In the blink of an eye, one year had passed.
He Liang looked at the falling leaves melancholically on the other side of his window. Today was the first day of the KPL Autumn League. For the past 5 years, he had been longing to start anew. No matter how difficult life became, he always had that hope in himself. But now…
“He Liang, have you prepared the seating plan for the school’s opening ceremony tomorrow?” A frenetic man who had just walked in yelled out.
He Liang’s attention snapped back to the computer before he replied, “I’m still doing it.”
He Liang was a graduate of Dong Jiang University who had returned to work in Student Administration. There was not much work for him to do, but he had lost his drive that he used to have back when he was still a student. He had no idea how his future would be like, the only thing he could do was focus on the task at hand.
“You’re going to have to speed up. The lines on the field have to be drawn before the sun goes down. The only thing that’s delaying them is your blueprint.” The other person urged.
“I’ll be done real soon.” He Liang fingers flew across the keyboard and the mouse as lines and words were put together to form a legible piece of document.
“Damn, you're showing your worth as a former professional PC gamer!” The man slipped out a compliment as he saw He Liang work.
“I play mobile games,” said He Liang.
“It’s all the same.”
Within the span of that short conversation, He Liang had completed his work, promptly sending the file to the other person’s phone.
“Nice, I’ll be right back.” The man said.
“Why would you come back again?” asked He Liang.
“So that you can help me level up my rank, of course!” He Liang looked at the person. He stood a hulking 7 feet tall. He quirked his eyebrow at He Liang, which gave the latter the urge to throw up.
“I’m not free today.” He Liang huffed. In ‘The King's Glory’, the ranking system was one of the more important aspects of the game. Players would gain or lose points based on their performance in each match. Based on these points, players would be sorted into 7 different ranks, ranging from Bronze Rank to King Rank, a clear testimonial to a player’s ability. But to professional gamers, the ranking system was not sufficient to prove their prowess. One could say that they have surpassed the system itself.
In any case, He Liang was still a bright professional gamer in the past, how could he feel nothing when his colleagues saw him as just a tool to help them rank up. Back when he quit the professional scene, he decided to quit the game as well. Who knew that his colleague, Pan Rui Ming kept on bugging him to play the game. The new season was about to begin and the rankings were about to be reset, Pan Rui Ming was especially desperate. However, He Liang was determined to not let anyone take advantage of himself and he walked out with just a simple excuse.
“Hey, where are you going?” Pan Rui Ming was surprised at He Liang’s decisiveness, seeing as he could be convinced easily on other occasions.
“My brother is coming here today, I’m going to pick him up.” He Liang walked out the door without so much as a glance backward.
“Your brother? Is he a new student? Hey, I’ll be using your computer!” Pan Rui Ming called out, but He Liang was already nowhere to be seen. Pan Rui Ming shrugged, plopping down in front of He Liang’s computer, using it to send out the seating plans to the people who needed them.
He notified his boss about his job well done, then started playing ‘The King's Glory’ on his phone.
“Guess I’ll just play here.” He muttered to himself as he started a match.
Whenever He Liang was playing with him, victory was almost always theirs, but the problem was that he played more solo matches than matches with He Liang. Even if He Liang helped him reach King rank, he quickly lost back to the Diamond rank in just two days. Without He Liang, Pan Rui Ming’s losing streak could go up to double digits, and even the game was notifying him of his bad records.
The previous match was a perfect example of this. After carrying Pan Rui Ming to King Rank, He Liang stopped helping his friend. Within one week, Pan Rui Ming managed to drop back to Gold Rank. Luckily for him, the game implemented a system that did not allow players who had accumulated points to drop back to Bronze Rank, or else it would take almost no effort for Pan Rui Ming to be demoted back to Bronze Rank 1. Pan Rui Ming’s talent for gaming was just average, yet he refused to admit it, claiming that it was always his teammates who dragged him down. To cover up this fact, Pan Rui Ming who had just reached Gold Rank confidently sent out a message to his teammates, “Expert here. In need of additional players.”
The heroes available in the game each had their own strengths, and choosing the best heroes to compliment the team was an important part of the game. As usual, Pan Rui Ming let his teammates choose their respective heroes for each role before picking one from the last remaining role.
His four other teammates did not respond to his message, but they picked their own heroes first. The roles for top, mid, ADC and support were already taken, the only one left was jungle. And so, Pan Rui Ming chose the assassin, ‘Prince of Lanling’.
“I’ll carry you all with my jungle!” Pan Rui Ming sent another message, brimming with confidence.
The match quickly started, and Pan Rui Ming who had matched with He Liang disregarded his teammates and rushed to the blue buff spawning area. His primary targets for experience and gold were the monsters in the jungle, making the jungle role the fastest to nurture roles and the key to the team’s battles.
Just as he was farming, he began to strategize on his plan to dominate the field-
And two heroes quickly jumped on him.
He backed off in panic while the two heroes quickly finished off the blue sentinel he was about to finish off and taking the blue buff he was eyeing for some time. He raged and turned on his microphone, “Why didn’t the top laner provide me vision?”
“They did! And it was obvious the enemy sniper was missing. If they were not taking the red buff, they were obviously coming in for your blue!”
It was not his teammate that was playing, but rather someone from behind him. It came out so sudden he almost jumped out of his chair. He turned over just to see a student looking over at his screen.
“But you did have your ‘Smite’ just now. Why did you run away?” the boy asked. ‘Smite’ was a summoner’s skill that junglers would use most of the time. It dealt a relatively high true damage to jungle monsters and was a really useful item to finish the jungle monsters off. But Pan Rui Ming did not utilize that to his advantage to finish the blue sentinel off, but rather chose to run away.
“Who are you?” Pan Rui Ming looked at the teenager who was giving him advice.
“Oh, I’m here to find He Liang. Isn’t this his office?” The teenager looked around the room, finally taking his eyes off Pan Rui Ming’s phone.
“He just went out.”
Rui Ming continued to play his match. Losing his blue buff, the Prince of Lanling could only reap the remaining jungle monsters. After taking some of his teammates’ lane minions, he managed to reach level 4. He immediately activated the ultimate of his hero, ‘Secret Skill - Stealth’ and snuck into the enemies’ blue zone. [TL: blue zone is the place where the blue sentinels that rewarded the blue buff laid.]
“The enemy jungler is fighting the red sentinel, so if you want to steal their buffs, you should go to the red zone.” another voice rang from behind him.
“You still haven’t left!” Pan Rui Ming jumped again in surprise, but he quickly reverted his attention back to his game. “But how did you know they’re taking the red buff?”
“Just now when you crossed paths with him, didn’t you see the buff he had?”
“Of course I did, but why do I have to take his buff?! I’m trying to steal his blue buff, don’t you get it? My mana is low anyway!” Rui Ming did not change his path.
“The enemy is taking the red buff, so there should be 60 seconds until the blue buff respawns. It’ll be faster for you to take the buff on your side!”
“What do you know? I’m planning to camp there and ambush him along with taking his blue buff!”
“Camping for 60 seconds?” The teenager asked curiously. Even in mid-game, it was really wasteful to spend 60 seconds camping. Just why would he spend that much time in the early game when time was not something to be wasted!
Just as his voice faded, Pan Rui Ming’s ‘Prince of Lanling’ ran into the enemy’s jungle ‘Li Bai’.
“See?” said a jolly Pan Rui Ming, sending his character to attack Li Bai.
“Be careful of Li Bai’s ultimate attack!” The teen saw Li Bai’s sword glow and quickly warned Pan Rui Ming. But Prince of Lanling had already begun his attack. He fired his Shadow Dagger at Li Bai. He followed up with his skill, ‘Secret Skill - Split’ creating a doppelganger who raised his sword and dashed at Li Bai.
It was truly hard to defend against a surprise attack, but Li Bai immediately cast his second skill, ‘Stroke of Genius’. Immediately, the longsword in his hand turned to a green lotus array, and evaded the attack from Prince of Lanling and his doppelganger. Li Bai followed up with his ultimate, ‘Green Lotus Serenade’, using up all his Sword Aura to cut at Prince of Lanling.
“Fuck!” Pan Rui Ming cried out. Not only were his attacks blocked, he also took two blows from the opponent. He immediately cast ‘Stealth’ once more.
The teenager was speechless.
Every time ‘Stealth’ was activated, Prince of Lanling would enter a state of invisibility of 30 seconds 1.5 seconds after it was activated. During this period, if he activated the skill once more, he can attack in a particular direction.
But during the period when Green Lotus Serenade was being activated, all of the attacks on Li Bai were negated.
Meaning Prince of Lanling’s attack did not connect.
Out of three skills, he wasted two of them. Only his Shadow Strike managed to slow down Li Bai. But when Li Bai used his first skill, Bottom’s Up, to cut the distance between himself and Prince of Lanling who was trying to escape, Rui Ming panicked and he lost his life.
“Fuck!” he was irritated. But the fault was on him and he could not complain at anyone. He just glared at the teenager behind him.
“Look! It’s all because of you bugging me!”
“You should have waited until he cast his ulti before attacking,” the teen said. After using Green Lotus Serenade, the skill would enter a restricted state. Only by basic attacking four times within a three second period could he unleash the skill. But if he did not meet the requirement in five seconds, the Green Lotus Serenade would remain in the restricted state.
“How would you know if he’s in the restricted state?” Rui Ming pouted.
“When the state is lifted, his entire sword would glow!” the teenager was shocked that Rui Ming would ask such a question.
“Who would even care about such details? Tell me, who are you?” Rui Ming was startled. I’ve played nearly thousands of matches, but how could I not know such a fact?
Even as he grumbled, his curiosity was piqued.
“I’m He Yu and I’m here to look for my brother He Liang.”
“Ah?! So you’re his brother! No wonder!” Upon hearing his name, Rui Ming’s face brightened. Of course, he could give me that many pointers! As the brother of a professional gamer, surely he should know about it!
“He Liang said he could go find you. Did you see him?” Rui Ming continued.
“Really?” He Yu pulled out his phone.
Hir brother’s text messages were really there.
“Sorry for interrupting!” He Yu rushed out of the door only to knock into a girl.
“I’m sorry!” he apologized.
“No worries.” the girl looked at him with a smile that made He Yu find odd. But he did not care too much about it and left in a hurry. Rui Ming initially wanted to talk to him, but seeing how the game had yet to end, he walked to the door whilst holding his phone.
But He Yu was gone. However, the girl was still there watching He Yu’s back with curiosity spelled across her face.
“Who are you looking for?” Rui Ming noticed such a pretty girl and became friendly all of a sudden.
“No one. Your blue sentinel is about to respawn. Hurry up and take it!” she said.
“What?!” Rui Ming looked down. His blue buff was indeed respawning.
“How did you know?” Rui Ming raised his head in shock, only to see her walk away.
“Because my soul is one with the game.”
The girl did not look back as she disappeared down the staircase.