Exorcist? A healer was toting around a weapon?!  

 

Ashen Moon moved, breaking the Hypnosis mid-cast, jumping up. As the scythe flew forward under the low-level Exorcist skill Spiritual Guidance, Ashen Moon jumped to one side, narrowly avoiding a decapitation.

 

Air Jump!

 

“I have no idea that trying to pull a ‘I'm in charge of this mountain and these trees, please pay the fees if you would like to pass’ has such violent reprisals nowadays,” the Cleric disguised as an Exorcist commented as the scythe flew back to the character’s hands. “Herb Garden, yes? Don’t you know that it’s impolite to stalk people online?”

 

Lord Grim’s group! Qiao Yifan’s heart thudded in his chest. Ashen Moon had dodged the seemingly unavoidable blade, but already Qiao Yifan was terrified. This timing and placement was not normal! Actually, the offensive power of this Cleric was completely beyond expectations!

 

Qiao Yifan’s hands were rushed and muddled. He already lost his rhythm was now subconsciously trying to dodge attack after attack. Even Vieillard Sous La Lune was playing around, throwing normal attack after attack.

 

Gao Yingjie, who was sitting next to him, saw that the situation wasn’t looking good for him and was even panicking on his behalf. He hurriedly yelled: “Hang in there!”

 

“What? Yifan’s not a match?” Zhou Yebai and Liu Fei both turned their heads to look at Qiao Yifan’s screen.

 

“Rising Emblem!”

 

The floating blue circle appeared as Vieillard Sous La Lune tossed up his scythe as well. Qiao Yifan had just finished inputting a series of commands, and Ashen Moon had just deployed a Teleporting Stab. However, his heart sank as the scythe turned into a falling star that smashed into Ashen Moon.

 

Star Fall!

 

A Paladin low-level skill, usually used to pull mobs. Now, though, the blue ring of Rising Emblem formed a target, for which the falling star smashed into Qiao Yifan’s suspended Ashen Moon.

 

Air Jump came off cooldown, and Qiao Yifan made to jump again, but then his screen which depicted a night scene suddenly brightened with the glare of burning fireworks close-up.

 

Cleric skill, Angel Wings...

 

Qiao Yifan pressed a different key, and Ashen Moon executed a Diving Arrow. The attack did not land, as expected, but Ashen Moon reached the ground and escaped. The first to arrive was Xiao Yun’s Cloudy Heavens, who threw out all seven of the Neutral Chasers which were on his character.

 

The scythe came out with a horizontal slash, smacking against all the Chasers. The moment they came into contact, the blade shone with white light, and the Chasers swerved in the direction of the swing like scattershot.

 

Paladin skill: Halo Smash!

 

“Is this guy a Cleric or a Paladin!” Xiao Yun burst out, using a Double Stab as Vieillard Sous La Lune descended in a sudden big stride forward.

 

Angel Wings was cancelled, and the scythe’s sudden downward swing knocked Cloudy Heavens back. It continued forward as its owner let it go, almost as if under its own power to push back Cloudy Heavens. Then, at the furthest range of Spiritual Guidance, the talisman attached to it exploded in a fireball which ate at Xiao Yun’s health before the scythe flew back into the hands of Vieillard Sous La Lune.

 

“Downward Charge, Repel, Spiritual Guidance, Blazing Talisman…” Vieillard Sous La Lune then glowed. “...Recovery?! Run!”

 

“Huh?” All the others in the team swerved their heads in real life to look at Xiao Yun.

 

“Vice-Captain!” Xiao Yun had already paled. “Someone tell Captain that Vice-Captain Fang is griefing in the tenth server!”

 

A little-known secret in Tiny Herb was that their former Vice-Captain, famed as the God of Healing, had a tendency to grief. And this was no ordinary griefing; Fang Shiqian’s lesser-known habit involved picking a Cleric account, outfitting it with an intense mix of offensive and support skills and an offensive weapon, and then killing any characters outside a selected dungeon like some deranged scythe-wielding serial killer. Since the association of scythes with Exorcists was so ingrained in the public consciousness, few people ever realised that the character which they thought of as an Exorcist was actually a healer, a Cleric with short legs and few offensive skills.

 

Furthermore, Fang Shiqian did not differentiate between friend or foe in his online murder sprees. Xiao Yun would know, because he had once seen Wind Guard murder Vaccaria.

 

This side of Fang Shiqian was therefore referred as the Fallen Angel - the skills of the Priest superclass bent to the opposite purpose of taking lives.

 

Chapter Text

The familiar voices drew Ye Xiu away from Glory, his brother’s voice being most distinctive though he could also hear Lin Xiao’s lazy drawl. The third voice, however, felt achingly familiar, like an old friend’s whom he hadn’t seen in years. His eyes drifted away from the screen and flitted toward the door; since his shift had already begun, he was seated at the front desk. Right in front of him was a new sign Chen Guo had placed yesterday: “Do not disturb employees without due cause.” This mainly happened because Ye Xiu was so annoyed at how many times he was interrupted yesterday that he just up and left for a private room to play, regardless of it being his night shift. Chen Guo hadn’t been able to begrudge him either considering the harassment had exceeded her tolerance too.

Ye Xiu’s eyes drifted over his brother and Lin Xiao to focus on the final person of the trio. Upon seeing the person, his mouth fell open, his glasses sliding down his nose slightly. His gaze drank in the sight before him: dark, slightly long hair swept to the side by the breeze, piercing brown eyes seemingly aged beyond the owner’s years. It was the warm, barely-there smile that he recognized first, though. A quick glance at the monitor told him that the party was simply loitering at the end of the dungeon. He was still putting together the new strategy to set the limit for the Boneyard Dungeon, so all of their runs were falling short of the records they had set a day ago.

Without another second of hesitation, Ye Xiu sprung out of his seat and ran up to the man standing to the side, arms wrapping tightly around the man. “Brother Xuefeng,” Ye Xiu breathed out, his head tucking into the other’s chest slightly when he felt arms embrace him back. “You’re back?”

“Mn, I am, Little Captain,” Wu Xuefeng softly said, ducking down to breathe in Ye Xiu’s scent. His eyes widened when he couldn’t smell any nicotine like he had been expecting, causing his gaze to fly over to the side and meet another’s gaze. Nodding in thanks, he received a shrug in reply and a gesture toward everyone else present in this little group. So it was a group effort, huh? Made sense, it takes far too much effort to keep Little Captain healthy, Wu Xuefeng mused.

“I see how it is,” Lin Xiao commented, arms crossed. “Always Vice-Captain first, right?”

Ye Xiu loosened his hold on Wu Xuefeng to glance over at Lin Xiao and simply flashed a mischievous smile. “Of course, who else would feed me?”

“Like Vice-Captain can even cook; he just had everything delivered,” Lin Xiao retorted back. “What a drag, having to do so much work before being able to spend time with Little Captain.” Lin Xiao draped himself over Ye Xiu’s shoulders, though he had to bend down to reach.

Wu Xuefeng rolled his eyes and twisted around, causing Lin Xiao to stumble back or else he would fall to the ground. “I can’t believe I missed you yesterday when I came by,” Wu Xuefeng said, looking down at Ye Xiu. “You really shouldn’t keep such an unhealthy schedule.”

“I work best at night,” Ye Xiu replied simply, eyes still half-lidded as he basked in the warm embrace. He felt like he was young again, back when he first established Excellent Era. He would have nightmares then, of Su Muqiu’s death. He hadn’t wanted to alarm Su Mucheng, so he had forced himself to silence his screams. Wu Xuefeng had found out, however, and told him to come to him if he needed some company. It had taken Ye Xiu a while, but when it began affecting his playing, he had conceded and dragged Wu Xuefeng out at night for hot chocolate and midnight ramblings. Ye Xiu revealed a fond smile and received one in return.

“That’s what you claim,” was all Wu Xuefeng said in reply, a hint of exhaustion still present in his voice.

Ye Xiu frowned when he heard it but kept quiet. His former Vice-Captain was probably still tired from jet lag; if Su Mucheng had really contacted him out of nowhere for help, then he must have rushed everything to get here. Fang Shijing had arrived nearly a week before Wu Xuefeng did, at the latter’s behest too. He wondered what job the other was working now, having never asked. All he knew was that Wu Xuefeng wanted to go abroad for more than just studying.

While the two reunited, the rest of the group were observing them silently. It seemed as if Ye Xiu had deaged several years, shocking the others in the room. Tang Rou exchanged looks with Chen Guo, who had popped in just moments ago. This was Little Leaf? He acted so young now compared to before. Who was this man?

Chen Guo narrowed her eyes, examining the man before her. How come he looked so familiar? When she registered that annoying Lin Xiao’s presence again, a flash of revelation streaked through her mind. “You’re–you’re Wu Xuefeng, former Vice-Captain of Excellent Era!” she exclaimed, eyes wide. Ye Xiu and Wu Xuefeng looked up and turned to face Chen Guo, who flushed upon realizing how loud she was.

Tang Rou’s eyebrows flew up. This was the man Chen Guo respected so much for being able to stand as equals with Ye Qiu? She swept her gaze over his body, not bad looking and fashion conscious at the very least. Her gaze flitted over to his other companions. Ye Qiu, not the God Ye Qiu but Ye Xiu’s older brother—she still remembered Chen Guo’s scream of frustration long ago when she realized she had found a Ye Qiu but not the Ye Qiu she admired. The guy could barely recognize Glory; neither of the women held any belief that he was actually God Ye, not any more at least.

She wondered how come Ye Xiu knew so many former Excellent Era players, however. His sister wasn’t that high up in the club, was she? Cleansing Mist was a really good player, so she might be. Thoughts whirled around in Tang Rou’s mind, connections being formed and discarded.

Ye Qiu stepped forward and glared at Wu Xuefeng, silently telling him to let go of Ye Xiu. In response, Wu Xuefeng simply pulled Ye Xiu back into a tighter embrace. Only when Ye Xiu squirmed did Wu Xuefeng release him from his hold. “Brother,” Ye Qiu began, “considering the...circumstances...that have arisen, I went ahead and bought an apartment complex for you with the highest security protocols possible. There’s enough room for your friends as well. Mr. Wu and Mr. Lin have already signed leases after I showed them around.”

“What,” Ye Xiu deadpanned. He grabbed the briefcase Ye Qiu was offering and flipped it open, eyes rapidly scanning the several papers present as well as packets full of what he assumed to be keys. “You really didn’t have to. The room I have here is fine. All I need is a place to sleep and play Glory.”

“You want to leave your...sister alone at Excellent Era?” Ye Qiu muttered lowly, careful to keep his voice pitched so his words were only audible between them. He knew Ye Xiu better than his idiot brother thought; he was more concerned about Su Mucheng being alone at Excellent Era than he was at being forced out of the team he helped build up. His idiot brother was a sacrificial idiot, after all.

“No…” Ye Xiu replied, pouting. With a sigh, he shelved the impromptu haze of childishness that befell him and went to tuck the briefcase away. “Old man, can you set up a computer for Brother Xuefeng and Brother Xiao,” Ye Xiu called out before ducking into the backroom. He needed to talk to Su Mucheng later, too. Hopefully, she wasn’t busy.

“Isn’t that your job, brat?” Shaking his head, Fang Shijing jerked his head to the empty seats within the row Ye Xiu’s party had acquisitioned for themselves. “You brought your cards, Xuefeng? Or do you need new ones, too. You, Lin Xiao?”

“You’re playing a Striker now?” Wu Xuefeng asked in amusement even as he pulled out a tenth server account card from his wallet. “I already bought myself a Qi Master account before arriving here. Lin Xiao, on the other hand, already has multiple alternate accounts if I’m not wrong.”

“Yeah, yeah, I do.” Lin Xiao plopped down into the nearest seat. He tapped a short sequence down on the table, causing Wu Xuefeng’s eyes to narrow. We need to have a talk later, without prying ears.

Wu Xuefeng nodded, recognizing the old code, and took a seat beside his former teammate. Ye Xiu had returned by then and caught the exchange as well. He caught both their eyes and nodded to acknowledge that he wanted in on the talk, too. Wu Xuefeng and Lin Xiao were not reassured with the lost and tired look faintly visible within Ye Xiu’s eyes but, having already decided to leave things alone at the moment, both remained silent.

“Little Lord! So this guy is also your brother?” Steamed Bun finally spoke up, surprising Ye Xiu with how long he had remained silent.

“Ah, yes, Brother Xuefeng took care of me the most whenever my sister was busy,” Ye Xiu automatically responded, a bitter taste in his mouth once he realized how easy the lies were coming now. He really wasn’t happy about the situation; too many lies were piling up. His past life was getting too close to his current one now; if he hadn’t deaged, he wouldn’t have cared. But since he had, he now had to deal with that rookie Sun Xiang of all people chasing after him, with Blue Rain and Tiny Herb recruiting him, and who knew what else.

“So...do I need to protect him, too?” Steamed Bun asked. “And your older brother? I’m going to need help! I can’t be everywhere at once.”

Ye Xiu sweatdropped. “Brother can take care of himself, unless a desk job had him slacking off on his training.”

“Unlike you, I like being healthy and fit,” Ye Qiu retorted. He glanced at his watch. “I need to leave, but expect some help in that game of yours soon. I can’t leave you alone at all, can I, idiot brother of mine. Always attracting trouble.”

“It’s not my fault trouble loves me,” Ye Xiu said. “Wait, what help? What did you do now?”

Ye Qiu simply tossed a hand up to say goodbye and left, causing Ye Xiu to frown—read pout—in annoyance.

“There’s no need for you to protect me...Steamed Bun, was it?” Wu Xuefeng said. He glanced at Fang Shijing. “I can take care of myself.”

“Right, so just pretty boy then?” Steamed Bun quickly shifted gazes to Lin Xiao. “You look pretty weak without the baseball bat, and you shouldn’t carry one around Little Lord either!”

“...” Lin Xiao stared blankly at Steamed Bun, reminded suddenly of another person who was equally passionate and irritating—though in a different manner. “Your first priority is Little Captain,” was all he said, to which Steamed Bun nodded eagerly.

“Oh right, Old Fang, where is that healer?” Ye Xiu asked, returning back to the front desk.

“Uh...probably in the middle of griefing some poor souls.” Fang Shijing opened up QQ to send the guy a message. When he simply got a 「(◕‿◕✿)」  in response, he resisted the urge to facepalm. “Yea, he’s busy for now. He won’t need much help to adapt to your strategy anyway, so just let him have his fun for now.”

“Retirement not suiting him?” Ye Xiu snickered but nodded. Even if he didn’t really know Fang Shiqian well, he did respect the guy’s skills as both a healer and a DPS. Plus, his way of messing around with new players resonated well to his own habit of playing around with others. “Brother Xiao, do you happen to have your other accounts on hand? I want to play around with a new strategy, but Lord Grim already ran out of chances for Boneyard.”

“Battle Mage?” Lin Xiao asked, already pulling out a case of cards. On his monitor, a Mechanic account named Forest Drizzle was loaded up and ready to start.

“Give that to Sister Rou. I’ll play...Sharpshooter.”

This drew sharp looks from those in the know. Nonetheless, Lin Xiao handed over a level 25 Sharpshooter account, a female one with the name Zephyranthes. It took Ye Xiu a moment to understand why the account was named as such, especially since Lin Xiao was not the type to dedicate much attention to naming accounts. After all, this was the guy who probably had a Mechanic account in each server named Forest Drizzle.

“You always did have a soft spot for Mumu,” Ye Xiu murmured. Zephyranthes, otherwise known as rain lily, rainflower, fairy lily, zephyr lily—a flower of the wind and rain.

Lin Xiao simply looked at Ye Xiu with fond eyes before shunting his expression into a look of blankness. Eyes closing briefly before opening again, he flicked through several more cards and pulled out a Battle Mage, Striker, and Brawler, all level 25. He handed those over to the others before entering the game and maneuvering himself to Boneyard Dungeon, passing by the chaotic battle taking place nearby. His brows furrowed slightly when he recognized it was a Cleric at the center of the mess, wielding a scythe of all things—like a grim reaper there to claim the souls of newbies. He made a mental note and moved on toward the others. He could assuage his curiosity at a later time.

Sharpshooter, Zephyranthes.

Battle Mage, Wintry Harbinger.

Brawler, Drunken Moon.

Striker, Azurite.

Mechanic, Forest Drizzle.

Qi Master, Vermillion Blaze.

Ye Xiu couldn’t stifle his laughter when he saw the full party, his eyes alight with mirth. “Brother Xiao, never change.” He only got a chuckle in response and a comment that since the party was full, Lin Xiao would keep watch outside. Ye Xiu nodded and led the rest into the dungeon.

Fang Shijing rolled his eyes but didn’t bother retaliating. Being given a female avatar didn’t bother him much. Likewise, Tang Rou didn’t care that she was controlling a male avatar now. Steamed Bun didn’t even seem to realize the provocation, which made Lin Xiao’s actions pretty ineffectual if it wasn’t mainly to draw a laugh from Ye Xiu. Wu Xuefeng’s stories and depictions were quite accurate; Lin Xiao was a pain in the ass unless Ye Xiu was present to distract him.

Successfully escaping work, Lin Xiao controlled his character over toward that chaotic battle from earlier, making sure to stay far out of detection range but still close enough to observe.

So this was the famed Battle Cleric? Still barely out of his prime, unlike Lin Xiao and the other retirees. Absentmindedly, Lin Xiao wondered what caused the guy to retire instead of aiming for a consecutive championship. Seeing the battle begin to die down, each flailing newbie falling to the reaper’s blade, he pulled up QQ and searched through his contacts, somewhat glad he never bothered to clear it out.

 

 

forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
yo, hf?
Moonlight (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
what do you want

Blunt, cold—yep, he is definitely in his Fallen Angel state, Lin Xiao thought in amusement.

 

 

forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
jst mking smll tlk
‘s bn a whle, hyd
Moonlight (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
alright, now you ruined my mood with your horrible texting
what are you up to now, don’t think I have been blind to the chaos you started
I didn’t think I would get a text from Big-Eye out of nowhere asking me if I’m free to drop by a hotel and take a look around because of Old Guo of all people, and then a text about checking out Jinan because of you
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
heh, dn’t u thnk sth is sus
Moonlight (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
talk

Lin Xiao smirked.


She stole quietly into the cafe, hair covered with a baseball cap once again. A dark red scarf hid her face this time, however, and she was bundled up in thick clothes suited to brave a far colder winter night than the current one. When Ye Xiu saw her enter, he coughed into his fist and motioned for her to sit beside him.

“Little Leaf~” she greeted softly. She took a brief glance around, her eyes lighting up when she saw some old friends. “Brother Xuefeng? Brother Xiao? Is that you, Fang Shijing?”

“Little Mumu, you’ve grown up well.” Wu Xuefeng walked up to pull her into a hug, whereas Fang Shijing simply clapped her on the shoulder.

“Did Ye Xiu have to beat guys away?” Fang Shijing commented.

Su Mucheng laughed and shook her head. “I can deal with them myself. The threat of pulling the aggro of the Battle God—that I leave for special occasions.”

“Little Flower,” Lin Xiao greeted. Su Mucheng pulled free of Wu Xuefeng’s embrace and wrapped her arms around her fellow beauty of Excellent Era.

“Brother Xiao, still as pretty as ever?” she teased, even as her raised hand skimmed against his stubbled jaw. “Aw, you were finally able to get some stubble. What happened to our pact?”

Lin Xiao rubbed his jaw in thought. “Little Captain can replace me. He’s far prettier.”

“For the last time, I’m not pretty, Lin Xiao,” Ye Xiu replied subconsciously even as he maneuvered his character, a Blade Master this time, through the Boneyard Dungeon. “Huh, so a strike at this angle might work, but the timing would have to be pretty precise,” he muttered. He typed up a quick note on a document before going back to testing. After just a few more runs, he felt he would have the new strategy figured out.

“The fact that you’re getting hit on in-game so often is a cause for concern.” Without a hint of remorse, Fang Shijing threw Ye Xiu under the bus. Wu Xuefeng, Lin Xiao, and Su Mucheng zeroed in on that comment. Su Mucheng knew Ye Xiu was drawing attention—she followed his Weibo and the forum threads, after all—but she didn’t know it was bad enough for Fang Shijing to take note of it.

It was like a jigsaw piece clicking into place. Her eyes narrowed. “Wait, that ‘redhead cutie’ Sun Xiang was referring to, he was talking about you?” This caused the others to become alarmed. “When did you meet up with Sun Xiang of all people? I told you to stay on the down-low!”

Ye Xiu wilted under Su Mucheng’s reprimand. “Mumu,” he started, only to get cut off.

“No, I will not allow him to ruin this new opportunity for you!” She was incensed. Su Mucheng was the type to smile brighter at any slight toward her or her loved ones. The brighter her smile, the worse her mood was. Right now? Her smile rivalled the sun in its luminosity.

“He doesn’t know it’s me!” Ye Xiu exclaimed. “He just...I don’t even think he realizes I play Glory, or that I’m the user behind Lord Grim.”

“Except he also announced to the world that he’s interested in you, that you’re the reason he tried to continue partnering with Little Mumu,” Lin Xiao drawled, mind flashing back to that interview he had seen.

“I don’t approve,” Wu Xuefeng stated, leaving it at that.

Fang Shijing didn’t comment at all, but under the dim lighting, his muscles seemed far more imposing than before. Ye Xiu still didn’t understand how Fang Shijing can bear wearing a sleeveless vest and tank in the middle of winter, but this was also the guy who regularly spent hours at the gym—even more so than Han Wenqing since the other had to train for matches still.

“I...there was free food and labor,” Ye Xiu muttered, turning back toward the game and ignoring their intense gazes.

At this, everyone’s gazes shifted toward Lin Xiao, who offered up a sheepish look. Okay, so maybe it was his fault that Little Captain adopted such an attitude, but how could he have known that Little Captain was that impressionable back then?

“If you wanted food, you could have just asked one of us. Just because I’m stuck at Excellent Era now, doesn’t mean we still can’t hang out like we used to,” Su Mucheng said, her smile tucked away and replaced with a look of fond exasperation.

“It was a spur of the moment? It happened right before your match against 301 Degrees,” Ye Xiu explained. He pulled a stick of pocky from an open box and munched on it, still avoiding their gazes.

“Oh, so that’s why Liu Hao and the others were panicking before the match. You stole away their captain.” Amusement flitted through Su Mucheng’s eyes at this knowledge. “Right, now that you reminded me, Brother Xuefeng, what made you post on Ye Xiu’s weibo?”

“My Weibo? I thought Chen Guo was the one to manage that...one…” he trailed off upon realizing that Su Mucheng said his weibo instead of Little Leaf’s weibo. He immediately opened up a browser window and searched up his ‘official’ weibo, eyes widening when he saw the sole post on his account and the thousands upon thousands of notifications.

“Blame Lin Xiao.” Wu Xuefeng shrugged. “This caused enough chaos to distract the others. Only those from our Excellent Era know that I was the one to post it, not Ye Xiu.”

“You just wanted to one-up me,” Lin Xiao grumbled. As if remembering something, he opened up the Weibo app and selected a picture to send. With a click, he sent the pro players on another wild goose chase, this time toward Dezhou with a comment about visiting the tomb of Sultan Paduka Pahala of Sulu. He hadn’t expected Ye Qiu to be willing to collaborate with his little scheme, but the businessman even offered up a folder of images from places the twin had visited before on business trips. With a few modifications to the timestamps, Lin Xiao had a folder full of material to use in his misdirection game.

“I’m Little Captain’s favorite, not you.” Wu Xuefeng, as if to prove his point, pulled Ye Xiu into a one-armed hug.

Ye Xiu rolled his eyes at the familiar byplay and kept running through the dungeon, thankful that Steamed Bun and Tang Rou were immersed enough in the game to not pay attention. They tell him to keep things low-key, yet they were the ones to spill out far more information than necessary. He had luckily remembered to keep his mic off, so the others in the game—particularly Sleeping Moon, Seven Fields, and co—couldn’t hear anything either.

“I’m Little Leaf’s favorite,” Su Mucheng interjected, a pretty pout on her lips.

“You don’t count; the only one who ranks higher in his heart than you is Glory,” Fang Shijing said, bemused. Even if he wasn’t as close to Ye Xiu back when he was still in the pro scene, having only gotten closer after retirement, he knew this much.

“Point,” Su Mucheng conceded. Perhaps, if her brother was alive...no, Ye Xiu would abandon Su Muqiu for Glory even then. By now, the hurt had faded and left merely fond memories. She allowed herself to reminisce for a moment before returning to reality. She inserted in her card for Cleansing Mist and frowned when she saw a friend invite from Hateful Sword. Wasn’t this the guy who died really quickly when Tiny Herb had ambushed them in-game? Why was he contacting her? Because Ye Xiu wasn’t online with Lord Grim? She blocked the guy and moved Cleansing Mist toward Boneyard. She had far better things to do than deal with limpets like him.

The sudden announcement flashing across her screen pulled a gasp from her. Ye Xiu paused upon seeing it as well. Lin Xiao, Wu Xuefeng, and Fang Shijing turned toward their monitors to see what happened.

 

System Announcement: Excellent Dynasty Players Hateful Sword, Darkened Mirror, Elven Craft, Torrential Monsoon, Amber Sunlight have set a new time record for the Boneyard dungeon: 18:29:11.

Chapter Text

“...Okay,” Ye Xiu said as the clock struck twelve. “I think we should be setting a new record after two more runs, but…”

 

Lord Grim, Cleansing Mist, and Soft Mist were already a large cornerstone of the strategy. Looking through the equipment at hand as well, Ye Xiu thought for a moment before he exclaimed, “The Bone Scythe!”

 

“...” Lin Xiao turned to Wu Xuefeng.

 

“The…” Wu Xuefeng coughed. “Battle Cleric. That Cleric was using an Orange weapon, Bone Scythe. Added with the Vampire Cloak that he was wearing too…”

 

“Oh,” Lin Xiao softly realised. Vampire Cloak had Vitality +15, Strength +15, and 2% Lifesteal for Melee Attacks. In the hands of any other Cleric it was a waste at best, but for the Battle Cleric it was almost perfect at this level. Furthermore, Orange weapons such as Vampiric Lightsaber and the even rarer Bone Scythe had an effect on the party’s damage output across the whole map.

 

No support from Holy Commandment Light? No Sacred Fire? Not even the barest of heals?

 

“We don’t need a healer,” said Ye Xiu, “but it’ll be handy to get one.”


 

“And that,” concluded Lin Xiao in the game, “was how you were shanghaied into this.”

 

Through the camera of Vieillard Sous La Lune, Fang Shiqian contemplated the troop of god-level players behind the rainbow under Lord Grim’s umbrella. “...”

 

“You and I know that a physically oriented Cleric isn’t the best way to go,” Ye Xiu started. “You’re waving around a scythe now - it’s a good, unorthodox weapon, but cast speed and Intelligence is sacrificed in exchanged for melee power and survivability. You can compensate some other way, but on a team level it creates uncertainty which can’t be afforded at higher levels of play.”

 

“...you know,” Fang Shiqian said, “I thought you were a nice, sweet lad, and you just had to open your mouth.”

 

“...” It was Ye Xiu’s turn to fall silent. “Wanna come along?”

 

“Ok, hang on for a bit.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Got to apply eyedrops. I’ve been glaring at this screen for too long.”

 

“Is that why you retired, Old Fang?” Lin Xiao piped up. “Eyes got blurred from all the tricks the Magician was pulling?”

 

“Heh, if he could only pull the broom from his ass,” Fang Shiqian cursed back. “Team boss was trying to push more use of the Cleric. Different from Blue Rain, hah.”

 

“So it’s a matter of orthodoxy,” Ye Xiu concluded. “Tyranny’s Zhang Xinjie is their Master Tactician, but Wind Guard under your control beats out Immovable Rock in terms of pure healing and group coordination.”

 

“Boy has a good grasp of things.” Vieillard Sous La Lune held the Bone Scythe in one hand, a murderous angel cloaked in blood. “Who are you?”

 

“Er…”

 

“Old Fang, you can’t expect payment without work,” Lin Xiao drawled. “So, the Boneyard record in exchange for what’s going on, yeah?”

 

As expected, Ye Xiu only needed to explain the general line of thought before Fang Shiqian had already got it. What was more horrifying, however, came when Ye Xiu introduced Fang Shiqian to the rest.

 

“Hi~❤” The speech bubble erupted immediately above Vieillard Sous La Lune’s head. “I’m the one who unites all lovers under heaven, the Old Man under the Moon~❤ Do you want to tie a red string with me?”

 

Ye Xiu: “...”

 

Wu Xuefeng: “...”

 

Tang Rou: “...is he… alright?”

 

“Little Lord!” Steamed Bun’s character began jumping. “Look, a wild BOSS! He’s totally not human!”

 

“...Steamed Bun,” Ye Xiu sighed. “It’s just someone with the shoujo disease. Be sorry that you have to place your life in his hands, he’s our healer this round… as much as I regret it now...”

 


 

Regretfully, Ye Xiu still shanghaied their press-ganged Cleric along into the Boneyard dungeon, where Vieillard Sous La Lune opened with a perfectly timed Star Fall which made up for Steamed Bun’s left flank. In the first wave of monsters, the skeletons were trapped perfectly -- one, two, three fell, the fourth stuck within the bones of its comrades as the five of them continued forward, light flashing with Small Heals every now and then.

 

“I thought you always said that we didn’t need Clerics,” Tang Rou commented in between waves.

 

“Haven’t you realised?” Ye Xiu’s tone sounded surprised. “Not at this stage, but he’s not playing as a normal Cleric, is he? I didn’t bring him here to deal with the Zombie Virus.”

 

Tang Rou started, and then switched her camera about to check as a Repel sent waves of zombies away into the distance. “That’s-”

 

“Support classes don’t have to be pure support,” Ye Xiu slipped into a partial lecture as he made a Shadow Clone. “Even a god of healing has a killing side to him.”

 

With Ye Xiu's researched strategy, they could even avoid the second BOSS, Zombie Bailey. This exceedingly difficult method sounded very simple -- send Zombie Bailey into a crack in the wall not too far high up. The hard part, as always, was actually doing it.

 

"Begin!!" Ye Xiu's Lord Grim rushed up to pull it. He knocked it up and unleashed a Falling Flower Palm. Zombie Bailey went flying.

 

Soft Mist stabbed forward. Taking advantage of the flying Zombie Bailey, she chained Sky Strike and Falling Flower Palm. Steamed Bun Invasion was next up, followed by Su Mucheng’s Anti-Tank Missile which threw the BOSS towards Vieillard Sous La Lune. The clang of one end of the scythe hitting the ground presaged the Rising Emblem which knocked Zombie Bailey up further, tugging it along the scythe’s swing.

 

“Soul Hook!” Su Mucheng exclaimed. “It’s there!”

 

Ye Xiu’s Lord Grim had already jumped onto the stone wall and hit the midair Zombie Bailey in front of him. The Myriad Manifestation Umbrella swooshed out, and a chain of bullets from the Launcher skill BBQ flew out in midair.

 

Lord Grim had already begun to fall, but the BBQ bullets all drummed into Zombie Bailey, who rolled about in the air until it hit into the crack in the stone wall.

 

Alors, bien monté! ” Vieillard Sous La Lune glowed with a Recovery skill.

 

“As if you didn’t play a part…” Su Mucheng rolled her eyes. Fang Shiqian’s simple statement of ‘well done’ was understating the techniques required in that instant.

If this was a normal Delivery Gun, the angle was not enough to complete it. However, when Lord Grim jumped up in a certain way, the character would reach a certain height, making enough room to use Delivery Gun. However, this angle could only be made with a very short hop - the timing had to be accurately grasped in order to deliver Zombie Bailey into the crack. This was beyond Su Mucheng’s Launcher -- only Ye Xiu could do it, maybe Zhou Zekai with practice, or… but the impossible was not to be contemplated.

 

Furthermore, it underestimated the role that the red-dressed Battle Cleric had played. A normal upward cut had no way of lifting Zombie Bailey to Ye Xiu’s desired position -- only by arresting Zombie Bailey with Soul Hook could Rising Emblem then push the BOSS up. Fortunately, it seemed that this timing was still within ability for one more famed for healing power rather than battle.

 

Ça, c’est tombé à pic ,” the self-proclaimed old man sighed before the party rushed along on the final third. When Boneyard’s final BOSS fell at last, the system message broke out:

 

System Announcement: Congratulations to Blue Brook Guild's players: Lord Grim, Cleansing Mist, Steamed Bun Invasion, Soft Mist, Vieillard Sous La Lune for breaking the Boneyard clear record, time: 17:22:17.



The world was at a loss. Each of the big guilds were shocked. All of the Glory veterans began murmuring about this record. If they hadn’t gone mad yet, they were close.

 

After the tenth server opened, these towering records that stood tall for many years became like crumpled paper. Fortunately, the new server had a lot of new players, so they didn’t understand. If this was in an old server, then the players would certainly begin discussing which God had descended down into the mortal plane. Right now, because the server had just opened, the other servers’ players didn’t pay much attention to the circumstances in the tenth server.

 

Yet.

 

Huang Shaotian was oblivious to all of this, for the simple reason that he had just finished a match against Excellent Era on the latter’s home ground, he was away from the game of Glory, and he was currently eating tangyuan by a roadside cart.

 

“A full bowl of tangyuan for two yuan and you serve it with peach pits too?” Huang Shaotian was babbling. “This is delicious!”

 

“Thank you for the compliment,” the cart-owner mildly commented. “I hope that this two yuan is worth the peach blossom which has fallen on you.”

 

“Huh?” Huang Shaotian commented. “It’s delicious, but it feels kinda girly as well, eating peach blossom tangyuan. Original, but it’s like that osmanthus dessert? What’s its name, something with osmanthus and sugar water? Huh, Sun Xiang over there might know, no wait, he might not, this is a guy who has Six Walnuts directly on his doorstep requesting him as a spokesperson, one look and you know that he’s in desperate need of Six Walnuts and a haircut, so where is he going, huh…?”

 

With one foot poised to step outside of the Happy Internet Café, Wu Xuefeng frowned and looked to his partner. “Do you hear buzzing? Is the electricity still down? Or are there more flies going towards Little Captain?”

 

“With Fang Shiqian that ‘insulation’ around, how would they?” Fang Shijing cackled. “Out of the numerous relationships which that guy tries to pull the red string, not one of them has survived. He calls himself Yue Lao, but we might as well call him ‘insulation’ . So, that house which Ye Q- Ye Qiu… bought… it’s in Shanglin Park, huh? Nice place, very cosy...”

 

So occupied were the adults, that none of them quite noticed when a red-haired boy and his black-headed hanger-on snuck out through the doors, walking out of the insulation of the Happy Internet Café towards a 7-Eleven...

Chapter Text

Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General → Boneyard Dungeon Record

1st Floor — CrimsonStaff

New thread! Because the livestream one went to the pits [sweat]

~

History of Boneyard Dungeon Records since Livestream:

[Tyrannical Ambition] Lord Grim, Soft Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Steamed Bun Invasion — 23.54:71.

[Tyrannical Ambition] Lord Grim, Soft Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Steamed Bun Invasion — 21.32:07.

[Tyrannical Ambition] Lord Grim, Soft Mist, Titanic, Flowing Tree, Steamed Bun Invasion — 19.54:68.

[Excellent Dynasty] Hateful Sword, Darkened Mirror, Elven Craft, Torrential Monsoon, Amber Sunlight — 18:29:11.

~

CAN WE JUST SAY THAT WE ARE LIVING IN THE MOMENT

THESE RECORDS ARE BETTER THAN ANY OTHER RECORDS SET ACROSS ALL THE SERVERS

2nd Floor — SofaPotato

1st kill!

3rd Floor — CouchTaterTot

2nd kill!

4th Floor — BloomBloom

Lele kill!

5th Floor — BloomBloom

Fuck, didn’t get second

I’m so sorry, God Lele

This disciple has failed you QAQ

6th Floor — KittenForce

3rd kill nya~

7th Floor — LemonSqueezy

Tf are these records

8th Floor — WineForDays

You sure these guys aren’t hacking?

9th Floor — xXx13A77lE&0DxXx

************

[This comment has been redacted for violating Terms & Conditions — GloryScribe]

10th Floor — DancingMoonlight

??!?!?!

Get outta here, ya a**hole

11th Floor — NAx14Batman

Reported

12th Floor — LSDiamonds

Smh some people are so immature

13th — NAx14Batman

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

14th Floor — StarlitHaven

RIP 10L[1]

...

26th Floor — SoaringSky

So, easy conclusion that Excellent Dynasty stole Lord Grim’s strategy from the livestream?

27th Floor — LaughingLord

Not really an EE fan so I haven’t been keeping up with them in-game

But seems like?

28th Floor — ImmersedJade

That’s what I think! Can’t wait for Little God to steal it back~

Didn’t Excellent Dynasty set the record like 3 days ago?

Hmmm...they took a while to break it, wonder why

((wuwuwu am sorry if I get things wrong, am not that good at game stuff yet; I just follow Little God’s teachings))

29th Floor — CrimsonStaff

LS, dw your post is accurate

Sightings show that Lord Grim has been busy in the arena I believe? So she’s not even focusing on dungeon records at the moment

Still Level 27 too, so she could be refining a new strategy maybe…?

Otherwise, Excellent Dynasty’s record will be pretty hard to beat

30th Floor — WiltedLeaf

Those f*ckers probably brought in pros or sth

That time ain’t natural

31st Floor — TinyMite

And you’re saying Lord Grim and co’s is?

True though

We got a livestream as proof, plus Soft Mist and Steamed Bun Invasion are noobs even if they’re better than most noobs

32nd Floor — BluePrincess

QWQ BLUE BROOK WHERE ARE YOU

WHY ARE YOU LEAVING THE RECORD BRAWL TO TYRANNY AND EXCELLENT ERA

33rd Floor — DessertDust

Probs because Blue Rain sucks?

Heh, Tyranny for the win~

...

165th Floor — HurricaneYellow

OMG OMG OMG BLUE BROOK REPRESENT

[Blue Brook] Lord Grim, Cleansing Mist, Steamed Bun Invasion, Soft Mist, Vieillard Sous La Lune — 17:22:17.

166th Floor — HatefulMinion

Tf are you talking about

Those are all just that cheater’s party

Except for the french guy

But even he is not org blue brook

167th Floor — GreenFedora

Isn’t that the exorcist haunting boneyard dungeon?

That guy pks anyone he catches outside the place

Was that all to protect Lord Grim and co?

168th Floor — HoneyThePooh

Oof, I heard of that

Friends got OHKO for just passing by

They weren’t even high enough level to run boneyard

169th Floor — FlightlessWings

OwO what’s this?

170th Floor — SoaringSky

GTFO LS

Also damn, Little God crushed Excellent Dynasty’s record by over a minute

New strat? Gotta be

...

777th Floor — HatefulMinion

heh

[Excellent Dynasty] Hateful Sword, Tsar Koschei, Elven Craft, Torrential Monsoon, Amber Sunlight — 17:10:78.

778th Floor — LaughingLord

Okay, this is getting ridiculous

Who wants to play Guess the Pro?

779th Floor — RainyPlums

Pfft I say one of them is EE’s vice

Maybe the Berserker since the vice was playing like one during their match against Blue Rain

Tf you doing playing a Spellblade like a Berserker?

780th Floor — WiltedLeaf

Hhhhh

Probably

How much you want to bet the one switched name in the party, the Battle Mage that replaced the Sharpshooter, is EE’s rookie captain

781st Floor — DeathToTheDynasty

No bet

I don’t take suckers

782nd Floor — DessertDust

+1

They barely beat Lord Grim’s time too

Lmao

They really grasping for straws here

783rd Floor — AshesToAshes

You all need a chill pill

+2 though

784th Floor — MoonSlayingDemon

+3

785th Floor — TheLastSaneOne

Tbf Sun Xiang did better than last week

I think

786th Floor — BluestEyes

Get outta that river in Egypt

Huang Shao played the guy for a fool

Heh, I bet that redhead cutie the idiot was drooling over last week drops him like a stone

787th Floor — CrimsonStaff

Can’t believe I’m saying this

But Sun Xiang did actually do better teamwork-wise

Or tried to

Excellent Era’s loss is on their vice this time round

788th Floor — LaughingLord

OT warning y’all

789th Floor — LaughingLord

Anyway, it’s midnight

By how much do you think Little God will smash Excellent Dynasty’s record lololol


 Swallowing the last of the peach blossom tangyuan, Huang Shaotian handed the bowl back to the seller. “Thanks for the food! Ah, wait wait wait, captain might like this too! Can you head to Cerulean Crystal Hotel and deliver a bowl of peach blossom tangyuan to the front desk? Say it’s for Yu Wenzhou!” Huang Shaotian didn’t wait for the tangyuan seller to reply before dashing off after the strangely dressed Sun Xiang, who he only recognized because of the other’s ridiculous height—Huang Shaotian swore that the guy was fed giant’s milk growing up—and the few strands of blond hair peeking out from his hood.

Huang Shaotian briefly glanced both ways before crossing the street after the blond. Sun Xiang didn’t seem to realize he was being followed, though he was still looking around furtively in case some fans of his were out and about.

“Oi, you in the furry jacket! Yea, you youngster, turn around and listen to this senior!” Huang Shaotian called out, skidding to a stop a few paces behind Sun Xiang.

Sun Xiang turned around upon hearing the annoying voice he thought he left behind hours ago at the stadium. “You? What are you doing here,” Sun Xiang demanded, his eyes unconsciously shifting to look at Happy Internet Cafe just a few doors down before focusing on the shorter man. He straightened his back and tried to use his extra height to get the chatterbox to back off, to no avail.

Huang Shaotian was not someone easily subdued.

The Vice-Captain of Blue Rain caught Sun Xiang sneaking a glance at some place and shifted his gaze to take a look, too. Happy Internet Cafe? Huang Shaotian thought. Why does that sound familiar...wait, the chibi brat!

“No way! Hahahahaha imagine the look on their faces when everyone realizes the person you’ve been crushing on is the Lord Grim! Can’t believe you swing that way, Little Xiang Xiang~” Huang Shaotian mocked, though without any bite. He didn’t really have anything against the rookie captain, excluding the annoyance at the rookie replacing Ye Qiu.

“H–h–hey, what are you saying! Lord Grim is a cute girl, don’t you know? Wait, I mean,” Sun Xiang started, his mouth moving faster than his brain. Shit, I can’t believe I fell for that. At least I didn’t spill anything else. Don’t want to have Tao Xuan on my ass about gay rumors when he already raked me over the coals for the interview.

“Ha, so it is Lord Grim! Excellent Era is trying to poach him, too?! Please, like he’ll even consider a declining team like yours.” Huang Shaotian flashed a fanged grin, his eyes filled with amusement upon seeing Sun Xiang’s ire increase. This rookie was too easy to bait. “Haven’t you seen the boards in the Tenth Server? The guy obviously likes Blue Rain better.” Huang Shaotian deftly ignored how some of the records were set for Tyrannical Ambition and not Blue Brook. Not like Sun Xiang would know, right?

“Blue Brook?” Sun Xiang snorted. “The latest record set for Frost Forest is under Tyranny’s name, and Boneyard is Excellent Era’s!” He should know. He wasn’t able to sneak out earlier because his damn Vice-Captain dragged him into the new server to set a record. He had better things to do than to go set records at beginner dungeons! Upon remembering this, he internally winced. He hoped Ye Xiu didn’t realize that he was the one using the weirdly named Battle Mage. How was he supposed to know the record he was breaking was one of the redhead’s? He didn’t keep up with gossip in the amateur circles! Also, who decided to name the account in another foreign language? They were in China; at least use Chinese names so others could read the account name! Sun Xiang had no idea what the name of the alt Battle Mage account was, only knowing that it didn’t sound English at all. European, maybe? The blond shoved these thoughts to the side, however; stray thoughts were a hindrance when dealing with the chatterbox of Blue Rain. Unconsciously, his voice rose in volume in an attempt to overpower the continuous stream of jibes from Huang Shaotian.

Neither of them realized that a crowd were starting to form around them in a clear circle. Back in the internet cafe both of them were interested in, conversations were put on pause when the argument began to filter in through the ajar doors.

Their loud argument could even be heard several blocks away, not just a few storefronts down. Ye Xiu, upon hearing their voices, came to a stop. Did Zhang Jiale do some black magic to shove that second-place shitty luck onto him? He tugged at Lin Xiao’s jacket, saying, “Brother Xiao, how about we...not head back so soon?”

Lin Xiao raised a brow and glanced lazily at the direction they were heading. When he caught sight of the duo and the increasing number of spectators just ahead, he frowned and nodded. “What now, Little Captain?”

Ye Xiu shrugged. “We can grab Mucheng and get some ice cream? Blue Rain pummeled Excellent Era pretty badly because of Liu Hao.” Ye Xiu pulled out his phone in preparation to text Su Mucheng to meet them at the nearby ice cream parlor they always frequented.

“How about we go to my place? I haven’t moved yet, and you can use one of my computers to play Glory,” Lin Xiao offered. He didn’t want to risk Ye Xiu running into the loudmouth from Blue Rain or the pervert from Excellent Era tonight. “You didn’t max the limit for Boneyard yet.”

They hadn’t optimized the team composition for the strategy since Ye Xiu had wanted to use the remaining runs before the refresh at midnight to teach Tang Rou and Steamed Bun. Thinking of this, Lin Xiao allowed a faint smile to touch the corner of his lips. Wrecking Excellent Era’s plans for the tenth server...heh, just what they deserved. His eyes grew a bit colder upon remembering what Ye Xiu had revealed to him and Wu Xuefeng a few days ago.

“Sure,” Ye Xiu agreed easily, sending off a text to Su Mucheng about the change in plans. “Let’s go get ice cream first though. Mucheng already agreed to meet us there.” He turned around and began walking back the way they came. “Coming, Brother Xiao?’

“Yea,” Lin Xiao said. He threw an arm over Ye Xiu’s shoulder, keeping him close. “You should have dressed warmer.” He frowned, realizing how thin the jacket Ye Xiu was wearing. Shrugging off his own coat, he wrapped it around the redhead, ignoring the protests.

“It’s not snowing tonight, so just this is fine! I’m not that fragile, Brother Xiao,” Ye Xiu complained, though he did stuff his gloved hands into the coat pockets.

“I’m not dealing with Wu Xuefeng if you get sick,” was all Lin Xiao said, causing Ye Xiu to scowl. He wasn’t that helpless at taking care of himself. His scowl deepened when he saw the amusement dancing in Lin Xiao’s grey eyes. He then remembered something.

“Oh, right, should we warn Brother Xuefeng?” Ye Xiu didn’t think his former Vice-Captain, or even Fang Shijing, would want to deal with Huang Shaotian when riled up by Sun Xiang, or vice versa, at the moment.

A pondering look crossed Lin Xiao’s face for a split second. “Nah, better him than us. Come on, let’s not leave Little Flower waiting.” He took a half-remembered path to a small ice cream shop a block away, Ye Xiu tightly pressed against his side and unable to break free from his one-armed embrace—though it wasn’t like Ye Xiu tried that hard to break free. It was silent the rest of the way, neither one of them feeling the urge to fill the comfortable silence.

Before they stepped into the shop, Ye Xiu glanced up at his old friend. Some things never change, do they, he thought, a warm smile gracing his face. How many times had he sneaked out of Excellent Era to eat ice cream with Lin Xiao and Su Mucheng, to the ire of their health-conscious teammates? Too many times to count.

“Grab us a booth in the back,” Lin Xiao said. “I’ll go order for us.” Taking initiative for once, the older man released Ye Xiu from his hold and pulled out his phone, pulling up a list he had not deleted even after all these years.

Ye Xiu did as told and glanced outside. Not catching sight of Su Mucheng, he shifted his gaze back toward Lin Xiao, chuckling quietly at how lazy the other was. Instead of reciting their order, the man had just handed off his phone to the cashier to show them the list of desserts their trio wanted, like he always did years ago. Luckily, Ye Xiu thought, none of our tastes changed since.

The tinkling of the bell, alongside the creak of the door, pulled Ye Xiu from his reverie. Seeing a familiar pink-clad figure enter, he stood up and waved, signalling for Su Mucheng to come over. He soon found himself pulled into a tight hug, not that he minded. “Hello to you too, Mucheng.”

“Little Leaf~” Su Mucheng pulled back and scanned Ye Xiu to see if anything was wrong. Not seeing any visible signs of stress, her brows furrowed. “What made you want to grab ice cream all of a sudden?”

“Long story,” Ye Xiu sighed before beginning to explain what happened earlier.


Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General → Boneyard Dungeon Record

1529th Floor — LordGrim4eva

LOOK AT THIS

IS THE SKY FALLING OR SOMETHING BECAUSE THIS TIME IS INSANE

AM I DREAMING!?!?!?

THEY DESTROYED EXCELLENT DYNASTY BY A WHOLE MINUTE PLUS

[System Announcement: Congratulations to Blue Brook Guild's players: Lord Grim, Cleansing Mist, Titanic, Vermillion Blaze, Vieillard Sous La Lune for breaking the Boneyard clear record, time: 16:12:05.]

1530th Floor — CrimsonStaff

HOLY #%$#j@$^%@

WHAT KIND OF RECORD IS THAT

1531st Floor — HurricaneYellow

I… I don’t know how to feel about this

1532nd Floor — ForeverCruising

Okay, so what the everloving f*ck is going on in the tenth server?

This shatters the record in the 9th server by four full minutes

1533rd Floor — DesertLeaf

Istg

Never expected the 1st server record to be broken

Because

Ya know

It’s set by gods like Ye Qiu and such

But?!?!?! THE HELL

WHAT IS THAT GODDAMN TIME

HOW THE SDF;VIHLKDRSJCOFVHDED

1534th Floor — HatefulMinion

Reporting him again

How is he not cheating

1535th Floor — LordOfHell

LS, just watch as you get banned lol

The mods are annoyed enough

1536th Floor — RottenCrown

I wonder how many reports the mods are going to get now

lmfao

What was it last time, 7456? That number 233333 [2]

1777th Floor — JoyOfLife (Game Master)

………………………..

Stating this now, before you guys flood our inboxes even more

There is no evidence of Lord Grim or his party having violated any rules, used any cheats or any bots

If you want to know how they did it, ask them yourself

You might get an answer

1778th Floor — ScytheBlade

WILD GM HAS SPAWNED

1779th Floor — WaterYouDoing

Rip mods

How many reports this time?

1780th Floor — MuseOfMiracles (Game Master)

You don’t want to know

1781st Floor — PocketOfMonsters

ANOTHER WILD GM SPOTTED

1782nd Floor — Vecchio

o.O

1783rd Floor — SeedlessMelons

o.O +1

1784th Floor — BambooShoots

o.O +2

1785th Floor — Berritastic

o.O +3

1786th Floor — LaughingLord

Hhhhhhh

Lord Grim is a freaking legend

Never before has so many game masters showed up

1787th Floor — ImmersedJade

Ahhhhhh Little God is the bestest there ever was!!!!!!!!!!!!

☆*:.。.o(≧▽≦)o.。.:*☆


Yu Wenzhou frowned but accepted the bowl of tangyuan. “Just two yuan? How inexpensive,” he commented. He handed over the small change, glad he did have a few bills on him since he hadn’t expected to be receiving food so late at night, and nodded farewell at the seller. As he walked back toward the elevator to return to his floor, he pressed 5 on his phone’s number pad to speed dial his errant Vice-Captain.

“Shaotian, where are you? … I see…come back immediately. I do not care, Shaotian. It’s late enough, and with the ruckus you are making, Captain Wei and Lord Grim have probably vanished. Captain Wei has avoided us diligently since he retired, and with how muted Lord Grim’s presence is despite her popularity, she has probably disappeared upon seeing you two arguing outside. We’ll find them tomorrow before we leave.”

Yu Wenzhou closed his eyes briefly in frustration, allowing the chatter to wash over him. He opened his eyes again at the ding of the elevator and stepped inside. “Very well. Expect doubled training when we return, Shaotian. You know better than to cause a public scene like that. Also, tangyuan at two in the morning? You could have at least paid in advance. What’s the point of ordering food for me if you make me pay for it in the end?”

Behind him, the elevator doors closed.

Chapter Text


Windy RainXX:XX:XX
@One Autumn Leaf @Troubling Rain lol

Windy RainXX:XX:XX
You two are trending. Congrats

Windy RainXX:XX:XX
Papapapa [1]

Doubtful DemonXX:XX:XX
Papapapa +1

Ignis FatuusXX:XX:XX
Papapapa +2

VaccariaXX:XX:XX
Papapapa +3

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
Fuck you, Chu Yunxiu [Middle finger]

Firebird MessengerXX:XX:XX
/> “Breaking News! Famous pro players Huang Shaotian and Sun Xiang found together outside of Excellent Era, arguing!”

Ignis FatuusXX:XX:XX
Huang Shao…. There are rumors of you and Sun Xiang having… an indecent relationship…

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
Li Xuan, you better not have anything to do with the spread of those rumors

Crying DevilXX:XX:XX
????
A Ce… qwq

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
*Li Xun

Crying DevilXX:XX:XX
Oh

Ignis FatuusXX:XX:XX
Vice-captain, I’m innocent >.<

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
You had better be.

Ignis FatuusXX:XX:XX
(._. ;;;)

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
Thank you, Vice Wu

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
But I applaud whoever took that video

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
………………………………………………………………….

Asswipe[2] AsswipeAsswipe

One Autumn Leaf XX:XX:XX
Asswipe

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
Hey!

My pic[3]

You DARE???

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
@Troubling Rain My pic

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 艹 [4]
Fuck you, this is your fault!

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
MY fault???
How is it my fault???

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
How is it NOT your fault huh??? HUH???

VaccariaXX:XX:XX
*cougholdmarriedcouplecough*

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
Wang Jiexi you piece oF SHIT FITE ME

Machine gun

 

Cloud PiercerXX:XX:XX
.

@Troubling Rain

Machine gun

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
T c h
You bastards are all ganging up on me!!!
Even captain!!!! Cryyyyyyyy

SwoksaarXX:XX:XX
Do you know how much trouble you gave PR?
^_^

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
…………………………………………………………………………. Sorry?

Bullet RainXX:XX:XX
Ah, how stressful...

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
WAIT WHY IS IT ME WHO IS AT FAULT, CAPTAIN, IT WAS THAT BASTARD SUN XIANG

SwoksaarXX:XX:XX
Well, I’m not captain Sun’s captain

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
adgdafghfdghjjgffjkhgffvutrcnhshkg
caaaaaaaptaaaaain

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
I don’t understand girls these days, why do they… they…

Windy RainXX:XX:XX
Why do we what?
Hm?

Ignis FatuusXX:XX:XX
Why girls what now?

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
WHY THE HELL ARE THEY SO ROTTEN

Dancing RainXX:XX:XX
[Fanfic: XiangHuang, Kiss and Make-Up]

[Dancing Rain has recalled a message]

Dancing RainXX:XX:XX
Oops ;P

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
??? What?

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
What’s XiangHuang?

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
YOU DONT WANNA KNOW OK???

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
What the shit Huang Shaotian??? You want to fight?

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
ITS FOR YOUR OWN DAMN GOOD YOU DAMN BRAT DONT RUIN YOUR OWN INNOCENCE

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
????????

Dancing RainXX:XX:XX
And why do YOU know what it means?

Windy RainXX:XX:XX
+1

Tell us, Huang Shao

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
Urgh, that was a traumatic event. I don’t want to talk about it

Doubtful DemonXX:XX:XX


Demon SubduerXX:XX:XX


DeliloXX:XX:XX


Cloud PiercerXX:XX:XX


Empty WavesXX:XX:XX


Flying SwordXX:XX:XX


Dancing RainXX:XX:XX
Anyways, that fic was meant to go to Li Xuan

Crying DevilXX:XX:XX
????

Dancing RainXX:XX:XX
*Li Xun

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
Lol

Troubling RainXX:XX:XX
…………… Li Xun, you……………

>.>

Ignis FatuusXX:XX:XX
Sister Su, why would you out me like this???

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
What about Li Xun????

Windy RainXX:XX:XX
Don’t worry your pretty little head over it.

One Autumn LeafXX:XX:XX
??????????

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
Li Xuan likes to gossip, that’s all

Crying Devil XX:XX:XX


Carved Ghost XX:XX:XX
*Li Xun

Crying Devil XX:XX:XX
Ok, now you’re just doing this on purpose.

Carved GhostXX:XX:XX
I have no idea what you’re talking about

 


In the deep and windy cold night, which lantern do we light? Under the heavens, the winds howl amidst turbulent clouds, ” a male voice crooned. “ The moon's shadow wane, clearly in Chang'an. A lone shadow, like a dream and an illusion.

 

“This is the last time I consider anything the Dai girl recommends,”  Yu Wenzhou sighed to himself, but left the audio stream on as he continued to plough through diagrams on his tablet. The music was fine, even despite the fact that he, Yu Wenzhou, had somehow paid to listen to BL. Again, a lesson on ignoring Dai Yanqi during her QQ rants.

 

Were Yu Wenzhou at a desktop or even before his laptop, he would probably have gone on Glory. Such was the life of a professional player—much less a top-level tactician like Yu Wenzhou. Even after Blue Rain’s narrow victory against Excellent Era, he was still hard at work, planning, for the stage—for themselves, and for that person who left without a word.

 

Swoksaar’s image, complete with the Silver staff Curse of Destruction, executed a Chaotic Rain at the same time that Troubling Rain began a Sky-Splitting Strike against a Rising Dragon Soars the Sky.

 

 The sword points the Milky Way 

 

The tablet continued to croon: “ The sword traces the Milky Way; the Green Dragon ascends to the clouds. For whose sake, would you exchange this kingdom in a chaotic world?

 


 

 

Since our farewell that year, the moon by the storied building -- how many times has it waxed and waned since then?

 

“Which idiot is broadcasting music in an Internet Café?” A middle-aged man snarled. “Shut it off!”

 

“Hah?!” The counter auntie slammed the table. Despite the dozen or so hoodlums seated around Wei Chen’s cubicle in the Internet Café, most of them cringed. “You’re wearing headphones; you can’t even hear a damn thing! Go play your game!”

 

“This big sister, I’m really doing research...”

 

“I spit at you! Look at your dressing and beard!”

 

Wei Chen: “...ah?”

 

“You’re still trying to trick me?” The auntie continued.

 

“Eh?”

 

“I say you’re just hogging the terminal!”

 

Wei Chen slunk back, leaving the music to fill in the silence. “I didn’t say anything…”

 

“Hmph.” The auntie sank back down. Some of the customers exchanged furtive looks, but the formidable matron simply defied any modern notion of customer service. Especially since the one broadcasting the music was actually the counter girl next to her, who was furiously blushing as she realised that the Café intercom system had been hooked to her audio drama by accident. The singer crooned “ The wineglass is long dry; the music long silenced— ” before a squawk of static killed the music.

 

“What a shocking grievance…” Wei Chen muttered. “I’m clearly doing work here, so why am I the one being scolded?”

 

“Brother Wei, you haven’t opened the Glory interface at all since you arrived,” one of his underling-brothers commented. “Even the counter auntie can sense something’s up. So…did you explode someone’s equips?”

 

“Che, who’d you think this senior is?” Wei Chen scoffed. “No, I’m researching for the complete opposite. Some idiot thinks his little brother might be bullied online and needs a nanny, and he’s willing to throw money. Of course, your Brother Wei would take this easy money.”

 

“Brother Wei! Do we get to go along?”

 

“Dumbass!” Wei Chen scolded. “This senior is researching for that purpose! Go play your games!”

 

As his followers dove back into Glory, Wei Chen inclined back and sighed. “Wonder what’s going on in the tenth server… I pity whoever’s pioneering there already.”

 

Wei Chen had actually been pulled into this five chapters ago, when a complete noob to the game had bought a max-level Heavenly Domain account and proceeded to blunder about before Wei Chen’s character Windward Formation had stumbled upon him. The stupid noob had been looking for a dumbass online vigilante, which, if you asked Wei Chen, was a dumb move—if the kid needed protection, the best option was to find a guild, preferably a Club guild, not one lone player. Anyway, Wei Chen jabbered and blabbed, and the next thing he knew, he was being roped in to play online nanny to a talented kid.

 

“What a talented kid,” he tutted. Indeed, after assessing the livestream of the Boneyard run, his instinct told him that this kid would go far. He had thought the same thing about Huang Shaotian, and look at the Sword Saint now. Of course, Wei Chen’s instinct for sensing talent was sometimes off—Yu Wenzhou was a classic example of the kid that nobody thought would amount to much. That still did not exclude that, once upon a time, Wei Chen had pioneered Blue Rain’s training camp, which even Ye Xiu had acknowledged as the best environment to raise a talented pro.

 

Wei Chen squinted at the video again, and sighed—not in pity, but more of a sort of wonder at real life and all its surprises. “That face… just remove the spectacles and give the kid some black hair, and there’s a face-tank right there. He’ll naturally draw the aggro of every pro player. Poor kid, to be born with that face...”

 

As the livestream video played on, and the voice behind Lord Grim kept talking, Wei Chen’s face then slowly began to change through a series of expression—disbelief, shock, a tinge of fear, and…

 

“That voice… this...” Wei Chen slumped back. “I’m getting too old to go through flashbacks at my age. There’s nothing even good about reminiscing about that guy and his face which aggroes everyone… he should have gone to play Knight instead of Battle Mage, ha! It just needs a Sharpshooter and then it’ll be… like...”

 

He shuddered, and then pulled open Weibo to verify that the latest post on Ye Qiu’s official Weibo placed him safely overseas, smiling, happy, and not in a ditch with dreams of Glory.

 

“Hah…” Wei Chen shut out Weibo, peered at the young kid which was his assignment, and frowned. “Teaching? This isn’t some penny-ante three yuan an hour tuition thing; this is the kind of talent which needs a professional club to nurture. If that noob was serious about building up a team…”

 

He opened up a QQ chat:


Wei ChenXX:XX:XX
I’ll need to meet the kid in person before we can decide on the next path—audition, take the exams into any of the training camps, even building a team—need to see if this star player is really that valuable.

 

His typing slowed, marginally bit by bit. Wei Chen bit his lip, and then fished out a cigarette from the box in his jacket pocket for a smoke. The curls of smoke dissipated, as if mocking him; this was the march of time, and no amount of imagining the what-could-have-been could change the fact that he was born too early to pursue the dazzling stage for long. For a time, he had even considered giving up Glory, but he could not be satisfied.

 

Wei Chen’s career could thus be summed up as: ten years of passion to write out faith, but the glory has long left the stage.[5]

 

Outside the Internet Café, in the blink of an eye, the snows of X City filled the skies once again.

 


 

[1] The sound of clapping… and, ahem, skin on skin in general

[2] In case you missed it, there’s an “asswipe” at the bottom where the subtitles go

[3] That’s my picture, you bastard!

[4] Euphemism for fuck

[5] 十年热血写信仰,荣耀早已散场

 

Song:

Chapter Text

Something… wasn’t right. But he just couldn’t put his finger on what, exactly, was wrong.

 

Bai Yanfei carefully moved his gaze away from his training program, his fingers still moving - more on automatic than anything else - to complete it. He looked to one side.

 

Wang Chixuan stared back awkwardly.

 

After staring at each other in complete awkwardness for a full three seconds, Bai Yanfei glanced to the other side.

 

On his other side, Yu Tian was staring at his screen, but looking completely distracted, like he was purposefully trying to keep his eyes on the screen instead of letting them drift to the side opposite Bai Yanfei, where an empty seat lay between him and their vice-captain.

 

Yu Tian seemed to be doing his absolute best to not blink either, considering how his eye was twitching in a commendable effort to stay open. Then he blinked, and when he opened his eyes, his gaze had drifted to meet Bai Yanfei.

 

Bai Yanfei jerked his chin discreetly, trying to get Yu Tian to look the other way, or at least, away from him before the vice captain glanced over.

 

Opposite them, Bai Yanfei noticed, Zhou Guangyi and Zheng Chenfeng stared, heads peeking above the screens of their computers.

 

“Ahem.”

 

All of them visibly startled before turning to look at their vice-captain, who had cleared his throat and was now looking at them, clearly having noticed their distraction.

 

This was the first time Bai Yanfei had ever seen their vice-captain look so lost - not that anyone else would notice. On the outside, Zhang Xinjie seemed as calm and emotionless as ever. However, after being teammates with the other for so long, they could see the hesitance and incomprehension in their vice-captain.

 

“Captain has… taken leave.”

 

The sheer amount of confusion that could be expressed through that hesitation was shocking. For a moment, Bai Yanfei and the others were more stunned at that than at the fact that their captain - never give up, never back down, never stop Han Wenqing - had taken leave.

 

Then it registered. Yu Tian dropped his mouse on the ground. Bai Yanfei’s eyes went wide. Zheng Chenfeng sucked in a breath audibly. Zhou Guangyi went still and Cold Seasons died. Wang Chixuan burst into laughter.

 

Everyone turned to look at him.

 

He stopped laughing.

 

“... Wait, seriously?”

 

“Yes,” Song Qiying, who had been quietly practicing in his seat, suddenly spoke up. The others turned to look at him, almost having forgotten his existence. They had gotten used to him ever since he had started practicing here. They all knew that he was going to be Desert Dust’s successor, but not when. It didn’t seem that their captain - their absent captain!!!! - had any plans to retire soon. “I saw captain talking with the manager about taking the day off.”

 

How can you be so calm about this??? Bai Yanfei screamed in his head. Han Wenqing is absent - absent!!! - from training!

 

“... Uh… So where… did captain go?” Zhou Guangyi spoke hesitantly.

 

Bai Yanfei gave him a thumbs-up. Well, not an actual thumbs-up, just one in his heart. Him asking meant, well, none of them had to ask.

 

“... I don’t know.” This time, Zhang Xinjie sounded much less confused and much more irritated. Or, well, he sounded just as confused, but much more irritated.

 

As expected of their vice-captain. Wait, he didn’t know?

 

Then who did???

 

“Hangzhou.”

 

Everyone looked at Song Qiying, staring mutely at him, including Zhang Xinjie. Song Qiying didn’t seem to notice everyone staring and continued to speak like nothing unusual was happening. “I heard captain tell manager he was flying to Hangzhou.”

 

Bai Yanfei blinked at Song Qiying in shock. Rota had fallen off a cliff and died, but Bai Yanfei didn’t even register the sound of defeat playing through his headphones. It wasn’t until a chill ran up his spine that he looked away.

 

“... Get back to training.” Zhang Xinjie’s sharp tone made everyone start. It seemed that he had realized something - something that made him very, very displeased.

 

Everyone snapped right back to their training, cold sweat beading on their foreheads.

 

What was going on???

 


 

“What.”

 

That was all Ye Xiu said when he stepped into their new home. Or rather, stepped through the gates of their new private apartment complex .

 

He looked at his brother blankly.

 

What? ” Ye Qiu hissed. “Don’t think I’m doing this for you - I -”

 

“Thanks, mom!” Ye Xiu beamed.

 

“Ye Xiu !”

 

“So are you going to help us move in?”

 

No.

 

Two days later, Ye Xiu came back to a fully furnished apartment, all their items in place, neat and tidy. Of course, Ye Qiu didn’t do any of the actual lifting, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t pay for it. And this, naturally, meant he had no face to stay here anymore, so Ye Xiu didn’t even get a chance to thank him - not that he would’ve accepted it.

 

But Mucheng seemed to like it. And so did Fang Shijing, Wu Xuefeng and Lin Xiao.

 

Ye Qiu had left them a note, saying something about bills and wifi routers. Not long after, Su Mucheng and Lin Xiao disappeared, the former having attacked the latter with a razor. A razor for shaving, mind you. Fang Shijing and Wu Xuefeng had also disappeared to buy ingredients for dinner, stating that it was the end of Ye Xiu’s unhealthy diet when Ye Xiu suggested instant ramen.

 

This meant that Ye Xiu was left alone to play Glory - which he very much enjoyed. Unfortunately, there were no desktop computers in the apartment yet - they were due to arrive later, something he was certain Ye Qiu had planned just to spite him. Ye Xiu made do with a laptop, but the specifications of the laptop weren’t good enough to actually battle, so he decided to do some more research on the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella, looking over upgrade materials. Apparently, he couldn’t leave the apartment at the moment, because Su Mucheng said they were expecting someone - who, Ye Xiu didn’t know, but they seemed to be important.

 

As expected, it didn’t take long for the doorbell to ring. With a slight groan, Ye Xiu got up and went to get the door.

 

He opened the door.

 

He slammed it closed.

 

Or well, he tried and failed to slam it closed, because clearly the person on the other side was expecting it and pushed the door back open before it could lock, but not before Ye Xiu latched the door chain to prevent it from opening further.

 

“Ye Qiu! Stop messing around and open the damn door!” Han Wenqing ordered, slamming a palm against the door.

 

“Ye Qiu? There’s no Ye Qiu here!” Ye Xiu yelled back as he tried to push the door closed - completely unnecessary considering how the person he was talking to was only centimeters away, and the door was latched to prevent it from being opened further. What he yelled wasn’t even a lie.

 

“Stop fucking around! I heard from Su Mucheng that-”

 

Ye Xiu pressed his back harder against the door futilely. “Damnit, she’s meant to be my sister; it was just a misunderstanding!”

 

“What misunderstanding?”

 

“What do you mean what misunderstanding?”

 

“Su Mucheng said something happened.”

 

“... Are you worried about me?”

 

“We’ve been friends for ten years, Ye Qiu,” Han Wenqing gave an exasperated sigh, pulling away from the door.

 

Ye Xiu straightened, almost falling when Han Wenqing let go. “... You really are like a Creme Egg [1].”

 

“... What?”

 

“Never mind. Su Mucheng has been buying me too many snacks.”

 

“... Will you open the door?”

 

Ye Xiu stared at the hard wood of the door for a good while before he sighed and relented. There really was no point in trying to keep Han Wenqing away. He knew what Han Wenqing was like. That man was stubborn as a mule, but good at heart. If he knew anything about Han Wenqing, it was that the other man was a true friend. One he could trust - maybe even with his life. They respected each other as rivals - and as friends.

 

Ye Xiu unlatched the door, and was met Han Wenqing’s concerned frown.

 

“Well?” Ye Xiu raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to come in?”

 

“What happened?” Han Wenqing asked.

 

“Just come in first,” Ye Xiu waved at Han Wenqing to come in and went right back to the living room, where the laptop was. He sat, pocky in mouth, and switched windows from Glory to the forums.

 

Han Wenqing sat opposite to him. “Well?”

 

“Well what?” Ye Xiu drawled, browsing through the forums randomly. For some reason, Sun Xiang and Huang Shaotian were particularly hot topics. Ye Xiu blinked a little, commenting, “Wow, Sun Xiang and Huang Shaotian sure are popular.”

 

Han Wenqing pinched the bridge of his nose. “After that scandal the other day, I’m not surprised.” I’m just glad you weren’t caught up in that , was what he didn’t say.

 

“Scandal?” Ye Xiu quirked an eyebrow.

 

“Yes. They got into a fight. Some fans took videos and it went viral on the net.”

 

“In… Hangzhou?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Oh… And I’m not Ye Qiu, by the way,” Han Wenqing raised an eyebrow in confusion. Ye Xiu didn’t even need to look at him to know what he was asking for. “My name is Ye Xiu, I couldn’t find my own ID back then so I signed up with my twin brother’s.”

 

Han Wenqing took the revelation surprisingly well, making only a soft noise to tell the other he understood. If it was Zhang Xinjie… Oh boy, Ye Xiu was sure he’d get the talking down to of his life. Or maybe not, Zhang Xinjie had always been very respectful around him, and didn’t tend to express disapproval so blatantly. Actually, he might be fainted on the ground at the sheer illogicity of the whole situation. The being young again thing, you know?

 

A silence fell over them, surprisingly comfortable. Han Wenqing watched Ye Xiu’s hands dance over the keyboard, typing something. They were smaller now, and though Ye Xiu’s hands had always been beautiful, they looked much healthier, nails untainted from the damage that years of chain smoking had done.

 

After a while, Han Wenqing spoke up again. “How have you… Why are you…”

 

Ye Xiu didn’t need Han Wenqing to finish his question to understand him. “Well… On the day I retired, I was walking away and I shrunk. That’s it.”

 

Han Wenqing took a moment to process that before asking, “... Why did you retire?”

 

Ye Xiu shrugged, clicking into the tenth server forums. “The team wasn’t doing well, the captain’s skill was deteriorating, unable to lead the team like a captain should, so of course they had to bring in new blood, you know? That’s the way it works.”

 

Han Wenqing’s scowl deepened. “Will you return?”

 

“Heh,” Ye Xiu turned his head, smirking. “What do you think? I’m a pro player, after all.”

Chapter Text

Silence reigned for a while, neither being up for further conversation. Ye Xiu continued scrolling through the forums, an amused smirk appearing on his face at times.

Han Wenqing stonily watched him, taking in the differences. Finally, he asked, “Why red?”

 

“Huh?” Ye Xiu looked away from the laptop to glance at Han Wenqing, a questioning look in his eyes. “Red what? My hair? Mucheng randomly chose it.”

“Ah,” Han Wenqing paused, “I thought it was due to some lingering loyalty to Excellent Era. The color is nearly the same shade as the logo.”

“Oh.” Ye Xiu grabbed a few strands of his hair and pulled it down to take a look. Now that he was actually paying attention, it was remarkably similar…

“That, or you were paying tribute to Tyranny,” Han Wenqing tossed in, dragging Ye Xiu away from morose thoughts.

“Tyranny? Pfft, no way,” Ye Xiu retorted. “If anything, it’s red to bring out my eyes.”

Han Wenqing raised a brow but didn’t comment. Ye Xiu glanced at him briefly before returning to his forum trawl. He sensed more than heard Han Wenqing move closer to look at his laptop screen. Shifting a bit to allow him a better look, Ye Xiu clicked on an interesting topic concerning the Tenth Server.

Glory Forums → Tenth Server → General → Boneyard Dungeon Record

“So, you’re haunting the tenth server now?” Han Wenqing asked, more curiosity than reprimand in his voice. His dark eyes roved over the forum posts now visible on the screen, widening slightly at the times. So this was what the guild leader wanted to talk with Zhang Xinjie about. A contemplative look crossed his face as he considered how to proceed with this knowledge.

“I wouldn’t call it haunting,” Ye Xiu started. “I’m not griefing like Old Fang is, after all.”

“Old Fang? Which one.”

“Wang Jiexi’s Fang,” Ye Xiu clarified. “He’s relapsed and decided to cosplay Old Man Under the Moon in the tenth server.”

“I see,” Han Wenqing replied, short and terse. There wasn’t really a correct way to respond to such a revelation. Fang Shiqian...had quite a character and had become near obsessed with matchmaking a while back, despite being the ultimate ‘insulation.’

Their conversation stilled, neither feeling up to talking nor the need to talk. Ye Xiu read through the posts practically stalking his adventures in the Boneyard Dungeon, Han Wenqing reading over his shoulder.

Han Wenqing raised both brows at the ending time, but didn’t think much of it. With a dungeon team nearly filled with pros, and one led by the Glory Textbook himself, it was not an unreasonable achievement.

“New strategy?”

“Yes.”

Han Wenqing nodded and kept silent, even as Ye Xiu began typing up a response to the forum. How strange, for this old friend of his to suddenly be so active on social media, but some things had changed despite others staying the same.

He opened his mouth, intending to ask something, when a stampede of footsteps interrupted him.

“Oi, that’s enough, Little Flower! I am not cutting my hair!”

“Come on, Brother Xiao! You would look so much prettier if it is actually styled!”

“For the last time, no!

The door slammed open, a figure tripping over the slightly raised doorway and falling to the ground. A flash of light brown was all Han Wenqing saw before another person fell to the ground, tripping over the previous one.

“Little Flower,” the person on the bottom groaned. “You have not gotten any lighter after growing up. Please, get off me.”

“I don’t know~” Su Mucheng teased. She had shifted to sit fully on the other person’s back. “You’re pretty comfy. All that squish makes excellent cushion.”

“Little Flower.” The squashed person raised his head, allowing Han Wenqing to finally recognize the owner of the voice that he felt was familiar but couldn’t place. While he was slightly surprised, it was not by much. How could he forget how wily and deceiving Lin Xiao used to be, considering how intense the rivalry between Excellent Era and Tyranny used to be due to the spillover from his rivalry with Ye Qiu  Xiu?

“Aren’t you supposed to be in Dezhou, Lin Xiao,” Han Wenqing called out, immediately causing the argument to end.

“Dezhou? Wait, that voice,” Lin Xiao mused loudly, craning his neck up higher to look at the speaker. “The fuck are you doing here, Han Wenqing? Wait, how did you find us here?” The giggling coming from his back alerted him to the answer. “Little Flower, you traitor!”

“Brother doesn’t mind,” Su Mucheng countered, a hint of smugness in her voice.

“I said it was a misunderstanding!” Ye Xiu interjected. “Mucheng!”

The slight desperation she could hear stopped Su Mucheng from expanding further, though Lin Xiao and Han Wenqing had both narrowed their eyes at this. Han Wenqing recalled what Ye Xiu had first said when he had appeared, some rough conclusions forming in his mind.

“Misunderstanding?” Lin Xiao queried, using the moment of distraction to send Su Mucheng tumbling to the floor and thus off his back. He stood up, wiping his hands together.

“Nothing for you to worry about, Brother Xiao,” Ye Xiu said, the finality in his tone ending the topic.

“Hmm…” Lin Xiao didn’t seem willing to drop it, but he let the matter lie for the moment.

“You know, Brother Xiao, you can give Little Zhou a run for this money,” Ye Xiu considered, deliberately starting a new conversation to move on from the previous.

“I know, right?” Su Mucheng added. “But he won’t let me fix his wardrobe; speaking of which, I need to fix yours, too, Brother.”

“Uh...no need, Mucheng.” Ye Xiu rapidly waved his hands to emphasize his refusal. “My idiot little brother already bought me a bunch of clothes.”

“But you never wear anything but a t-shirt, jeans, and some type of outerwear! Even though Ye Qiu bought you suits as well!” Su Mucheng argued. “At least try to look as if you don’t wear the same outfit daily!”

“I don’t even go out, so what’s the point?” Ye Xiu retorted. He was perfectly fine with staying a shut-in and playing Glory while working at the internet cafe.

Han Wenqing watched, arms crossed and highly amused. Lin Xiao, meanwhile, was eyeing the captain of Tyranny, a scheming glint in his eyes.

“Hey, Han Wenqing.” Lin Xiao pitched his voice low, so as to not be overheard by the arguing pseudo-siblings.

Han Wenqing turned to face the former pro player, his eyes questioning.

Right at that moment, a phone began ringing, silencing everyone.

It took a moment for Ye Xiu to realize it was his, after glancing at Su Mucheng only to see her shake her head and then to the other two, who also replied negatively. He walked over to where he last tossed it aside and answered the call.

“Brother Xuefeng?” Ye Xiu greeted, confused. “Did you need something?”

Han Wenqing’s brows furrowed a bit. Wu Xuefeng was here as well? What was going on? He glanced at Lin Xiao, who only mouthed that he would explain over QQ. Frowning deeper but acknowledging that now was not the time, he turned back to look at Ye Xiu.

“Oh, Mucheng,” Ye Xiu covered the bottom of his phone and turned to ask Su Mucheng, “Do we need anything from the market?”

“Um, not really. Ye Qiu covered pretty much everything but the ingredients,” Su Mucheng answered. She thought for a moment and then asked, “Can you ask them to get chocolate and ice cream?”

“Mucheng’s asking for chocolate and ice cream,” Ye Xiu said into the phone. “Ah, can I get—what? But—fine, no cigarettes. Get me some more pocky then; I ran out and forgot to ask my idiot brother to get me some more.” Ye Xiu paused before beginning to walk toward the hallway. “Is the kitchen missing anything? How should I know? I don’t cook. Oh, Old Fang, huh, might need to call you something else to avoid confusing you with Fang Shiqian later, anyway...I’ll go look.” He disappeared down the hall and around the corner, heading toward the kitchen.

“Right, now that Ye Xiu is busy.” Su Mucheng clapped her hands, her face carefully blank except for her usual smile. “What are you plotting, Brother Xiao.”

“What are you plotting, Little Flower,” Lin Xiao tossed back, even as he flopped back onto the couch to get settled in for a long conversation.

Han Wenqing walked closer to the duo, saying, “I would like to know what both of you are plotting.”


“He’s where? ” Ye Qiu grumbled into the phone as he spoke with his personal assistant. “Alright, book me a flight to Shanghai then. Why is he in Shanghai of all places? What? He’s a...novelist? I can’t believe someone who liked the same stupid game as my brother can go into literature...oh, so that’s why. Nevermind, my expectations are correct as always.”

Ye Qiu walked out of his hotel, a bellhop carrying his luggage for him. Still on the phone, he didn’t notice a man staring in his direction, confusion plastered on his face. Gu Yifei sent a message into the group chat, specifically pinging his former Vice Captain for clarification.

 

 

 

 

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ultramarine Daybreak you did say Little Captain had a twin, right? Identical twin? Because I think I just saw him check out of Imperial Dynasty Hotel in Hangzhou
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Wait, what? You’re in Hangzhou already?!
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yea, my shop can run without me being there, it’ll just take more work to do commissions through shipping and stuff
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
 [1]
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Leilei…
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
muuuu...I’m still stuck here because of this huge request the studio got qwq
I want to go find Little Captain too uwaaaaaa
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

@Snow Warning I’ll be in Hangzhou the day after tomorrow
I have no pressing cases, finished my last one yesterday
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[2]
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[3]
[4]
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Grow up first, shorty
You can’t even reach me


Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
You’re...barely any taller than Leilei
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
NOT ALL OF US CAN BE FUCKING GIANTS LIKE YOU, YANG CHEN
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
[5]

Chapter Text

Gu Yifei frowned and tucked away his phone. Well, it was too late to chase after the guy who was probably Little Captain’s twin, so...what to do.

Find Little Captain?

Shaking his head, Gu Yifei began meandering his way over to Lin Xiao’s place. He didn’t expect the lazy bastard to have moved since they all split ways. The sun was bright today, unusual for winter. Perhaps a sign? Was he going to succeed today? With a slight bounce added to his steps, Gu Yifei tried to trace his way back to the apartment complex he vaguely remembered Lin Xiao living in.

Unfortunately, he had no sense of direction and got horribly lost.

Horribly, horribly lost.

The light breeze tugged at his auburn locks, his body shuddering a bit from the chill. Wrapping his tan coat tighter around him, he cursed his forgetfulness, as he had forgotten to grab his scarf when he left the hotel. His neck was still cold despite the dark blue turtleneck he wore.

 

Gu Yifei stopped to contemplate for a moment. Well, at the very least, he looked quite fashionable, if he said so himself. A scarf would have disturbed the classy winter look he was going for.

Lost in thought, Gu Yifei found himself in the middle of what seemed to be Hangzhou’s street food area. Eyes lighting up, he dashed to the first tangyuan seller he saw. He loved tangyuan!

“Sorry, no tangyuan left,” the uncle said apologetically. He covered the cart back up, the sign already stowed away.

“Really? None? Not even leftovers? I don’t mind getting a bowl with mixed flavors! I’ve heard a lot about your...Broken Bridge...recipes and really want to try some,” Gu Yifei cajoled. A quick glance down the street showed that there wasn’t any other tangyuan sellers, so this was his only option.

“Sorry, sold out. Next time.” The uncle patted his hand comfortingly before leaving, cart in tow.

Depressed, Gu Yifei didn’t even care that he had no idea where he was. His appetite had now disappeared. Pulling out his phone, he vented his frustration to the group chat.

Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
why is it that whenever i want tangyuan, there’s no more left qwq
[1]
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX

Serves you right :P
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
fuck you little lei
fuck
you
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@Ultramarine Daybreak
Vice Captainnnnnnnnnnn
Feifei is being a meanie
uwu
‘Sides, all that sugar is bad for you, feifei
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’m more surprised you were even able to find a tangyuan seller
Let alone finding the street food market
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
I’m not that bad!
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yes you are
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yes you are +1
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Yes you are +2
Snow Warning (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
You...you…
I’m going to find little captain and show to you that I’m not directionally lost!1!!!1!1!!11!!
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
You still have the tracker installed on his phone, right? @Ultramarine Daybreak
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
@forestdrizzle does
Lin Xiao, find him if he doesn’t show up within a week
forestdrizzle (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
K, tk lil flwr w u nxt tm
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Ooh, did Little Mumu con you into doing something else?!
Pwease tell me someone took pics!
Ultramarine Daybreak (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
She got him to shave off his stubble
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
bb off to get pics from mumu
Dawning Dusk (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Send it to me too
Vodka's Era (XXXXXXXXX) XX:XX:XX
Kay~

 

Fuming at being ignored, Gu Yifei stormed off in a random direction, only to run smack dab into someone.

“Oh my god, oh my god, sorry, sorry, sorry,” Gu Yifei exclaimed, bending down to help pick up the dropped snacks.

“That’s alright,” the person said—a female by the sound of her voice, one whose tone felt a bit familiar yet not. A slender hand entered his vision, assisting in picking up the dropped snacks.

Gu Yifei straightened and handed over the packages he had picked up. “Here. I’m sorry for running into you.” He scratched the back of his head, a sheepish smile on his face. “My friends’ teasing set me off and I wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, my name is Gu Yifei, nice to meet you.”

“Tang Rou. And teasing? About what?”

“Oh...uh...I kind of get lost easily,” Gu Yifei admitted with a struggle, glancing away and incidentally landing on a charm attached to the young lady’s purse. “You play Glory too?” he asked in surprise.

“Hm?”

Tang Rou’s gaze fell to the charm she had taken from Ye Xiu, as he had been gifted quite a lot of merchandise that he would never use. He had thus allowed her, Chen Guo, and his older sister to take their pick. She had chosen a simple keychain of the Glory logo, whereas Chen Guo had snatched the Dancing Rain merchandise, from what Tang Rou remembered.

“I do. You as well?”

“Yea, I don’t play as much as I used to, but I’m still pretty good,” Gu Yifei replied. “What class?”

“Battle Mage.”

“A fan of Lit—I mean, of God Ye?” Gu Yifei corrected himself, though he didn’t think the young lady missed his slip with the way her eyes narrowed.

“My friend is. I want to be the best,” she answered simply. “And to beat someone.” That series of continuous losses still rankled at her.

“Right, right. Rival? Good, rivals always push you to greater heights.” Gu Yifei could easily recall the monstrous growth rates of Little Captain and Han Wenqing during the start of the Glory Professional Alliance. Just when it seemed like one of them pulled far enough ahead, the other would suddenly surge forward, neither giving an inch.

“Rivals, huh,” Tang Rou mused, but discarded it readily. She didn’t think she would find a rival; besides, her goal was to beat Little Ye and his unnatural strength. A rival would just distract her and make her playstyle become tailored to beat them rather than to beat Little Ye like she intended to.

“Where did you want to go to?” Tang Rou asked, changing the conversation.

Gu Yifei was about to rattle off what he could remember of Lin Xiao’s address, and then changed his mind. Pulling out his phone, he opened the image he had saved from the chat, showing Tang Rou the screen.

“Happy Internet Cafe? Why?” Tang Rou’s eyes glinted, her gaze piercing.

“My friend is a frequent visitor, and I’m surprising him,” Gu Yifei smoothly replied, not skipping a beat. Technically, nothing he said was a lie.

Tang Rou tilted her head slightly, her bangs slightly falling into her eyes. She eyed the man before her, older than her by a handful of years—closer to Chen Guo’s age—and only a few centimeters taller than her. He was rather short, actually.

“Follow me; I just happen to be heading there.”

“Really? Thanks! Hey, let me carry your stuff; it’s the least I could do.” Gu Yifei took the bags of snacks from Tang Rou’s hands and trailed after her as she weaved in and out of the crowd, back the way he think he came from.

She took him back to where he found the tangyuan seller earlier.

Oh.

Gu Yifei stared at the internet cafe he had somehow missed. He then turned his head a few degrees and found himself looking at Excellent Era’s clubhouse.

Oh.

Maybe he really was directionally challenged.


Ye Xiu munched on a new pack of pocky, strawberry flavored. Walking back to the living room, he paused upon feeling the thick tension lacing the room. Eyeing Han Wenqing, Lin Xiao, and Su Mucheng, he took a seat beside his pseudo-sister.

Silence—no one spoke.

“So,” Ye Xiu began, “what did I miss?”

Lin Xiao glanced at the captain of Tyranny, while Su Mucheng adopted a look of consideration. Han Wenqing, meanwhile, was glaring stonily at a spot on the wall, jaw clenched, hands clenched into fists.

A moment passed.

“Just how to deal with Sun Xiang having a crush on you and pining after you on social media, nothing much,” Su Mucheng piped up, teasingly pinching Ye Xiu’s round, squishy cheek. “You’re criminally cute.”

“P-wase wa-et goh,” Ye Xiu grumbled, having long giving up on refuting the title of ‘cute’ because he remembered how cute Ye Qiu was growing up with his large, teary eyes and soft skin—and since they were identical twins, that meant he was cute as well.

“It may not seem like much trouble at the moment,” Lin Xiao pointed out, “but his crush on you brings more attention to you, more than you want or need.”

“Wight—mumu, wa-et go, kom ohn,” Ye Xiu groaned, finally pulling free from Su Mucheng’s hold. “So, what do you guys plan to do.” At the raised eyebrows he got, he smirked. “Brother Xuefeng and Old Fang must have been distracting me for a reason.”

“Well…” Lin Xiao started, only to break off at a look from Su Mucheng.

Han Wenqing simply remained silent, like a looming monolith.

“We can either make sure you never meet him again—anytime soon at least—or...you get yourself a lover,” Su Mucheng said, mischief dancing in her eyes.

For some reason, Lin Xiao and Han Wenqing looked at each other, the former’s mouth twitching and the latter scowling—though that was nothing unusual.

Ye Xiu stared at Su Mucheng, feeling cold sweat break out on his forehead.

Su Mucheng beamed.

He was definitely forgetting something important, wasn’t he? Ye Xiu looked down, quickly going over the conversations he had with Su Mucheng in the past——

His gaze snapped back up to hers. “No. No way. I thought the point of this was to get people’s attention off of me.”

“I didn’t say anything yet.” Su Mucheng shrugged, smiling innocently.

“Why do we even have to do anything at all?” Ye Xiu asked, frowning a little, “Just let him do whatever, so long as I can keep playing Glory.”

“You think you’ll be able to do that in peace if he keeps making a fuss?” Lin Xiao raised an eyebrow, finally turning to look at him. “Don’t tell me you’re enjoying his affections or something.”

Han Wenqing made a sound and a motion, almost like he was scoffing. “That brat really thinks he’s worthy?”

Ye Xiu shrugged helplessly. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you two sound jealous—uh. You’re not actually…” He eyed them suspiciously.

Su Mucheng’s mouth curled into a mischievous grin. “Little Leaf, didn’t you say that you like—”

“No! I said that was a misunderstanding!” Ye Xiu yelped, barely resisting the urge jump up and cover her mouth with his hands.

Han Wenqing’s scowl seemed to deepen, and Lin Xiao’s eye twitched. As pro players, their auditory sense was nothing to scoff at.

“Sorry, what was that?” Lin Xiao’s tone was soft and his face was blank, but Ye Xiu had only ever heard that tone of voice from him when he was pissed beyond belief. Ye Xiu sweated. He could understand Han Wenqing scowling—that was his default expression—but what on earth did Lin Xiao have to be pissed off about?

“It was a misunderstanding.” Ye Xiu then quickly switched the topic, “Can we go back to the internet cafe? It’s time I get back to levelling.”

“No, we aren’t leaving until you explain,” Lin Xiao shot down his suggestion without hesitation, narrowing his eyes at Ye Xiu. “Who do I have to beat up?”

“Hmm~ wouldn’t you like to know,” Su Mucheng hummed, though her eyes remained on Ye Xiu.

This Su Mucheng, with her lips curved into a sweet smile, terrified Ye Xiu.

“Mucheng…” he all but pleaded.

“Little Flower?” Lin Xiao turned to face Su Mucheng, his face smoothing into a more genial expression. “Brother Xiao would like to know who is threatening our Little Captain’s purity.”

Su Mucheng opened her mouth, but before she could get a word out, Ye Xiu interjected, “We still need to figure out how to deal with Sun Xiang’s crush!”

“Just reject him,” Han Wenqing flatly said, his scowl barely discernible from a snarl.

“That requires him to meet up with the idiot again,” Lin Xiao argued. “Who knows if he will back off even if Little Captain did reject him.” He paused for a moment and then suggested something that just occurred to him, “Little Han could beat him up?”

“No,” Ye Xiu immediately shot down, feeling a headache begin to build. When did Lin Xiao get so damn violent? He regretted this change of topic already. What would it take to get them to back off and let him play Glory?

Then, like a ray of light from the heavens, the phone rang, interrupting the discussion.

“Hello? Oh?” Su Mucheng picked it up and then turned to them. “Someone is looking for you, Little Leaf. Well, they’re looking for all of us and Wu Xuefeng… Not Captain Han though.”

“Great! Let’s go see who it is!” Ye Xiu made a beeline for the exit. Lin Xiao groaned and collapsed onto the couch.

“Do we have to move?” he whined.

“Yes, now come on.” Su Mucheng grinned at him before following after Ye Xiu.

Han Wenqing looked close to rolling his eyes in exasperation as he pulled the lazy older man up by the arm.

“Fine, fine, jesus…”

 

Chapter Text

“Holy fuck it’s you,” was what Ye Xiu heard the moment he walked into the Happy Internet Café.

 

“Old Wei!” Ye Xiu chirped in utter joy of finding a human shield against the combined forces of Su Mucheng, Han Wenqing, and Lin Xiao. “I’m so glad to see you!”

 

“Don’t give me that crap!” Wei Chen scolded back. “I can see Su Mucheng behind you! Did you drop into-”

 

“Oi, Old Wei, let’s take this conversation elsewhere.” A seventeen-year-old tried to push the thirty-something man up the stairs, in a futile effort to avoid the eyes on them. “Old man!”

 

“Fuck,” came the curse, more out of habit than actual offence. “Namida Amida Butsu, Amithaba Amithaba-”

 

“Oi, I’m not a ghost!”

 

“You are, you’re the malignant spirit who didn’t have enough and came back through time to haunt the Glory circle,” Wei Chen put his face into his hands. “I pity every rookie next year… should I go shave myself bald ahead of time???”

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

At this point Wei Chen’s expression grew serious as the seconds crawled by with grinding and unending slowness. “Let me guess… ‘the team is doing badly, so the captain takes the blame for the team’s failures’.”

 

“As expected of Blue Rain’s old captain.” Ye Xiu waved his hand, a gesture of never-mind-it. “So how did you come here?”

 

“Some Glory noob bought a Heavenly Domain account to find a bodyguard for his little brother,” Wei Chen snorted through a haze of cigarette smoke as he lit one up. “Paid me to protect the kid in-game and see which team would take him. ‘Course, knowing it’s you … no boss in the circle can take you on. Or is willing to at this stage.”

 

“Old Wei, you’ve actually put so much thought into this,” Ye Xiu made a look of surprise, which resembled screaming. “A single conversation with you is worth more than ten years of studying.”

 

“Fuck off, we both only have nine years of compulsory education,” Wei Chen blew a plume of smoke, snickering as he saw Ye Xiu’s eyes linger on the plumes, before he saw the dark looks from the rest of the group and wisely continued, “But you’re forgetting something.”

 

“...materials,” Ye Xiu conceded. “En, yeah. So thanks for volunteering, Old Wei~”

 

“Oi, fuc-” Wei Chen glared around, shaking his head. “Even if we have a guild, there’s that thing called server branches, dumbass. Not to mention that Lord Grim… you’re Lord Grim?”

 

“Can there be anyone else?” Ye Xiu commented.

 

“True.”

 

“But, Old Wei, you’re not surprised at all?”

 

“Does this old man have the capacity to be surprised?” Wei Chen threw up his hands. “Guess who I met at the airport, dumbass! You’ve already managed to split yourself in two and threes, never mind finding a fountain of youth!”

 

“I didn’t ask to be like this~” Ye Xiu complained. “Otherwise why would I be stalked everyday by baby pros in the game? If Old Fang Shiqian wasn’t currently griefing his own juniors, they’d be harassing me every day.”

 

“There, right there, is your problem!” Wei Chen jabbed a finger at him. “Those are your future team-mates!”



“So,” Ye Xiu began.

 

“Wait.”

 

“Old Wei?”

 

Wei Chen jabbed a thumb at Han Wenqing by the side. “Why is Little Han here?”

 

By the sidelines, Wu Xuefeng and Su Mucheng both gave an intake. Then Wei Chen’s face grew even more exaggerated: “Don’t tell me that-”

 

“Nonsense, he’s staying in Tyranny. A beginning team can’t afford to support a God-level account,” Ye Xiu rolled his eyes. “Damn, Old Wei, did Ye Qiu hire you as a bodyguard or a nanny? Not even Huang Shaotian got this treatment.”

 

“They didn’t pay that much to pull in the brat,” Wei Chen gave a snort of disgust. “ You’re fine; we can just chuck you into any training camp and you’ll be making your debut in double-time. But making a whole team? With all of Excellent Era’s old roster?”

 

“I know the team’s balance is important,” Ye Xiu soothed. “Not like I can solve it right now…...”

 

Wu Xuefeng sighed in his heart. The Glory circle had changed from its beginnings. Nowadays it was far harder to break into the pro circles than in the past, never mind the resources or reputations behind them. This was partly due to the game itself, and how the big Club-owned guilds monopolised the materials needed for crafting Silver equipment.

 

Here, it also highlighted the difference between those who were panicked by Little Captain’s age reversal, and someone who had just stumbled on it by accident. So far, all their meetings had the sense of a team coming together, but no concrete plans and no direction. Not knowing which way to turn…

 

...was far worse than just shrinking.

 

Did Little Captain regret? Did he want to do something else, now that he had a second chance?

 

“I... will get there,” Ye Xiu sounded lost.

 

We will get there,” Su Mucheng corrected, her face set in a look which was more displeasure than anger. “As a team, we will get back to the stage where you should be.”

 

The veil of doubt which had appeared was wiped away. Of course they would get there. Of course they had to.

 

Ye Xiu smirked. “You know… I think Tiny Herb’s rookies are still around.”




The so-called ‘training assignment’ had been put on hold due to an unexpected development; namely, the fact that Tiny Herb’s old vice-captain was prowling around Boneyard. Plantago Seed was actually rather relieved that Vielliard Sous La Lune was haunting Boneyard, since the average player population had risen and the guilds were now running for the Desolate Land record before Lord Grim could have at it.

 

Therefore, it was rather a surprise that the team players came to grab their account cards once again. Plantago Seed had been confused, until he saw his friend list - Vieillard Sous La Lune was marked at Congee City.

 

It was a chance!

 

“Vice-Captain Fang is away!” Xiao Yun exclaimed in the training room to the other rookies. “Find and kill Lord Grim!”

 

Then he typed some more.

 

“Xiao Yun, what are you doing?” Liu Fei caught sight of him and asked.

 

“I’m assuring Vice-Captain Fang to take his time with his eyedrops.” Upon seeing the confused looks directed at him, Xiao Yun clarified, “He went AFK to the pharmacy. I’m on QQ right now.”

 

“I thought fighting Senior Fang was… interesting,” Qiao Yifan murmured.

 

“Yes, but Captain wants us to find and kill Lord Grim,” Xiao Yun sighed. Any arrogance he may have had was gone the moment he lost for the tenth time under a Scythe.

 

“At least Vice-Captain Fang isn’t playing Paladin in the tenth,” Gao Yingjie reasoned. “Otherwise how much time would we have to spend?”

 

“Don’t say it, I’m already in despair just thinking about it!” Zhou Yebai cringed. The Paladin could both tank and heal, so a good Paladin was akin to fighting a mini-boss; the mini-boss would inevitably lose, but the process was a long slog and would kill a few of them in the process. Since Fang Shiqian was still the undisputed number one Paladin despite his retirement, the sheer thought of it was too much for words.


 

As the five-player party milled towards Desolate Land, another party was congregating. It was a Striker, a Qi Master, a Launcher, a Warlock, and an Unspecialised.

 

“Remind me why am I fighting on this side?” Han Wenqing growled in-between controlling the borrowed Striker. “This is an Internet Café, which is across the street from Excellent Era .”

 

“Then go back to Q City,” Ye Xiu shrugged. “Old Han, you’re sure you didn’t get Zhang Xinjie’s OCD too?”

 

“If I got his tactical skill with it, that would be a fair trade,” Han Wenqing growled back.

 

OMG Han Wenqing can joke!

 

The other three adults present actually stopped typing, causing their characters to crash into each other and their cameras to spin around.

 

“OMG Han Wenqing can joke!” Lin Xiao exclaimed aloud, a packet of potato chips in one hand and fingers covered in powdered nori in the other.

 

Ye Xiu closed his eyes, counting the seconds. How had he handled Lin Xiao before…

 

Actually, he could not quite remember. Wu Xuefeng was always there with him, and everyone was simply too terrified of losing their salary to even contemplate not obeying the captain. It was the strange dynamic of everyone having to stick together in the same boat under wind and rain, or pull out a sum of money to try and find another way through life.

 

Who else was like Guo Mingyu, who was happy, and alive? Would they find Ye Qiu? Or would they just pass through life, and then see me a few years later maybe on the news or on the computer screen, and think that ‘hey, this is Little Captain!’

 

I am no longer Ye Qiu of the Glory world , he realised. I am Ye Xiu.

Chapter Text

“Stop for Hangzhou, Station XXX.”

Yang Chen 

Yang Chen looked up from his binder at the announcement. A look outside showed that the train was coming to a stop. Closing his binder and stowing it away, he stood up, stretching slightly as he waited for the doors to open. All around him, the other passengers came back to life from the long journey as well.

Biting back a yawn, Yang Chen stepped off the bullet train and onto the station, movements relaxed and steady despite the rapid flow of passengers disembarking hurriedly.

Nothing has changed, he thought, as he took in his surroundings. Same old Hangzhou.

Pulling his phone out of his suit jacket, he dialed a number he had long memorized. “Yifei, where are you?”

“Hey, oh, it’s you, Yang Chen. Happy Internet Cafe!”

Yang Chen then heard some shouting going on in the background, causing him to furrow his brows because that voice sounded familiar. “Is everything alright over there?”

“Y–yea! Old man, shut the fuck up! I’m on the phone, can’t you see that! Anyways, you can find where it is easily. It’s right across from Excellent Era. See you, gotta go!” All he could hear now was the dial tone.

Yang Chen sighed and tucked his phone away. It was far too much trouble to call a taxi at this hour, he might as well walk, since it wasn’t snowing today. Tugging his messenger bag higher up his shoulder, he left the station and began walking down old, familiar streets. He could hear the whispers buzzing around him but paid it no mind.

It was nothing new.

The winter breeze tugged at the loose strands of his hair, pulling some from the low bun he normally placed it in. His face was probably flushing a light pink from the chill as well, to his displeasure. Maybe he should have taken the taxi, but that would just draw attention that he did not want.

News about famous defense attorney Yang Chen being in Hangzhou and not Shanghai would spark a lot of discussion in circles he did not want stirred. Although he was not ashamed of his past as a professional gamer, his family was—though it was not like he had not shamed them before, a wry smile crossing Yang Chen at this thought.

“Yang Chen?”

A voice called out—male, surprised, yet also...hmm, Yang Chen couldn’t place that last emotion. He turned to see who it was. Yang Chen blinked, took a moment to sweep his gaze over the person, and then blinked again, “Lin Xiao, as pretty as ever,” he greeted, his lips upturned in a slight smile. It made his entire face soften, bringing out the smooth jawline and delicate features of his.

Lin Xiao grimaced but nodded in greeting. “I didn’t expect you to get here so early in the day.” He walked beside Yang Chen, hands tucked into his pockets. “It’s been a while.”

“Work has been busy,” Yang Chen offered as an explanation. “Hangzhou held...not many fond memories beyond our group as well.”

Lin Xiao looked up at the sky, remaining silent. Right, Team Excellent Era’s management had tried to get rid of Yang Chen as quickly as possible, succeeding when Wu Xuefeng retired and took many of the main roster with him. “It wasn’t the same without you and the others,” Lin Xiao stated some time later. They were only a street or two away from their destination by now.

Yang Chen glanced over at Lin Xiao, taking in the slightly tense jaw and slouched posture. “I can imagine.” Wu Xuefeng had been more than just a vice captain; he had been the one protecting most of them from the management’s more business-oriented focus.

All of them just wanted to play, regardless of their age and outside circumstances.

A sigh slipped past his lips. Life, however, had the tendency to drag them back to reality.

The two of them walked together in silence the rest of the way. Just as they passed by Team Excellent Era’s clubhouse, Lin Xiao suddenly asked, “How long are you staying?”

Yang Chen’s footsteps faltered for a second. “I’m not sure. I have no pressing cases to work on at the moment, and if the office needs me, I can work from a distance.”

“In other words, your colleagues are forcing you to take a vacation,” Lin Xiao surmised, eyes glinting with mischief. Yang Chen rolled his eyes at the jab but nodded regardless. It was slightly true, after all.

Yang Chen came to a stop at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to change before crossing. Lin Xiao trailed behind, steps slowing down the closer he reached the internet cafe. His old teammate’s actions did pique Yang Chen’s curiosity, but he let the matter rest.

Or, to be more precise, he did not need to ask, as the answer was in front of him the moment he stepped into the internet cafe.

“Big Brother Yang?”

He turned to look for the speaker and spotted someone he did not expect to see. “Well, if it isn’t Little Bun. I thought you were working as a security guard? What are you doing here?”

“Big Brother Yang!” Steamed Bun ran up and pulled the slighter man into a hug. Although Yang Chen was taller than the average man, Steamed Bun still had a good five to six centimeters on him in height. “Boss Ye asked me to protect Little Leaf!”

“Little...Leaf?” Yang Chen tested out the nickname, his mind immediately linking it to its owner. His eyes swept across the establishment but came back empty. No one resembling his previous team captain was there on the first floor of the internet cafe.

“Yeah! Come on, I’ll take you to meet him!” Steamed Bun was excited. He had first met Yang Chen when there was an incident at the company he used to work for a few years ago. The man had questioned him about how security was run, and then their conversation just drifted to other topics. It was because this man offhandedly mentioning that he used to play Glory that led to Steamed Bun eventually finding his way toward the game as well.

“No need,” Lin Xiao said, carelessly extracting Yang Chen from Steamed Bun’s embrace. Yang Chen sent Lin Xiao an unreadable look, to which Lin Xiao ignored. “Yang Chen is an old friend of mine, Steamed Bun. He’s vacationing here in Hangzhou for a while.”

“Really?! That means you can finally show me your skills in Glory! You still play, right? I think...you mentioned playing, uh, a mage of some kind?” Steamed Bun focused his full attention on Yang Chen again, his eagerness making it seem like he had dog ears topping his head and a wagging tail.

Yang Chen turned back to Steamed Bun and nodded. “Sure. I used to play Cleric and Exorcist, actually. Not a mage class.”

“Oh, I see, I see!”  Steamed Bun then turned and headed toward the staircase. “Sister, I’m bringing these two upstairs with me!”

The young lady manning the front desk looked up from her novel and pulled out one of her earbuds. “Hmm? Oh, alright. I’ll put it on your tab.”

“Thanks! Come on, Big Brother Yang! This way!” Steamed Bun bounded up the stairs, excitement radiating off his form.

Yang Chen exchanged looks with Lin Xiao again before making his way up to the front desk. “Miss? I would like to pay for the station I would be using upstairs.”

She eyed the man before her, feeling as if she had seen him before. Refined, delicate features, square glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, dark brown hair pulled back at the nape...he really did look familiar. Dressed in a suit and carrying a fancy leather messenger bag, the man was probably friends with that businessman from before.

“Sure, card?” she asked, her head tilting toward the price list stand beside her.

Yang Chen fished out his wallet and pulled out his ID as well as his credit card. “Here.”

“Thanks. Go on right ahead; Boss Chen is upstairs and can help you if you need anything.” She handed the cards back after scanning them. Her gaze drifted over to Lin Xiao next. “Oh, Lin Xiao! You’re back already from your walk?”

“Yea, good luck on your shift, Miss,” Lin Xiao replied briskly. She smiled and nodded in response, her eyes lingering on his features even as he turned to nudge the suited man upstairs. Once their backs vanished, she sighed slightly.

Well, that was quite a subtle rejection, she groused. Maybe she should look for a new job? Why were all the pretty guys taken, uninterested, or...she shifted her gaze back to the staircase—probably batting for the other team? She popped her earbud back in and went back to reading, occasionally glancing up to check on the patrons.

Upstairs, Yang Chen and Lin Xiao walked into what was a warzone. A lady with long brown hair pulled up into a ponytail was arguing with a man in the corner, her ire causing all the others nearby to back off. Another lady with short hair was focused intently on her computer screen, sitting beside Gu Yifei and questioning him occasionally as they ran dungeons, from what Yang Chen observed. Bao Rongxing, or Little Bun as he had gotten used to calling the tall blond, was talking excitedly to a redhead on the other side of the room. And—was that Su Mucheng in that mask and cap get-up? And Han Wenqing beside her? Wait, Yang Chen turned back to the man he had not bothered to take a closer look at. That—isn’t that Old Demon Wei?

“Big Brother Yang! Let me introduce you to everyone!” Steamed Bun saw them enter and called out to them, his shout drawing the attention of the entire room.

When Yang Chen saw the redhead’s face, his jaw dropped slightly. “Ye Xiu, what happened?”

“Oh...Brother Chen, you also came?” Ye Xiu widened his eyes upon seeing his old friend.

“Fuck, are you having a goddamn reunion of some kind? What the hell is this,” Wei Chen cursed. This was what, the fourth member of Team Excellent Era’s original grassroots roster—excluding the shameless bastard Ye Qiu—Xiu—whatever his name actually was. “Are you trying to return with a team of elders or something?” he tossed at Ye Xiu, who just sent him a blank look in return. He had been joking about returning with Excellent Era’s old roster!

“It’s been a while,” Yang Chen said with a smile.

Chapter Text

Hi, guys!

Serendipity is visible again and those pesky reports, conquered.

We highly suggest you go back to the beginning and reread the fic! We've changed a few scenes here and there. Uh...there should be a note added about when the chapter was edited...but I think I (Kiseki) was the only one to do that. I'll go back eventually to add edit dates to the revised chapters.

All us co-authors are high-key dying from real life, though, so updates will still be sporadic compared to our original weekly release. 

Do expect an update within the next two weeks, though! My (Kiseki's) midterms are nearly over, so I hope to find some time to write.

Thank you for continuing to support Serendipity!

With Love,

MTKiseki

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