Lightless grinned when he saw the endgame lobby. He won and more importantly he gained 13 League Points! Hum, would’ve really liked to see that game last a little longer. Playing with that Lissandra was really nice! I want to do that again! He clicked on CN•HOOK2’s profile and sent a friend request. A couple more games tonight would be nice. And maybe some more tomorrow… Some duo queues with him and my rank will go up fast! That’ll be great! Hum… What’s taking him so long? He canceled the friend request and sent it again. Maybe he just didn’t see it…
Five minutes came and went. Lightless sat behind his computer in the dark gaming room from Dark Glory, waiting. Just waiting. Why isn’t he accepting my friend request? Everyone always wants to add me! I’m the best mid in China after Hermes! He should want to add me! Why isn’t he… Lightless clicked through CN•HOOK2’s profile page, but that didn’t help either. He grimaced and mumbled, “Everyone always wants to play with me!” Hum, he just didn’t see my friend request. He just didn’t see it. Our synergy was too good! He’ll want to play with me! He canceled the friend request and sent it for a third time. Come on, just look at your friend requests and accept it!
The clock ticked deeper into the night, but CN•HOOK2 wasn’t accepting Lightless’ friend request. And Lightless did not enjoy that. He chewed on his lips and shook his head. He just doesn’t see it. He just… Hum, I really wanted to play a couple more games with him! Our Mid-Jungle sync was insane! That never happens! Just a few more games. Please add me! ACCEPT! ACCEPT!
Lightless clicked around, refusing to go into another game on the off-chance that CN•HOOK2 was going to accept his friend request. After browsing around the profile page in the League client, he found himself going to a League of Legends statistic website and searched for CN•HOOK2 there. His jaw dropped down and he moved closer to the monitor, blinking away the exhaustion of a long day of League. The most played Champions on CN•HOOK2’s account were Thresh, Blitzcrank, Annie and Leona. These Champions had one thing in common. They were all Supports. Holy shit! What? What are all these wins? How the fuck is this possible! Hum? Why are all these Champions Supports? Only the last few games are mids. Is he a Support main? Don’t tell me that he’s a Support main… His Mid is so good!
“Impossible. Impossible,” Lightless mumbled as he clicked on a random match history. Hum? He’s playing with another CN prefix player here… He clicked on another match history and found the same name. He’s duoing a bunch with this CN•DancingShoes? Ad-carry and Support… Hum… That makes it less crazy. Just a bit. Maybe… If he’s duo queuing then I guess it’s possible to win this much. They just both have to carry really hard. Still really damn impressive, but not as impressive. Yeah. It’s not that impressive to win every game in duo queue! I can do that too! Screw him and this stupid friend request! He canceled the friend request, and then sent it again. Dammit! I just want to play another game with you!
Lightless moaned and complained for another couple of minutes, mindlessly browsing the League statistics website. But the more he looked through CN•HOOK2’s account, the better he started to feel. The initial knock to his ego subsided. This guy is beating all the high level players on the Korean server! Duo queue or not, that’s really impressive! I wonder who those two are. Hum… CN•HOOK2 and CN•DancingShoe, I probably know them. Hermes and Nightsong? They could maybe pull this off? But… He scrunched his nose and scratched his forehead. Why do I feel like even those two aren’t good enough? No, no. They can! They’re good enough to do that. Yes. Hermes and Nightsong. Has to be the two of them. Even though Hermes doesn’t play on the Korean server… But it’s the only explanation that makes sense! Yes! He grimaced and shook his head. It didn’t make any sense to him. None of it.
Between Lightless and FatMelon’s viewers, there were more than a hundred thousand people wondering about the identity of CN•HOOK2. But none of them would link it to Lin Feng. They could find out that the name was one of the aliases One used all those years ago. But at this point, it could be anyone behind the monitor. And Lin Feng wasn’t intent on helping these people figure it out. After he finished his last game of the night, he shooed Su Xue out of his room. School was starting in only a couple of hours and he still wanted to get some sleep. He didn’t even bother to brush his teeth, taking his clothes off haphazardly and throwing himself down on his bed.
The alarm rang and buzzed Lin Feng awake only a few hours later. He pushed his eyes open, groggy, and stretched out long. “Uch, too early. I wanna sleep,” he complained, slamming down on his alarm until it finally stopped making a sound. Then he turned around to get another few hours of sleep. He closed his eyes and smiled. Just a little longer. A few more—
The door to Lin Feng’s bedroom swung open. Su Xue stood in the entrance wearing her pink Jinx pyjamas. She held a meat cleaver in her hand and rhytmically rapped the dull side of the blade against her palm. “Are we getting up, or do I need to help you again?” she asked.
“I’m going! I’m going!” Lin Feng yelped. “I’m up already! I’M UP!” He jumped from his bed and threw his clothes on. His normal hairstyle was the fresh out of bed style, so he didn’t see a reason to put more effort into that. He rushed to the bathroom and brushed his teeth, then grabbed a sandwich before running out of the door and to school. But at the corner of the street he paused and looked back up at the apartment. He grinned and mumbled, “I’m really good at dodging cleavers too!”
The first bell rang when Lin Feng bolted into the classroom. He said a quick apology to the teacher and sat down at his desk in the back of the classroom. “Hey,” he said to Ouyang and then he turned around to An Xin’s desk and repeated, “Hey!” Huh? Where’s BunBun? She’s never late…
The teacher started the class, demanding everyone’s attention. She reminded the students that the college entrance exams were coming up and that this was the most important test in their lives. That they absolutely couldn’t let anything or anyone distract them right now! And Lin Feng took that to heart. He turned his attention to the teacher following the Tang Bingyao approach. I’ll earnestly listen to everything the teacher says! That works for Tang Tang, it’ll also work for me! I’m really good at imitating people too! It was his only option to get a good score. Because between the Winter Collegiate Cup, the Korean ranked ladder and streaming with Su Xue, there was practically no time to also do his homework.
Most students in Senior Class 7 didn’t share the same devotion as Lin Feng. They were distracted by the empty desk in the back of the classroom. It was strange to call in sick so close to the college entrance exams. This was the single most important test in their lives! It decided if they were going to become professional cleaners or doctors! Yet An Xin was apparently sick enough that she gave up on these valuable few hours of class! Quiet whispers buzzed through the classroom. Their messages were largely similar. “Where is BunBun?”
The teacher asked a question, pulling everyone’s attention back to the front of the classroom. It was a difficult one. The kind that Tang Bingyao or An Xin would usually answer. But An Xin wasn’t in class. Her warm, soothing voice wouldn’t sound out from the back of the classroom. Nor would the students get to hear her happy laughter during the breaks. She wasn’t there to answer their questions in between classes either. It was quiet in the class. No one answered the teacher’s question, not even Tang Bingyao who was glancing over her shoulder at An Xin’s desk.
“An Xin called in sick,” the teacher finally said. “Her mom said she’ll be back in two days. Now, can someone please give me the answer to my question?” She paused briefly before adding, “Focus! This is important!”
It was early in the afternoon. The winter sun rose over the buildings, casting its golden glow into Senior Class 7’s classroom. It reflected off the dust particles fluttering in the air and pushed away the cold air. Students were fighting off the drowsiness, listening to their teacher drone on and on about English Literature. Snoring sounds occasionally rang out, until the teacher caught Ouyang sleeping. He received a lecture on going to bed on time and how paying attention in class set him up for a bright future.
The teacher turned back to face the chalkboard. She grabbed some chalk and wrote down how weird the word weird was spelled. It was so dull that even Tang Bingyao was finding it difficult to keep her focus on the lecture. She chewed on her pen and tilted her head at an angle where she could both look at the teacher and glance at An Xin’s desk at the back of the classroom. What’s going on with BunBun? Yesterday she couldn’t even grab some paper and now she’s sick? Something is wrong. Something has to be wrong. But what? Why won’t she tell us? Is she afraid? What can I do? Mhm—
“OUYANG! WAKE UP!” the teacher yelled, waking everyone up. “If I hear you snoring one more time, you’re going to the principal’s office!”
“It wasn’t me!” Ouyang argued, the sleep crust thick on his eyelids. He quickly wiped it away and added, “I’m paying attention! I am! You were talking about weird being weird!”
“You got lucky,” the teacher said. She shook her head, exasperated, and turned back to the chalkboard. “Nevermind. Let’s go on with the lecture.”
Ouyang grinned and nudged Lin Feng with his elbow. He leaned in closer and whispered, “Did you see that, bro? Got out of that nicely, huh? I’m Challenger at sleeping in class!”
Lin Feng blinked a couple of times, trying to stay awake himself. He looked over at Ouyang and nodded a couple of times before turning back to look at the chalkboard. Weird. Yes. Weird is weird. Right. That’s where we were…
Ouyang nudged Lin Feng again and nodded at An Xin’s desk. He whispered, “What’s going on with BunBun anyway? She sick? She looked fine last night. What do you think? Did she just sleep in and get her mom to call in sick?” He glanced at the teacher, making sure she wasn’t glaring at him again, before continuing, “She even joined us at dinner last night! I mean, she wasn’t all that talkative or anything, but no one is always. Right? She looked perfectly healthy! When did she get sick?”
Lin Feng ruffled his hair and mumbled, “Don’t know.”
“Didn’t you bring her home last night?” Ouyang asked. He pricked his finger in Lin Feng’s side and continued, “Did she tell you something? Do you know something? The bro code states that you can’t hide anything from a fellow bro! If you know something, you have to tell me! Wait, wait! She wasn’t feeling great! That’s what she said right before leaving! She must’ve told you more, right? Tell me what she said!”
Lin Feng scratched his nose and stared at An Xin’s empty desk. Something felt wrong last night. But she said she was fine… She said she was fine! I left her at the subway station… But her mom called the school, so BunBun got home safe. She didn’t look fine. That’s why I kept asking! But she wouldn’t tell me! What can I do when she won’t tell me what’s wrong? I can’t do anything if she won’t tell me! He grimaced and shook his head. “I don’t know. She told me she was fine. Just tired…” There was something more going on! Even I could tell! But what is it? Why wouldn’t she just tell me? And what is this stupid feeling in my stomach? Am I hungry…? He ruffled his hair again and focused his attention on the chalkboard. I’ll call her to check up on her later. Maybe that’ll help my stomach…
The dismissal bell rang and the students from Senior Class 7 packed their bags and left the classroom, except for the players from High School 13’s esports team. Yang Fan swirled around in his chair, while Ren Rou and Tang Bingyao walked over to Lin Feng from the front of the classroom. All of them looked at An Xin’s empty desk and then at Lin Feng.
“Maybe she caught a cold last night when going home,” Ouyang suggested. “It’s been really cold outside, but the sun makes it feel warm! Maybe she just wasn’t dressed properly and got cold! Detective Ouyang has cracked the case!”
Yang Fan shook his head. He adjusted his glasses and said, “Doubt it. She didn’t look sick yesterday and she had plenty of layers of clothes on. But she did say she wasn’t feeling too great at dinner last night.”
Ren Rou nodded and said, “If it’s not a cold, then it has to be something more serious, right? What if she’s really sick…” She looked at Lin Feng and asked, “Do you know something? Is she… physically healthy? Like, is there something we just don’t know about? Something that happened years ago and is still bothering her or something? Do you know something?”
Lin Feng shook his head and replied, “No. She’s never been sick a day in her life!” He paused and scrunched his nose. Never? That doesn’t feel right. She has been sick… Has she? Why can’t I remember? It feels like I’m forgetting something…
“How about we visit her?” Tang Bingyao asked.
Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and argued, “I’m not sure if that’s the right approach. We don’t know what’s wrong. Who knows, maybe she really just needs rest. What if we go there and interrupt her rest? She’ll need to recover longer! Let’s not do that to her.”
Ren Rou nodded and added, “What Yang Fan says. But we can’t do nothing either. How about…” She turned to look at Lin Feng and asked, “Lin Feng, how about you give BunBun a call? Ask her if she’s alright and tell her that we’re all worried about her and want to know if she’s ok. Then let us know what’s going on, ok?”
Ouyang jumped from his chair and threw an arm around Ren Rou. He then turned back to look at Lin Feng and said, “What Rou Rou says! You and BunBun have been friends forever! She has to tell you! Just ask her and then report back to us! That’s the broway!”
Lin Feng scratched the back of his head, watching Ren Rou slap Ouyang away, and finally said, “Yeah. Okay. I’ll give her a call.” I was going to call her anyway. I hope she’s okay. But… Why do I feel like I’m forgetting something? I should know this… He chewed on the inside of his cheeks. I feel like I know what’s going on with her. Dammit, Lin Feng! THINK! What is it?
The next round in the Winter Collegiate Cup was only a couple of days away. Team Shanghai was still a new team that above all needed time for the individual players to grow closer and come together as a team. So even though An Xin was home sick, Lin Feng and Tang Bingyao met up with Zhang Hao and Zeng Rui at the cybercafe. They would simply have to focus on the aspects of their game that didn’t rely on An Xin’s Jungling.
“Where is An Xin?” Zeng Rui asked. “Did she have to go to the toilet?”
“She’s sick,” Tang Bingyao replied, frowning.
Zeng Rui looked at his three teammates, and then at the empty chair and the fifth computer that was turned off. He grimaced slightly before saying, “That’s not great. I received the information for the Round of 16. It’s a bit different from the previous round. There are four groups, and two teams from each group move on to the next round. We’re in Group A together with Zhejiang University…”
“Shit!” Zhang Hao cursed. “Do we have to play them right away? What are we going to do without BunBun?”
“No, not right away. But we’re facing them soon enough,” Zeng Rui answered. “As for your second question…” He looked at his teammates and sighed. I don’t know… But we need her. The most likely situation is us having to play Zhejiang in the quarters. They’re going to make it to Nationals or we are. We need to be ready for them. And we can’t prepare for that without BunBun! We need her here for this! What are we going to do if she doesn’t get better in time? Do we need to find a replacement! We already don’t have a lot of time and I still gotta deal with the thundering dumbass! He chewed on his lips and grimaced. Shit! This is really bad. Really fucking bad!
Zhang Hao slumped back in his gaming chair and mumbled, “I just hope BunBun is going to be okay. But it’d be nice if we could also win, you know?”
Zeng Rui massaged his temples and took a deep, calming breath. He said, “We have to do our best. Four or five of us, we have to play our best and give it our all!” He turned to Lin Feng and added, “Make sure to call her. We need to know what we’re up for. If she isn’t good to play, we’ll have to find a replacement asap.”
Lin Feng nodded and said, “I will call her tonight! And I’ll let you guys know! Don’t worry too much, you’ve still got me! I’m really good at carryin—”
“Too,” Zeng Rui finished the sentence. “Yeah, yeah, we know. But we need our coach and Jungler to win. Just call her and find out how she is and when she’ll be back.”
Lin Feng nodded a bit slower than before. I know… I know. Just trying to lighten the mood a little. I’m sure she’s okay. She has to be! She’s BunBun! She’s always there for me! We need her now, so she’ll be there for me again! It’s how it always goes! It’s how it has to go! He took a deep breath and said, “Okay. I will.”
Shanks Almost Got into a Long Distance Relationship?
Today’s chapter was brought to you by Sietse’s fantastic mood! My mood is so good that I even went ahead and merged another two chapters (302 + 303)! That’s right! This is yet another double chapter!
Shanks Thought: I was trying hard to think about what would be a good April Fools joke for today. Ran through a couple of ideas in my mind. Have Rise do a genre swap and have Lin Feng ascend into a cultivation novel. Make a big announcement that I’ve become a father, and I’ll be stepping down from Rise to fulfil my fatherhood responsibilities. (The mother is not on the Rise team). Or something extra stupid, like me coming to Jesus again after basking in the degeneracy that is Rise for so long. I’d try to convince you guys to convert with me, and that I’d be picking up a new novel called, “Rebirth of the Messiah that Saved the World.”
But yeah, none of those ideas really landed for me as an April Fool’s joke. So, I thought I’d tell you guys something more believable. You can think of it as an April Fool’s joke or not. Up to you. Back when I was in the Netherlands, there were two days where I went off to explore on my own without Sietse. I let him do his thing for those two days. He let me do my thing.
The truth is, I met a girl at that time. Not a Dutch one. She was also a tourist visiting the Netherlands for the first time. And she was from Canada too, so we hit it off. We added each other on Facebook, and we’ve been chatting with each other on and off ever since. And slowly, over the course of time, I fell in love with her. The other day, I finally bit the bullet and asked her out. She said yes, and her feelings were mutual. So yeah, I said I’d never get into a long-distance relationship. But here I am now, going into one. Wish me luck.
Sietse Thought: Something more believable → Shanks saying he has a girlfriend. I want to laugh about it, but I’m also hoping really hard that it’s true, ya know? One of those things that’d be so nice! And there is some truth to what he says. He did go explore a few places on his own! I had to go to the gym and he didn’t want to tag along, so he wandered through the city. It’s a big city. There are a lot of tourists. And believe it or not, but Shanks is the type to walk up to someone and talk to them if he wants or needs something.