Identity - Part 3

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Once he got inside his room, Lin Feng sat down on his bed. He was tired, but there was something he had to do before turning in for the night. Which is why he was sitting on his bed thinking instead of lying down and immediately knocking out. What time is it right now? Hm… that means that it’ll still be morning in Los Angeles… Lin Feng considered what he wanted to do for another few seconds, and then pulled out his phone. He scrolled through until he found the person he wanted to call, and pushed the call button.

The call connected after two rings, and a familiar, carefree voice rang out. “Hello?”

As soon as Lin Feng heard the greeting from the voice at the other end of the line, he stopped slouching and sat up straight. His expression turned respectful, and his tone reflected that same respect as he spoke. “One! I did what you asked me to do! I kept my promise!”

“Oh, that. Yeah, I heard. Good job, good job.” One said, laughing. 

The approval in One’s voice and his praise was more than enough for Lin Feng. His face lit up with joy and he pumped his other fist into the air while exclaiming, “Yeah!” That was all he could say out loud. What he really wanted to say was running through his mind. Everything I’ve gone through over the past couple of months… all of that was nothing. I’ve gone through this before. I worked myself to the bone over and over again during Season 1! I can take this much pressure and come out on top, I’m already more than used to it. I just needed to remind myself who I am, who I was. But this was all worth it… I’d do it all over again if it means One’ll acknowledge me. All the pain and pressure means nothing compared to One’s approval! And I didn’t let One down! That’s what matters most here. I proved to One… and myself that I’m still Maple! I’m capable of being better than anyone else in this current era. It doesn’t matter that the scene changed and that things are way more competitive than they were in Season 1. I’m still just as good as I was back then! 

Lin Feng took a deep breath to calm himself down. Then he continued talking to One, “You know what really sucks, One? The plan was to shoot for the Top 3. That’s where I was aiming. I just ran out of time…” As he trailed off, Lin Feng’s voice was tinged with regret. This wasn’t Lin Feng overestimating himself or making an excuse. He really was planning to get into the Top 3. And he knew that if he had time for a few more games, he could’ve continued riding the momentum from his victory against Orion into the Top 3.

One chuckled. “No big deal. It’s fine, really. Rank 4 ain’t bad. Besides, it’s not like it makes a huge difference if you climbed into the Top 5 or Top 3. There weren’t many other OGN pros apart from Orion playing last night. There’s nothing more you have to prove to yourself, and nothing more you could’ve proved by getting into the Top 3 last night.”

Lin Feng froze for a moment as he processed what One had just said. Then, he nodded and said, “That’s true… there really weren’t many players from the top of the OGN playing last night before the ladder reset. Now that I think about it, that’s probably why there wasn’t too much resistance on my climb. Orion was the hardest opponent I faced off against. If there were more professional players in the queue, I don’t think I could’ve gotten any of my win streaks.” 

The depths of the Korean Challenger pool were far deeper than they appeared to be during Lin Feng’s climb. There was a reason so many Chinese players had failed to get into the Top 10 or Top 5 for so long. And Lin Feng knew that luck contributed to his seemingly effortless climb. He was more than aware that there were several other players in the OGN who could’ve pushed him aside and ruined his climb. None of these players were weaker than Orion, and some of them were significantly stronger. Players like Fate’s Moon or SSK’s Rake.

“Enough about ranks and bragging rights for now! There’s something else I want to talk to you about. Your last game, that was the one you played against Orion, right?” One asked.

“Yeah.” Lin Feng replied.

One chuckled briefly before asking, “So? How’d it feel?”

Lin Feng took a few seconds to figure out what One was asking. Then he replied, “Orion… he was really strong. But he was cocky in the beginning, and that made him careless. That’s why I was able to snowball against him and win the game.”

The game last night sent shockwaves running through two regions, and thousands of players were making assumptions about the mysterious player who had beaten Orion. But Lin Feng didn’t let any of that talk, or his victory, go to his head. He knew that he only managed to triumph over Orion last night because of many factors that worked together to give him an advantage. The simple truth here was that all of the players talking about his match against Orion were wrong. The skill that a King possessed was something completely beyond the comprehension of ordinary players. Lin Feng was not an ordinary player, and he understood how and why things played out the way they did.

Lin Feng stayed quiet as he thought about the game for the first time. He was silent for so long that One decided to break it up by asking, “Well? You gonna keep thinking about it or tell me what happened in that game?”

“Right! Yup!” Lin Feng said as he shook himself out of his own thoughts. Then he cleared his throat and said, “Well, in any matchup where you have Yasuo and Zed, everyone knows that Yasuo is the slightly stronger champion. And there’s no way that Orion doesn’t know that. If he was playing more cautiously, he would’ve never gone in for a 1v1 at Level 6. That was his first big mistake. I think he figured that he could make up for the difference with pure skill. His plan was to go in and outplay me in that duel, and then use that to zone me out completely and win the game. But since he wasn’t careful enough to think about how I’d react, it didn’t go his way at all. My Yasuo ended up killing his Zed, and that’s where I got enough of an advantage to snowball into victory. Orion got a lot more careful after that first death, but that was too big of a mistake.

If Orion had been more cautious and played like he would against a professional opponent in a tournament game, it would not have been that easy to win against him at all. And there’s a definite chance that I would have lost that game to Orion.”

After hearing Lin Feng’s analysis, One smiled. “It’s good that you’re aware. I was a little worried that you’d get all big-headed after winning against a top OGN pro player. But you know what happened in that game, and that’s good. I’m not going to lie to you, kid. Your progress so far has been phenomenal and deserves praise. But you and I both know that it isn’t enough. You gotta keep working hard. The faster you can get yourself back to your old prime, the sooner we can start thinking about how to get you even better than that! Besides, the LPL badly needs some new blood right now. You need to shock them awake real quick. Plus, I want to keep bragging about my successor in front of your uncle. Keep pushing, Lin Feng!”

“My uncle…?” Lin Feng asked, stunned.

One laughed. “Yup. Your uncle, Lin Songshi. He called me up last night, sounded like he was conflicted about your return. I know the two of you have your issues, but deep down, he’s got a lot of hope pinned on you. Don’t let him down.”

Lin Feng didn’t know what to say, so he stayed silent. My Uncle called One… A few seconds later, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Then he exhaled. When he finally opened his eyes, they were burning with determination and resolve. He’d finally figured out what to say back to One. “I understand.”

The next day, Lin Feng woke up early in the morning after getting a good night’s rest. He stretched his back, opened his eyes, and was back in his normal high spirits. He hopped out of bed and into the bathroom to brush his teeth and wash his face. 

Lin Feng finished his morning routine and walked out of the bathroom just in time to see Su Xue walking out of her room. “MORNING SU XUE! Wait… woah. Why are you up so early?”  

Su Xue looked at Lin Feng with blurry red eyes. Truthfully and technically speaking, Su Xue did not get up early this morning. She’d barely gotten any sleep at all last night. Since she didn’t go to sleep, she didn’t get up. She’d been up all night. And now she was looking at the reason for her lack of sleep. Su Xue rubbed her eyes with her palms and looked at Lin Feng again. She had two very large dark circles under her eyes. “Oh, yeah. It’s morning… I’m… up.”

Last night was not a good one at all for Su Xue. She could not stop thinking about what Lin Feng casually revealed to her over a chicken cutlet, that he was Maple. She could not comprehend how she was living with someone who used to be China’s best player. Or that he’d played against some of the best players in the world, including Phoenix and Rake. Lin Feng’s history swirled around in her head all night and left her completely unable to sleep. She tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable enough to stop her mind from racing. She’d even resorted to counting sheep for hours until her eyes were bloodshot, but sleep continued to elude her. 

As morning arrived, Su Xue finally had enough of trying to sleep and decided to get out of bed. She wanted to go to the bathroom and cover her face with a hot towel. Which is when she ran into Lin Feng as he walked out of the bathroom. 

When Su Xue saw Lin Feng again, her expression flickered with mixed emotions. Now that she finally knew who he was, his real identity, she didn’t know how to look at him anymore. He isn’t an ordinary kid who just happens to be really good at League of Legends. Nope! He’s a freaking legend who was even more amazing than Daybreak Hermes! And I’ve been living together with him the whole time! No one is going to believe this. I don’t even believe it! This is not something that happens to real people at all. I could probably go write a webnovel about this on the forums, that’s how unbelievable it is!

Su Xue’s mind was filled with all sorts of chaotic thoughts. She only snapped out of her daze when she noticed Lin Feng waving his hand in front of her face. “W-what, what are you doing?”

“Oh, I was planning to go out and buy some breakfast. Do you want me to get you something too?” Lin Feng asked.

Su Xue nodded slowly. “Oh, sure.” Then she suddenly thought of something and said. “Right. You’re not doing anything today, right? How about you come and help me stream for a bit?”

We're cowards.

Dev Thought: So obviously, there’s a whole lot of things going on in the world right now. Most of them don’t make any sense, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles, I guess. Anyways, since there’s a whole “special military operation” going on in Ukraine, I figured that Shanks, Tas, and I should go volunteer to help them out. The Ukraine Government is asking for volunteers to help them in their time of need and airfare to the region is DIRT CHEAP. Besides, we might never get the opportunity to see a military deployment of this size in our lifetime again. I thought it’d be a fun bonding exercise. We’d go do some good, see what the whole thing is like, come up with a bunch of translator thoughts and stories to tell you guys, it was going to be a generally good time.

So I pitch this idea to Shanks and Tas. Their response was not what I expected. Tas backed out literally the second he realized that I was being serious and not joking. He believes that going into an active war zone is “too risky”. Shanks also backed out, but for a very different reason. Apparently, Shanks does not want to fight against the Commies because he’s Chinese and also a Commie. My good buddy Shanks thinks that a Chinese person fighting for Ukraine would cause an international incident, and he doesn’t want to risk further escalations of geopolitical conflict. That’s why he’s going to be sitting this one out.

So, ya know, long story short is that we will not be headed to an active war zone in Eastern Europe and will continue to be around to put out chapters. While tacking on goofy translator thoughts. Sigh.

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