Fight On! Be the Best!

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“I’ve had my fun. It’s time for you kids to make your move.
“I’ve had my fun…
“I’ve had my fun….” 

The words echoed in Lin Feng’s head, bouncing off the sides of his skull. Booming through his ears. Just a few words, but they carried so much meaning. Three wasn’t old. Far from. But his years in the spotlight had come to an end. He’s had his fun… time for me to make a move…

Lin Feng was so caught up on those two sentences that he almost missed the next. Three’s voice rang out through the phone, “There’s no room for an old fart like me. I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame. It’s time you young’uns take the lead. Step up and find your own paths! Don’t let anyone tell you how to do it. Do what you think is right.”

Three was passing on the torch. Lin Feng understood how important this was to his old mentor. And how important it was to himself, too. He listened in earnest. Soaking it all up and giving it a special place in his mind. He’d had his fun. It’s time I have mine.

“Fatty should be good for now. Your little speech really helped him fight through his own head. He looks good. I think he’ll keep up his performances and become one of the Seven Kings. But that’s not enough. I won’t be happy with just that. We’re better than that. We got the talent! I expect at least half of the Seven Kings and Four Emperors to come from the LPL! Anything less is a failure! But more than all of that. You. You’re good, kid. You’re really good. There’s a reason One saw something in you. You know he was the best in the world? He was better than me and everyone else. And he saw something special in you. You’re the special one. Follow in his footsteps. Make him proud.”

Lin Feng took in every word. When Three spoke of Fatty, he smiled. It was great to hear his friend doing so well. And then came the last few sentences. One was the best. And he was One’s protege, so he had to become the best too. That was his dream. He was going to give everything he had to achieve that, no matter how hard it was. “I understand.” He nodded, earnest. Then he grimaced. “I lost to Rake once. He’s got to enjoy that long enough. It’s about time I beat him back”

There came a chuckle from the other side of the line. “That’s what I was hoping for. I’m looking forward to it. But. What are you doing right now? Fatty said you’re doing some school stuff… What’s that all about? Some kiddy League tourney?”

“Oh, that.” Lin Feng scratched the back of his head and chewed on his lips. “The Shanghai 16 School Tournament…”

“Why? Ah, nevermind. Sure. Have your fun with that little tournament. But when that’s done, you’re coming back, right? You can easily find a second rate team to brush your skills back up. A lot of the veterans still know you. They’ll have you in a heartbeat! Do one season in the LPL with that team and then move to one of the top teams. It should be easy for you. Is that what you’re going to do? Or what’s your plan?”

“No. I want to start from scratch. I’m starting all over.”

“Starting all over… Why?”

“Yes! It’s going to be a fresh start. I’m going to build a new team and start at the bottom. We’ll climb our way up to the top, one step at a time.”

Lin Feng was incredibly talented at League of Legends. So much so that even when he was out of practice, he was still more than good enough to make his way into a lower ranked team in the LPL. If he familiarized himself with the new competitive scene and found his groove, he could even make his way up to the top of the LPL in a relatively short time. However, he didn’t care about becoming just a professional player. Or just one of the best professional players. He only had one goal. To be the best League of Legends player in the world. Anything else could only be considered a failure. And he didn’t think he could reach that goal if he jumped right back into the competitive scene. It didn’t feel right. If he wanted to become the best, he needed to do something different. That was why he wanted to build a team from the ground up. To grind his way through the different leagues and fight his way into the LPL and finally Worlds. He believed that only by doing all of this could he work his way to the absolute top.

The number one player in the world, who took the throne of Sovereign all the way back in Season 1, hadn’t sat idly by all these years. He’d worked hard to become better and better. Rake of SSK was fully deserving of his title. And it wasn’t just him, but his whole team that played together perfectly. There was no random team that could beat them. Lin Feng couldn’t magically find synergy with four players and beat this team. It was with all of this in mind, for example, that he chose to compete in the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. A challenge. An opportunity to prove himself. To himself. Step by step he would get stronger and build a team around him that had perfect synergy. They would push past any setbacks and he would take the throne. Sovereign Lin Feng!

“Haha! That’s some mindset, kid. Sounds like you’ve been doing some soul searching these last few years. Hmm… I agree. One didn’t make a mistake. He was right about you all along,” Three said.

For the first time since Lin Feng’s departure from the professional scene in Season 1, Three understood why One had let Lin Feng go. I was so disappointed. I didn’t even see… Back then, Three morphed his disappointment into anger and resentment. He hated that Lin Feng gave up and wanted to quit! But he wasn’t allowed to stop Lin Feng. One stopped him. One forced him to let Lin Feng go. For the kid’s own good… To let him find his own path… To come to terms with everything that happened… He felt these were all excuses. And not especially good ones. But when he listened to Lin Feng now, over the phone, he understood. One was right. All those years ago, One made the right call. Because the person on the other end of the line didn’t sound like the boy he remembered. This man was like a treasured sword, tempered under years of real life. His edges were sharper. His cuts more precise. But he was always good at that. The real difference was that he now also knew when to sheath that sword. He’d learned the skill intimidation. For the real danger wasn’t in the known, it was the unseen blade.

Lin Feng and Three spoke for a while longer, but they were both lost in their own thoughts. They barely listened, nor did they talk much. After hanging up, Lin Feng put his phone away and stared at his feet, the silence of the dark night around him magnified. Then he looked up into the sky. The faces of his friends, both young and old, and the scenes of everything that had happened flashed before his eyes. The pain and heartache on one side versus the joy and happiness on the other. He took a deep, long breath, bit on his lips, and then hollered out into the night sky, “FIGHT ON! BE THE BEST!”

Lin Feng grinned, still looking up at the moon. So that’s why wolves do it, huh? I feel great! He looked in front of him and started walking again. That was when he noticed the faces. There were only a couple other people in the street. But they’d all stopped walking and were just looking at him, as if he were a severe mental case. He rubbed his nose and started laughing, only reaffirming what the other pedestrians thought. Then he started running, sprinting, racing home as fast as he could.

It was already late when Lin Feng got home. He pushed the front door to his apartment open and shouted inside, “I’m home!” Then he sniffed, loudly. A strong and fragrant aroma assaulted his senses. He started salivating as his eyes widened and pure bliss appeared on his face. Expectation. Hunger. Deliciousness! “Ohhh! That smells amazing! I want!” He kicked his shoes out and rang to the dining table. Su Xue had prepared all sorts of dishes, with steam coming off of them. It was a feast to his culinary eye. “Wow! That’s … That looks amazing! Can I? Can I?”

“Lin Feng! Put your shoes in the rack! Go and wash your hands! Hey! Don’t touch the food with your fingers!” Su Xue yelled as she came walking out of the kitchen with another steaming plate. Then she asked, annoyed, “Do you know how late it is? Why didn’t you call me? Where were you!”

Lin Feng scratched his hair. “Oh, uhh… The tournament only started at 7, and then it ran way later than I expected. Sorry, haha.”

Su Xue put the hot plate down on the table. She looked over at Lin Feng, a little curious, and asked, “So. Did you at least win?”

“Hehe! Of course we won! We won all three matches and are through to the next round! It was great!” Lin Feng laughed.

“Oh? Not bad. Not bad at all.” Su Xue nodded, impressed. Then she ruffled his hair and said, “But whatever. It’s just a little kids tournament. Nothing to get excited about. You know what is something to get excited about? Today’s games at Worlds! Like O.M.G, you missed the best day of Worlds! KG and HoG did absolutely phenomenal. And God Roundy was so cute! He carried and everything! Come come come! Let’s eat! I prepared this feast to celebrate!” She showed Lin Feng all the different dishes she’d made. Most of them were some kind of chicken. She knew he liked that. “Oh, right.” She paused for a moment and added, “I suppose we can celebrate your wins too.”

“Ok! Sounds good!” Lin Feng ran to the table, his hands still wet after washing them. He didn’t care what this meal was for. This wasn’t a celebration for him or for KG at Worlds. This was a celebration of food! And he would enjoy and savour every second of it! He grabbed his bowl and filled it with a chicken curry. All the while, Su Xue narrated the events that’d happened at Worlds, “Ok, so. When you were playing your games, right? The most amazing things happened at Worlds! KG played so good! You should’ve been here! It was like… Ah! I don’t know! But it was super amazing!”

Su Xue didn’t eat a bite herself. She waved her arms around and tried to show everything that happened. To the point where she grabbed some items around the table to make a replay of the best scenes, like the five man Hecarim ultimate. “See? See? Like this! That’s how God Roundy did it! Amazing, right? Only he could do that! I was holding my breath the whole time! It was too exciting! And his Riven! You should’ve seen his Riven. It was like. And he beat Demon so easy. But like! Ah!” She fell silent. She remembered something and looked up at Lin Feng. “Hey!” 

“Mhmphpg?” Lin Feng mumbled, his mouth full. He didn’t even bother to look up at her as he took another large bite from his chicken curry.

“Hey! HEY! YOU!” Su Xue yelled. She pushed up and reached across the table, pulling Lin Feng’s face up by his chin. Leaning forward, she stared into his eyes and screamed, “ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING? WHAT DID I SAY? WHAT?”

“H-hruh? Whagh?” Lin Feng asked, bewildered and scared. Some food spilled from his mouth, together with that nice, thick sauce.

Su Xue let go off Lin Feng’s chin and wiped her hand clean. “You’re disgusting! Stop talking with your mouth full! Also…” She stared at him and hesitated. Then she looked away for a moment before mumbling, “Also, I’d like to learn how to play Riven. Think you can help me with that?”

“Learn Riven?” Lin Feng asked, tilting his head. “Why?”

“Yes! Yes!” Su Xue nodded, frantically so. “I really want to learn Riven! Did you not listen? God Roundy was so good on his Riven! I want to be that good too! And those degens in my chat said that I can’t. They keep saying I suck! Screw them! I’m good enough! I can play her! I’ll show them! But please, I need you. Help me teach those degens how wrong they are!”

“Mhm-mm. I see…” Lin Feng nodded. He rubbed his chin, rocking back and forth and pretending he was deep in thought. All the while his eyes were locked on the stir-fried eggplants. How do I get them on my plate without her yelling… 

“What do you see?” Su Xue asked, nervously.

She sounds distracted. Now! Lin Feng reached out for the stir-fried eggplants with his chopsticks and grabbed one of the bigger ones. Then he put it in his mouth and started chewing, enjoying every bite. “Mhm-mm!” He rubbed his belly and looked up at Su Xue with a large smile on his face. The food was eaten. She couldn’t take it back! Now he could tell her, “Oh, I think your viewers are right.”

The table became quiet. Lin Feng held his chopsticks still, waiting. Su Xue just stared at him. His words had caught her completely off guard. Of everything she’d prepared for, this wasn’t it. Then her face turned red and she yelled, “You little punk! Think I’m stupid! Are you itching for a beating? Did you miss them these last few days? Get your ass over here! Let me slap some sense into you!

“HEY! Don’t run! Stay here!

“Dammit! Get your ass over here! I’m going to slap those cheeks red if it’s the last thing I do!”

Sietse's Halloween Story (Pt 2 of 2)

Sietse storytime, part 2/2: The first night came to a fiery explosion. But we slept great. The Sun was up the next morning and most people were happy again. We did our normal stuff as planned and after dinner, it was time for the night game. This time it was a scare walk through a poorly lit forest. A different one. There were checkpoints where teachers were waiting to scare the kids. (side note: There were like seven kids too afraid to go, so they stayed inside.)

We were split into smaller groups of five. My best friend and I were in one of them. Everyone knew what was happening. We were looking out for the teachers waiting to scare us. When we were walking in the forest towards one of these checkpoints, we actually spotted it off in the distance. A lone car with a teacher standing next to it. My friend and I dropped back a bit, just before the teacher spotted us. They were too caught up in their act and the idea of scaring a new group.

So they started up their spiel without noticing that the group of five only had three kids. Meanwhile, my friend and I doubled back around the car and watched all this go down from the other side. The other three kids were led to the trunk of the car while the teacher went on with some scary story about a body in the trunk. Then BANG! The trunk flew open and the second teacher who was “dead” jumped out. The three kids got scared for a couple of seconds, and then everyone laughed and relaxed.

This was the moment my friend and I were waiting for. The perfect moment to pounce. We wuz ninjas, appearing from the shadows, shimmering out from the infinite darkness. We closed in on our targets from from behind them. No one spotted us, no one heard our silent footsteps.

And when we were almost at the car, we started yelling and screaming. Man, it was so absolutely satisfying watching both teachers almost wet themselves. They were scared shitless. I still remember their names and faces. It was a good camp for me.

Dev Addendum: There’s the Sietse Thundercock we know today. As a child, he mentally and physically dominated two adults. Those poor saps probably never got over it, and never ended up with a relationship after. Because they were always scared that Sietse would pop out an inopportune moment. Huffing and puffing and blowing their tents down (if you catch my drift). Man. You think you know a guy and then you accidentally find out he’s this Demi-God who sprang forth from the loins of Adonis. Sigh.

By the way, there’s more to the Origin Story of Sietse Thundercock. I don’t know if we mentioned this before, but he’s actually European nobility. Descended from a family of actual Knights. But that’s another story for another day and another thought…

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