notes: This is the final chapter! The first scene (letter) and last scene (conversation) are original, the rest is adapted from prequel chapter 8.
(About one year has passed since the end of the last chapter.)
After a year, your whereabouts remain unknown to me, and so this message, like the others I have written, will likely never reach your eyes. I suppose I'm still foolishly holding out hope that after I retire, you will no longer have a reason to avoid me, and we can talk and laugh like the old times.
I'm sure you keep updated on the Glory pro scene news, so I'm sure you saw that Blue Rain failed to make playoffs this year. The club had all but told me to give up on the League battles this season, and instead prioritize raising those two youths. I did my best on both fronts; I don't want to make excuses. Still, I feel that I failed you, and I hope that you may forgive me.
I know that I will go down in Glory's history as a mere placeholder, Blue Rain's weakest captain – that is, if I am lucky enough to be remembered at all.
But history will remember the names of Yu Wenzhou and Huang Shaotian. Of that, I am sure.
Over the course of this past year, I have watched them grow into skilled players capable of facing any challenge on the professional stage. Each season thus far has brought new and incredible rookies to the stage – Season 2 saw Hundred Blossoms' Blood and Blossoms, Season 3 saw Tiny Herb's Magician. Although I don't know what the other teams have in store, I know that our rookies, Blue Rain's dual-core, will earn a name for themselves in Season 4.
They really are quite remarkable. I have played only a small role in helping them develop; most of their growth has been self-driven, a result of their own innate aptitude and determination. Still, even though it will never be widely known, my role in building Blue Rain's future is something I will carry close to my heart.
For me, this is enough.
"Hey Wenzhou, can I borrow a pen?"
Yu Wenzhou, who was in the middle of watching a match recording, wordlessly passed one over without looking away from his screen.
"Oi, listen to this. Season 3 Playoffs: The Magician's Arrival!" Huang Shaotian read, in a dramatic voice, the front-page headline of the latest edition of E-Sports Weekly. "Magician this, Magician that. With how much they talk about him, you'd think that there wasn't a single other player in the playoffs this year…"
This caught Yu Wenzhou's attention, as he was, in fact, currently studying one of Team Tiny Herb's recent matches. "Could you let me look at that after you?" Yu Wenzhou asked.
"Sure. Oh, and here's your pen back, too." After handing them over, Huang Shaotian stretched his arms, tucked his hands behind his head, and leaned back in his chair with a sigh. "I can't believe that guy got so good so fast. Remember when we met him, I thought he was all talk back then, but I guess he really has some skill, to become captain and use a god-level account in his debut year. That was the only change in Tiny Herb's roster this season, and that alone bumped them up to third in the regular season. Of course, we're still gonna kick his ass when we meet next season…"
As he listened to and filtered through Huang Shaotian's chatter, Yu Wenzhou scanned the newspaper article. He didn't comment on the "o_0" scrawled over Wang Jiexi's face; this wasn't the first time.
Yu Wenzhou remembered, of course, the youth from Tiny Herb with mismatched eyes, whom he and Huang Shaotian had met during the Excellent Era versus Hundred Blossoms match in Season 2. Back then, even though their conversation was short, Yu Wenzhou remembered feeling that this Wang Jiexi would make a formidable opponent.
With his debut in Season 3, Wang Jiexi had directly become Tiny Herb's captain and user of their powerful core character, the Witch Vaccaria. Initially regarded as a challenger, by the end of the season, he was called a conqueror. His unpredictable, inimitable playstyle earned him the nickname "Magician," and he defeated pro after skilled pro as the season progressed. Fans speculated that Tiny Herb would be the ones to finally dethrone the 2-time defending champions, Team Excellent Era.
There wasn't too much in the article that Yu Wenzhou didn't already know. After finishing, he merely said, "Wang Jiexi was certainly the standout rookie of the year, with that unique Magician playstyle of his."
"You… Is that all you have to say?" Huang Shaotian seemed dissatisfied by this bland response.
"I remember when we met him, you two agreed to meet onstage this season. Are you upset that you had to break that agreement?"
"Yeah, a little, maybe. But it can't be helped." Huang Shaotian let out a sigh and sat up straight in his chair again, fixing him with a stare. "Got any good analysis on him? Insight on how to counter him?"
"He-" But Yu Wenzhou had hardly gotten that single word out before the door to the training room slammed open, and one of the new trainees tumbled inside.
"Shaotian! The tech team just completed a silver weapon for Troubling Rain! Captain wants you to go look!"
"What? Holy shit, seriously?" Huang Shaotian's eyes got comically wide, and he leapt out of his chair. "Then what are we waiting for? Let's go let's go let's go!" he yelled, charging out of the room, completely forgetting about the question he had asked Yu Wenzhou.
Yu Wenzhou only smiled and shook his head. He was about to go back to watching his video, but the trainee that had called Huang Shaotian spoke again.
"Wenzhou, aren't you going too? They're saying that they only managed to complete this silver weapon because a mysterious player sent a whole lot of rare materials to Blue Brook Guild!"
Hearing that, Yu Wenzhou froze. "A mysterious player?"
"Yeah," the trainee confirmed. "Someone in-game, they don't know who."
Yu Wenzhou's gaze drifted across the training room, landing upon that one computer that hadn't been touched in almost a year.
After their former captain had made that simple announcement of "I'm leaving," the seat he had used was left empty, his computer left idle. The Blue Rain members reached a tacit agreement that no one would touch his spot, as though hoping that one day, as suddenly as he had left, that man would return and take his place once more.
But… you haven't really left, have you.
Many times over the past year, Yu Wenzhou had replayed the events of that fateful day, when he had defeated Wei Chen in three consecutive matches. That had been a turning point in his life, marking the start of when people began to recognize his Glory ability.
During the battles, Yu Wenzhou had known, in some corner of his brain, that there would be consequences to what he was doing. But at the time, he had disregarded those worries. He had been caught up in the thrill of battle and the fierce determination to prove his worth, once and for all. It wasn't until later on that he realized the full extent of the psychological impact his victories must have had on the former captain. Wei Chen was the type of person to hide behind laughter and boisterous scolding, but his emotions were still very much real.
To feel your abilities slipping away through professional battles. To hear the media's analysis of your apparent aging. And then one day, during an ordinary practice evaluation, to be defeated three times in a row by some nameless youth who was deemed to have no hope of ever making it to the pro scene.
Of course, he didn't know how much those defeats had factored into Wei Chen's decision to leave. Perhaps he would have retired after this season anyway; it was impossible to know. But still…
Looking back at that day, Yu Wenzhou knew that he had been selfish, and the tiniest bit vindictive. The right thing to do would have been to throw the last match and leave the captain's pride intact – damaged, but intact. But after many sleepless nights of thinking, Yu Wenzhou concluded that if he had the option to go back, he would do the same thing all over again.
Did that make him a bad person? He didn't know.
…I'm sorry, Captain Wei.
"Wenzhou, are you coming or not?" The trainee's impatient voice cut into his melancholy thoughts.
"I'm coming," Yu Wenzhou answered, gathering his notebook and pen. The trainee was leaning against the door as he waited, and Yu Wenzhou noticed that he was fiddling with something in his right hand, fingers moving restlessly.
"Is that a Rubik's cube?" he asked.
"Huh? Oh yeah." The trainee held it out for Yu Wenzhou to see. His fingers didn't stop moving as he continued to nimbly twist the edges with casual flicks. Although he was only holding it in one hand, he didn't drop it, and a few seconds later, the cube was solved.
"You have a high handspeed," Yu Wenzhou noted, impressed by the display.
The trainee stuffed the cube in his pocket. "That's something I'd rather discuss with Shaotian…"
Yu Wenzhou chuckled; he was well known within Blue Rain for his inescapably slow handspeed. Of course, by now, no one would think to mock him for it. Despite this handicap, he still won many matches, demonstrating remarkable talent that was more than enough to make up for his weakness.
As for this trainee, he wasn't really insulting Yu Wenzhou with that comment; he was simply the mischievous type. Captain Fang Shijing had mentioned that he liked this trainee's style; Yu Wenzhou suspected that this was a major reason for his recruiting this youth from the Challenger League into the Blue Rain training camp.
However, even just considering raw skill and potential, there was nothing to criticize about Captain Fang Shijing's choice. In fact, if they only took his right hand into account, this trainee's APM was even higher than Shaotian's.
Yu Wenzhou didn't otherwise respond to the trainee's teasing, and simply stepped out of the room. "Let's go, Fang Rui," he said, and the two of them made their way down the hallway.
For any professional team, the technical department was the most heavily guarded secret area. Information on how the team's silver equipment was developed, or the specifics of their stats, could not under any circumstances be allowed to leak to the public.
After Wei Chen pulled the prodigy Huang Shaotian into Blue Rain's training camp, Blue Rain's technical team gained a new top priority – developing the silver equipment for Huang Shaotian's Blade Master, Troubling Rain.
And today, they completed the most important piece of this most important work.
A silver weapon. A self-made weapon from the equipment editor, specially made for Troubling Rain, specially tailored to Huang Shaotian's playstyle.
This wasn't something that an ordinary Glory player could have made by just throwing together rare materials in the editor. Most silver weapons made by ordinary players weren't any different from normal weapons. But this was a true silver weapon, one that elevated its user's stats far beyond what any normal weapon could hope to accomplish.
When Yu Wenzhou and Fang Rui entered, they found the room completely silent. Everyone was crowded around one computer, and most didn't even bother to look up at the sound of their entrance. With effort, Yu Wenzhou maneuvered through the crowd to a vantage point from which he could see the screen.
The screen displayed this precious weapon – a light saber, slowly rotating. The blade looked like a crystal raindrop, elongated and sharpened; it glowed with threads of pale blue light and wisps of mist. The hilt was silver, a graceful swirl, coated with just the faintest patterning of white frost. At the top of the screen was the weapon's name: Ice Rain.
This was a work of art, elegant and deadly.
This was the weapon that would raise Troubling Rain to godhood.
Yu Wenzhou stared at that stunning weapon for an indeterminable amount of time. The silence in the room was finally broken by Huang Shaotian, who, despite his talkative mouth, had only one word to say.
Standing right beside him, Captain Fang Shijing said to him, "Try it out."
Huang Shaotian nodded sharply. In a flurry of movement, he equipped the weapon on his character and entered a match in the Arena.
No one paid attention to his poor opponent; they only saw the flashes of blue from the sword in Troubling Rain's hand. They watched it dance, jump, kill. Blood droplets scattered across the ground as his opponent fell.
"This is fantastic!" Huang Shaotian's talkative self was finally back, and he jumped up onto his chair. "With him, next season I'll give them a show! What Battle God, King of Fighting, Blood and Blossoms, Magician… Just you all wait!"
"Alright!" No one moved to stop Huang Shaotian's excited movement. All of the Blue Rain members, staff and players alike, had been awaiting this day for a long time.
This season, Wei Chen had retired and Blue Rain hadn't even made it to the playoffs. To outsiders, it seemed as though this team's days of being a powerhouse were over, that they were now fading from the spotlight.
But no one within the team believed this.
Even if their record this season was poor, even if they were forgotten this summer. No matter what, they had faith that Blue Rain would have an era that belonged to them. And this era, with the birth of this silver weapon, was about to begin.
"It's up to you, Shaotian!" one of the technical workers said, and others immediately voiced their agreement.
"Do you even need to say that? Of course!" said Huang Shaotian. But just that one battle wasn't enough for him to fully try out this new weapon. He quickly sat back in his chair and entered a new battle, this time chattering away at the tech workers sitting near him as he experimented with his new capabilities.
By this time, Captain Fang Shijing had quietly made his way through the crowd to stand by Yu Wenzhou.
"Are you ready?" he asked, abruptly.
Yu Wenzhou turned to look at him. But Fang Shijing was staring out the window, gazing at that brilliant blue sky beyond.
"Yes," answered Yu Wenzhou, calm and sure.
"Then it's time to entrust this to you." As he spoke, Fang Shijing's gaze shifted down to his hand, and the account card it held. Without fanfare, this card was passed to its new owner.
"From today on, you are the captain of Team Blue Rain, user of the Warlock Swoksaar." Fang Shijing smiled, eyes filled with hope. "You will do well. For all of us, bring Blue Rain to glory."
That evening, as Yu Wenzhou sat writing at his desk in his room, there came knocking – well, more accurately, banging – at his door. "Come in," he called.
Huang Shaotian entered, letting the door click shut behind him as he came to stand by Yu Wenzhou. He cleared a space on his desk, then hopped to perch on the edge of it, dangling his feet above the ground.
"I saw Captain Fang talking to you today," he began, without preamble. "Did he…?"
"Did he what?" asked Yu Wenzhou, meeting his gaze calmly. He had to tilt his head up a bit to look at him properly, but this wasn't the first time Huang Shaotian had barged into his room like this and claimed his desk as a chair.
Huang Shaotian huffed. "You know what I'm talking about." From a pocket, he produced an account card and tapped it onto the desk. "Come on, Wenzhou, let's see it let's see it!"
Yu Wenzhou obliged, removing the account card he had been given that day and setting it on the desk next to Huang Shaotian's. "I don't know what you're expecting to see," he said, a note of amusement in his voice. "It looks just like any another account card."
"Yeah, but it's the spirit of the matter, you know?" Huang Shaotian reached out and ran his finger over the name on Yu Wenzhou's card – Swoksaar. "Man, I never asked Captain Fang, but Old Wei never let me touch his card. Said I'd probably break it. How does it feel to inherit a god-level account, huh?"
Yu Wenzhou hummed. "A lot to live up to, I suppose. But," he tapped the other card, Troubling Rain, "you have a god-level of your own now, too."
Huang Shaotian's eyes lit up at the reminder. "Shit, you have no idea. With that new weapon, I feel like I've been reborn, I can take on anything. It's incredible. It's the most incredible thing I've felt in my entire life."
"I'm glad to hear that, Shaotian."
"Come on, you can pretend to be more excited than that!" Huang Shaotian said, poking him. "But wait, so then, if Captain Fang gave you that today – we have no more battles this season, what's he planning to do?"
"He's announcing his retirement at the Blue Rain end-of-season press conference in a few days," replied Yu Wenzhou.
"And you'll be our new captain?"
Yu Wenzhou hesitated for just the barest moment before nodding.
"Captain, huh. Captain Yu Wenzhou." Huang Shaotian tested the sound of the words, and nodded. "I like it, I can get used to calling you that. The club made a very wise choice, making you captain."
"You-" Yu Wenzhou's voice broke; he coughed and tried again. "I thought – Did you not want captaincy yourself?"
"What? No, not at all," Huang Shaotian replied vehemently. "You're smart and nice and responsible and a good leader, you'd do a much better job of it than me. Let me just cut things up and PKPKPK!" He emphasized the last shout with a punch to the air, which earned a short laugh from his friend.
But looking at Yu Wenzhou's expression just then, those faint lines of worry, and almost fear… Another thought came to his mind, one that he couldn't just ignore. At this point, he trusted his partner implicitly, but back then…
"What's up?" asked Yu Wenzhou, looking at him. Huang Shaotian blinked, realizing that he had spaced out, letting an uncharacteristic silence grow between them.
"Ah…" He almost brushed it off as nothing, but… this was something that he needed to say. "I'm sorry for how I acted during training camp," he said, quietly. "I know that I was a jerk, and a lot of what I said to you was incredibly rude and really uncalled for, and I – I didn't realize it at the time. I'm sorry."
"Mm…" Caught off guard by the statement, Yu Wenzhou seemed unsure of how to respond. After a few moments of silence, he said, "It hurt, sometimes. But I forgive you."
He began fiddling with Swoksaar's account card on the desk. "I wasn't the nicest to you back then, either. But you've changed a lot over these past two years, as have I. In a good way. You've made up for your past behavior. And, overall," he tapped Swoksaar's card on top of Troubling Rain's, "I'm glad to be able to work with you."
Huang Shaotian swallowed. "I… thanks, Wenzhou." It was probably more generous than he deserved.
Yu Wenzhou studied him for a moment, then added, "You're vice-captain next season, by the way."
"Wait, really?" That made Huang Shaotian perk up.
"Captain Fang was going to tell you today, too, but you were caught up in testing out your silver weapon."
"Oh. Whoops." Huang Shaotian laughed sheepishly. "But this is good, I like this arrangement. Swoksaar and Troubling Rain! The two gods of Blue Rain! The dual-core of Blue Rain!" He paused. "We need a good catchphrase for our fans to shout, you know?"
"I'm sure that will come in time, if we earn it."
"What do you mean 'if', of course we will!" Huang Shaotian hopped off the desk to stand up tall, raising an imaginary sword to the air. "Our combination will be unstoppable! Those Glory pros won't know what hit them! If not this summer, then next summer, or the one after that – those championships will belong to our Blue Rain, and we'll be the ones to make it happen! Right, Captain?"
Huang Shaotian had been making this passionate speech at no one in particular, but at that last question, he turned to look at his companion.
With a start, he realized that Yu Wenzhou was smiling – not that polite and patient and placid smile he always wore, but a real smile, one that showed real happiness. Huang Shaotian could probably count the number of times he'd seen him smile like this on one hand, which was a shame, because it really was a nice smile.
"That's right." And Yu Wenzhou smiled at him, with that wonderfully genuine smile, and Huang Shaotian felt himself grinning even wider.
"We will have many, many summer days of Blue Rain."
At its core, Blue Rain is a team of hope. 我们还有很多个属于蓝雨的夏天.
This is the longest project I have ever finished, and I'm very proud of it. If you enjoyed reading this, please leave a review!