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Death Marks and Last Breaths

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“Orion’s gonna go in right now! I’m telling you, Fatty, he’s going to try something!” Read XIII screamed into his headset. He was still in the QQ call with Tian Tian, watching Lightless’ stream of CN•HOOK2’s final game from the Assassins’ Gaming House in Taiwan. 

Tian Tian nodded once before replying with a rare seriousness, “I see it. But I know Lin Feng. And knowing him… he’s probably planning on making a move too! Both Lin Feng and Orion have an opportunity here… The real question is who is going to grasp that chance first.”

Read XIII cleared his throat and grimaced. “Listen to me, Fatty. Assassions has gone up against Warriors plenty of times, I said that already, right? I’ve gone up against Orion enough times to understand him. He’s a rotten bastard and a prick. Out of all the Midlaners I’ve seen, he’s unique. Little shitter has a micropenis and he’s constantly overcompensating for it with aggression. That’s his personality and his playstyle. Just an aggressive asshat.”

The Mid lane was the shortest lane on Summoner’s Rift, and the one with the highest experience because it took less time for the minion waves to arrive. In high ELO games and in professional play, Midlaners almost never attempted taking down their counterparts alone. It was simply too risky. If something went wrong during the engage, or they went in too deep and got flanked by the Jungler who came in for a gank, recovering from that was nigh impossible. The only time a player would attempt to make such a reckless decision is if they had complete and utter confidence in their skills and mechanics. 

Orion was a unique Midlaner who possessed both the confidence and recklessness required to attempt a play like that. He was the only one in the current circle of World-class Midlaners would would consistently attempt to solo kill his lane opponent in an evenly matched situation. And shockingly enough, Orion’s success rate at the play was insanely high. He had honed his skills to the point where they compensated for the risk. 

The topic had come up in an interview with Orion. His reply was, “What? You think I’m being too aggressive? You wanna know why I play so recklessly? OH! You think it’s risky to go in like that, yes? Haha! Who told you it was risky? One of these analysts that sit around talking about what we do because they figured out they couldn’t play as good? Hahahaha! Listen! Apart from Rake, because he’s just a monster, there ain’t a single Midlaner I can’t win against! It’s not a risk when I know I can win, you feel me?”

That interview summed up everything that went on in Orion’s head during a game. If he decided to go in for the kill, it was because he knew he could get the kill. There was no risk in his mind. And he had justified his supreme confidence on multiple occasions. Even the Moon Emperor had been solo killed by Orion in the past on a few rare occasions. 

Tian Tian considered Read XIII’s assessment of Orion for a minute. Then he said, “I-hm. I-I’m not… What I mean is, I don’t know Orion that well. Definitely not as well as you know him. But I know Lin Feng! I believe in Lin Feng! He can take Orion. Back in his prime, when everyone knew the name Maple, Lin Feng wasn’t scared of anyone! He’d always go in for the kill and he’d always get it. Orion might be confident, but Lin Feng is more confident than him! I know this for a fact!”

“Alright, alright, Fatty. Simmer down. I know you believe in Lin Feng. If anyone’s got a shot at taking that arrogant son of a whore Orion down a few pegs, it’s Maple.” Read XIII took a deep breath and then continued, “Zed versus Yasuo. Ninja versus swordsman. Fuck, it’s like I’m watching an old school Japanese film!” He looked at the match-up in mid and muttered, “If those two really are about to go at it soon, we’re gonna be in for one fucking hell of a show!” 

“Tension is definitely building up to something,” Hermes said with a quick glance at Nightsong. “But it’s hard to say what’s going to happen… or who is going to come out on top. Both Zed and Yasuo have more than enough damage to kill each other, which makes this a question of skill. Which one of the two is the better player… that I don’t know. But…,” Hermes paused for a moment to look at Nightsong again. His eyes flickered with mixed emotions. “If I was playing this game right now, I’d give myself a 40% chance of beating Orion in this scenario. Less if he’s the one to make the first move and set the tone of the fight.”

Nightsong rubbed his eyes. “Well. Shit. Yup. Shit. I don’t know why we expected anything different from Orion. He’s an angry little dog. Constantly yipping and trying to prove he’s just as big as the other dogs. I’m actually surprised that he’s held back this long, especially after what happened at the start of the game. That should’ve gotten him all riled up. But for such a yippy little shitter, he’s not all bark and no bite. His laning and mechanics are really at the highest level. Man’s got a big dick and he wants the world to know it. You know what I’m really curious about, Herm? If these two really go at it, I wonder what choice Hook2 is going to make.”

Lin Feng was indeed at a fork in the road, and he needed to pick one of two possible paths. He watched Orion’s Zed and understood exactly what was happening. Lin Feng knew exactly what Orion wanted to do, he could read it in every move that Zed made. Orion wanted a fight. And Lin Feng had to decide if he was going to give Orion that fight, or if he was going to continue the deadlock in the Mid lane. Fight or wait for his Jungler to arrive for a gank. Fight or wait for the rest of his team to scale. Lin Feng continued to watch Zed as he considered the options. 

I could keep things even with Orion long enough for everyone else on my team to catch up. That’s not even that hard. But it’s slow. Too slow. Every second counts right now. I need to end this game quickly before the ranked ladder closes! That makes the choice very simple. Lin Feng took a deep breath and the fire in his eyes blazed with ferocity. Alright Orion! You want to see which of us is more skilled? That’s fine by me! Nothing would make me happier than making you regret this moment! 

11 minutes since the start of the game. Gragas was spotted in front of the Baron Pit, walking up the river. He was trying to gank Top, but his advance was discovered thanks to one of the wards that Blue Team had placed down. Lulu, the Top lane champion for Blue Team, immediately noticed and started backing away to safety. 

CN•HOOK2’s Yasuo immediately moved to the top side river brush in the Mid lane to drop another ward down, and cautiously started to move back into the lane to continue farming minions. 

It was precisely at this moment that Lightless Heart remembered that he was a streamer, and that there were more than a million viewers watching his stream right now. He cleared his throat quickly and started talking to his viewers. “That was a smart move by Yasuo right there. The ward that he just put down gives him enough vision to look out for Gragas, who could very realistically double back and gank Mid instead. At this level of play, everyone has phenomenal map awareness. Right now, Gragas is probably aware that Lulu is starting to back up. So he’s also aware that his gank was spotted by a ward somewhere and that it’s going to fail, and he’s starting to consider other options. If he goes down to Mid, Yasuo is in real trouble. Gragas has both Explosive Cask and Flash up right now. Even though CN•HOOK2’s Yasuo is a super mobile Champion, there’s a high probability of death with a successful gank from Gragas! But CN•HOOK2 considered all of that and put the ward do—” 

Lightless Heart immediately stopped talking. Just as Yasuo returned to the middle of the lane after placing the ward, Zed sent a Living Shadow out at him. Then Zed switched places with the Living Shadow to arrive right in front of Yasuo!

Lightless’ eyes flew open as he screamed, “IT’S STARTING! This is the big fight we’ve all been waiting for!” His chat was dead silent as everyone focused completely on the game.

Orion’s Zed went in immediately after switching places with the Living Shadow. He slashed into Yasuo with an auto attack. 

CN•HOOK2’s Yasuo didn’t back down. He retaliated with a swift Steel Tempest, and then chained that into a Sweeping Blade to dash to a Red Minion standing behind Zed. As soon as Yasuo reached the Red Minion, he threw up a Wind Wall behind him, right between him and Zed!

Just before Yasuo started dashing to the Red Minion with Sweeping Blade, Zed had started to cast Razor Shuriken. Right as Yasuo reached the Red Minion, both Zed and his Living Shadow threw out crimson red shurikens. But the Wind Wall that Yasuo had thrown up blocked the shuriken thrown by Zed, and Yasuo quickly sidestepped around the shuriken thrown by the Living Shadow. 

The chat in Lightless Heart’s stream erupted into cheers.

Orion’s pupils constricted in front of his monitor. Both his shurikens had been avoided! 

“That was beautiful!” Hermes cried out.   

“Yasuo can get the kill here!” Read XIII exclaimed in the QQ call with Tian Tian. 

After avoiding both of Zed’s shurikens, Yasuo dashed back to Zed with another Sweeping Blade! He had closed the gap between them before Zed could react, and stabbed out with Steel Tempest again. Yasuo blade pierced through Zed just as he started backing away with a critical hit! Zed’s health dropped precipitously as he ran away in an attempt to create some distance. At this point in the fight, Yasuo had the advantage with more health. 

Zed’s Living Shadow was still on cooldown, so his only option was to retreat on foot. Unfortunately, Yasuo was just a little bit faster and caught up to the fleeing Zed. Yasuo’s blade bit into Zed with a basic attack and then a second Steel Tempest. Winds gathered and raged along the length of Yasuo’s katana.

Zed kept retreating towards his Outer Tower, and Yasuo kept chasing him. Then Yasuo dashed to a Red Minion just in front of Zed with Sweeping Blade, completely cutting off Zed’s escape. Yasuo turned around to face Zed and slashed out with a third Steel Tempest! The winds that had gathered along the length of his katana flew out towards Zed as a whirlwind. 

The whirlwind howled and raced towards Zed. But just as it reached him, Zed disappeared! He had activated his ultimate ability—Death Mark. The whirlwind raced past where Zed used to be and then fell apart into a harmless breeze. Four blood red Living Shadows converged on Yasuo from the cardinal directions and left an ominous crimson mark on his body! 

“Orion managed to turn it around!” Lightless cried out, his face paling. “Yasuo can’t use his ultimate now. Orion’s seized the upper hand in this fight!”

12
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Storytime with Devshard

Dev Thought: There isn’t a lot happening this week in my life, so I was sitting here wondering what to talk about in the thought. Shanks abandoned me for some sausages hours ago. So it’s just me here. This week’s been kinda hectic and busy. My parents left for India today. They’re going for a couple of weeks to get some of the shopping for my sister’s wedding out of the way. And also because they haven’t been out of the house or really gone anywhere since lockdown started a year and a half ago. So lots of packing, figuring out COVID paperwork and regulations and testing, all that good stuff. Which is why it’s been a slow week in terms of activities and attention to other stuff going on in the world.

But I do have a fun story that happened way back when I was in University. I went to Purdue, which is in the middle of no-where in Indiana. Literally. There’s nothing around the Purdue campus besides cornfields. If you drive several hours past the cornfields, there’s Indianpolis. It’s not exactly the most exciting city in the world, but it’s a change of pace from Purdue. More importantly, there was only one Indian restaurant at Purdue when I went there. You get real tired of eating at the same place over and over and over and over and over again, trust. So when I was in my second year, my friends and I decided to drive over to Indianapolis one night to get some different Indian food. Seemed like a decent enough idea and we had very little going on. It was a boring Wednesday night.

So we piled into a car and I volunteered to drive. Not because I really wanted to do the driving, but because my buddy Rohit was coming along. He’s one of the nicest people in the world and a great dude to hang out with, except on car rides. Something happens to his gastrointestinal system the second he sits down in a car and he starts releasing a constant stream of farts. Not the loud one that you laugh about with the bois. He produced truly noxious and toxic fumes from his bunghole silently. The kind of farts that are thick and hang in the air, and they’re so dense you can taste them. Sitting next to him in a car is an actual war crime. I experienced it once, and vowed it would never happen again. When you’re in the front seat and driving, the A/C blows the air back towards the backseat, providing air insulation against Rohit’s assault. Pun intended.

Anyways. I’m driving down the lonely road surrounded by cornfields on the winding way to Indianapolis, and it’s like 7PM. But this is winter time in the Midwest, so it’s dark as shit outside. Out of nowhere, I see this weird little spazzy dog run out onto the street. I swerve to avoid the dog and go half off the road. The stupid dog decided to try jumping at the car for some reason and bounced off my hood. We stop and run out to make sure it’s okay, and the dog was completely fine. Left a huge dent in the middle of the car’s hood, but was apparently unharmed by the whole thing. He just seemed super excited to have people to play with all of a sudden. We couldn’t see any houses around, so we didn’t know where the dog came from. In the middle of discussing that, I take a lap around the car to make sure nothing else went wrong. And it did. I popped a tire by going off road. And when we tried to change it out for donut, we didn’t have the key for the lug nuts.

Best part about this entire debacle is that the area we were stuck in was a dead zone. None of our phones had any signal. That’s when my other friend Scott suggested we follow the spazzy dog, who would hopefully lead us to where he lived or at least some other house where we could make a call. And that’s what we did because no one else had a better idea. We walked down the road a bit with spazzy dog in the lead, and eventually came to a kinda rundown house. It had lights though, and we could see a TV on through one of the windows. We figured lights and a TV meant they had electricity and a phone that we could use to call someone to help us with the tire. So I walk up to the house and ring the bell. An old-ish looking woman answers, and I explain the situation. She had no idea who spazzy dog belonged to, but she was more than happy to let us use her phone to call for help. I didn’t know who to call exactly for this situation, so I called the cops and told them where we were stranded. They said they’d send an officer over to help us out.

Then I explained to the old-ish and kinda toothless woman that we can’t change the tire because the lug wrench needs another bit on it to take the bolts off the tire. She goes, “Ya need a key!” Then she walks into the living room and yells at someone named Sherman to come out and help us. Sherman comes out, and this dude was literally the human version of spazzy dog. But he grabs a toolbox out of his truck and walks back with us to our car, changes out the tire, and then walked back to his house. We were trying to get spazzy dog into the car when the officer we called earlier pulls up.

We explain that we followed the dog to a house down the road, and the nice people there let us use their phone to call and then helped to change our tire. The Officer goes, “You went to a house down the road? A very old looking house?”

I say yes and start talking about the old couple that lives there. And he stops me to ask if we ate or drank anything in the house. We all say no. And then the Officer explained to us that the “old-ish” woman was not, in fact, old. And the house that we’d followed spazzy dog into was a “Trap house”. We didn’t know what a trap house was back then, but the Officer filled us in. A trap house is an abandoned or generally run-down property that drug dealers use to sell drugs to people who want to use them. The trap house we wandered into was focused mostly on crack cocaine and meth. Sherman, the guy who helped change the tire, was spazzy because he was very high on methamphetamine. But he did a pretty good job with the tire, so all-in-all happy ending. The Officer was pretty mindblown that we willingly (and ignorantly) walked into a trap house in the middle of no where, hung out with a bunch of junkies, called the police from their landline, and then got car help from the junkies without getting shot or robbed.

I blame the whole thing on spazzy dog. He’s the one that took us there. We dropped him off at a shelter and warned them not to follow him anywhere.

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