First Published on Chaleuria
097 – Wake up, you both!
Lost Love Cliff was a popular battleground in Genesis. There was a very simple reason for its popularity: if someone couldn’t beat their opponent, they didn’t have to die under the enemy’s sword. They could just jump off the cliff.
One must die with dignity.
The showdown between ‘Class 4 kneel down and cry uncle’ and ‘Class 3 are my grandsons’ quickly gained steam and drew a big audience.
“Lower right corner, inventory,” He Zhao said. “Gym rep, hide in the back. If you can’t make it, jump off the cliff. Hao-zi, go up and help guard him for a while… which one on that side is Liang Hui? I’ll deal with him.”
He Zhao had already collected several heads since the battle had commenced. His tactics were underhanded and he moved on the battlefield with ease.
Liu Cunhao rushed up and guarded the new Level 5 account with his own avatar. “Your Old Xie is already dealing with him.”
╰→ I’ll get addicted to thinking of you was leading a solo onslaught against the enemy camp.
Although Xie Yu had not played this game for a long time, Zhou Dalei had spent all his free time looking up new combos and showing off to Xie Yu. “Boss Xie, look at this combo. I’m calling it the Blade of Lei-zai. What do you think?”
Xie Yu was merciless. “I think it’s tacky.”
Zhou Dalei: “……”
Liang Hui was so boxed in by the warrior with the idiotic handle , he couldn’t move. In the short span of five minutes, Class 4’s numbers were half-depleted.
The back and forth was so intense that for a while, no one could see the game background. The screen was filled with skill effects.
“He’s badly hurt. One more.”
Before the people around him could react to what he said, Xie Yu continued, “He’s dead.”
Liang Hui had good equipment. He had probably spent all his in-game effort on acquiring expensive equipment, but although his avatar looked resplendent, he didn’t actually use it very well.
By this time, Xue Xisheng had finally taken a healing potion. After recovering HP, he used several skills that did basically 0 damage, showing off a new Level 5 account’s determination.
Twenty minutes later——
A system alert. ‘Class 4 kneel down and cry uncle’ has defeated ‘Class 3 are my grandsons.’
This victory was damn sweet. Liu Cunhao’s voice was hoarse from yelling, but in the moment of victory he shouted, “Victory, my brothers! We’ve won!”
Liu Cunhao’s loud shouting was giving Xie Yu a headache. He reached to pull off his earphones, but not before hearing an even louder string of curses. “Do you want to die? Have you finished your homework? You’re playing games?”
Liu Cunhao had yelled so loudly his dad and mom had come looking. They pushed open his door and started scolding him.
Liu Cunhao was scolded into submission. He said, more quietly, “Mom, just ten more minutes… I swear, it’s true.”
On another line, another parent was saying something unexpected.
“You’re done? You could play a little longer with your classmates. This game looks pretty fun. Should you buy some equipment? I saw other kids buying it… If you want something, just buy it. Mom will give you money.” All of Class 3 was shocked speechless by this parent.
Then they heard Xue Xisheng say helplessly, “Mom, no need. I’m not playing any more. I’m going to study vocab.”
Liu Cunhao really wanted to cry. “How can people’s situations be so unequal?”
Xie Yu, one hand still on the cord of his earphones, started laughing alongside the others in the chat. Aside from Liu Cunhao, who was still bemoaning the unfairness of fate, everyone else was laughing wildly.
He smiled as he let go. He was about to exit the game when he heard someone from Class 4 say something in the public chat.
We dare to gamble, so we dare to lose.
Their class had proposed the competition in the first place, so now they had to admit defeat.
Although they had bowed and admitted defeat, Class 4’s guild chat was very different. Liang Hui was so mad his keyboard clacked as he typed, and only when he hit the enter key did he realize he had sent it to the wrong chat.
A line suddenly appeared in the global chat.
The class with the lowest average in the year. Of course they’re good at video games. /Heh heh
The conflict between the two classes had started with the basketball tournament, but now it was getting more and more out of hand. They were at an age where their blood ran hot and they couldn’t control their feelings.
Xie Yu’s hands stilled.
This event had already upset him, and upon seeing these words he felt rage overwhelm him.
Class 3’s group chat went quiet. Then someone couldn’t take it any longer and cursed. Then it exploded. “What the hell do they mean by that?!”
Before Class 3 could curse any more, a familiar, aesthetically unusual handle appeared in the global chat.
╰→ I’ll get addicted to thinking of you: Do you want to die?
Xie Yu had just sent it when a similarly styled handle appeared, too.
﹏Enchanted with love for you〆: The upcoming midterms. Open your dog eyes and see clearly who your father is.
All of Class 3: “……”
Class 3 had never imagined the ones to talk trash first would be the two students whose grades were most worrying. Even Xue Xisheng hadn’t yet said anything.
The boast was an impossibly arrogant one. It was presumptuous, grand, and inexplicably made their blood run hot. But none of Class 3 let it get to their heads.
Luo Wenqiang’s voice was shaking. “No, really. You sound very cool saying that, but do you have to boast like that? Do you know what you’re saying?”
Wan Da said, “—Wake up! Please, you two, wake up!”
Liu Cunhao said, “Zhao-ge, you really shouldn’t be too arrogant!”
The mid-term exams were less than two weeks away.
There had been one monthly exam since term started up again. In that monthly exam, these two students—whose bottom-of-the-year positions even thunder could not move—had pulled their scores up a little, although it wasn’t much improvement.
Class 3 was happy for the time being, but now they thought about the usual studying habits of their class’s two big bros, and they had every reason to suspect they had just gotten lucky at blindly guessing answers.
Class 3’s reactions were too strong, and Xie Yu and He Zhao couldn’t get a word in though they tried. With much effort, He Zhao finally managed to say in bits and pieces, “It’s fine. Even if they have a 30-point head start we’ll still win easily. Actually, Old Xie and I…”
Before he finished, Class 3 left the voice chat one by one.
[Luo Wenqiang left the voice channel.]
[Liu Cunhao left the voice channel.]
[Xie Yu]: ?
[Liu Cunhao]: Goodbye. I heard ‘30’ points and really can’t go on. Even if they gave us a 30-point head start, we probably couldn’t win. For the sake of our class dignity, I’m going offline and I’m going to study.
[Wan Da]: I’m going to study too.
[Luo Wenqiang]: Studying.
Everyone left, until only Xie Yu and He Zhao were left in the voice chat.
He Zhao wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry. At the start, he was just angry and was trash talking alongside his little friend. But now that he had said it, he had been planning to explain things to his classmates. Who would have expected that none of them were willing to listen? “What happened to trusting your fellow man?”
He Zhao was done being thoughtful. He called out, “Old Xie.”
“The plan from before. Gradual…”
Xie Yu exited the game, took out his earphones, and cut him off. “Gradual, my ass.”
Liang Hui’s words still filled his head.
Xie Yu was annoyed beyond belief and very enraged. All his worries about the burden of slackerdom were now burned clean away by the fire of anger. Only one thing remained in his mind: just beat the idiot and be done with it.
He Zhao let go of his mouse and said, “Sure. Let’s do it.”
The class group was very quiet over the weekend and nearly nobody said anything. Some people emerged to ask the study rep homework questions, but when they were done, they vanished again.
“Also, there’s a bag on the table. Take it back to school with you when you go. Don’t forget.” Early Monday morning, Gu Xuelan drank a few mouthfuls of congee and then put down her spoon to continue talking to Xie Yu. “They’re health products I bought you. To keep up your nourishment.”
Xie Yu felt his phone vibrate. He opened the app and saw the study rep explaining a geometry question to Luo Wenqiang. He glanced at it, then put down his phone and continued eating breakfast.
Gu Xuelan asked, “A classmate?”
Their conversations often went like this. Before, Xie Yu would not have noticed anything amiss. He was taciturn by nature and would rather do than talk. But since he had hashed things out with Madam Gu, he had begun to pay more attention to what she meant.
After a while, Xie Yu continued, “Our study rep is explaining questions in the group chat. A few days ago…”
Xie Yu wasn’t good at telling stories like these and covered the video game fight in several sentences, blandly delivered. But Madam Gu was still very happy to hear it and even asked out of curiosity, “And he doesn’t do anything else in his free time?”
Xie Yu said, “His entire life consists of studying.”
There was a traffic jam on the way back to school and by the time Xie Yu got to class the bell was about to ring. Class 3’s classroom was so quiet it was a little strange. Very different from usual when he could hear his classmates making noise from a long way away.
Xie Yu got to the rear door and saw that some words had been written on the rear blackboard. The words were large, red, bold, and went straight to the heart. Change our fate!
He Zhao arrived late, too, and ran into Xie Yu in the doorway to the classroom. He stopped walking, one hand on the doorframe, then reached out and put an arm on Xie Yu’s shoulder. He bent slightly and said, “What are you waiting around for? You’re not going in?”
He Zhao glanced into the classroom and saw the words ‘Change our fate.’ “What is this… the blackboard report for this semester?”
Xie Yu asked, “You think the school would come up with such a topic?”
Class 3 was studying especially hard today. Everyone had their heads buried in their books. Wan Da walked in, having just finished cleaning duty, and He Zhao beckoned to him with a finger.
Wan Da put down the cloth. In his other hand was a small vocabulary book. “Morning, Zhao-ge.”
He Zhao said, “Morning. Friend, explain this?”
“Ah, Hao-zi wrote this,” Wan Da said. “He said it would encourage everyone. We can’t give up hope. This mid-term exam will be our last stand against the odds.”
Class 3 flatly refused to believe He Zhao and Xie Yu could get good grades of any sort. At most, they expected the two of them to accidentally get several more questions right, like on the last test, and it would still fall to the rest of them to pull up their class average themselves.
In the morning, they gathered for an emergency class meeting. They imagined the worst-case scenario. Even though this goal was difficult to reach, it wasn’t completely impossible.
Liu Cunhao held a piece of paper in one hand, the other drawing circles on it with a pen. “Let’s imagine. If Zhao-ge scores 10 points this time around…no, let’s be more conservative. Let’s go with 0 points! Then, each of us has to score another…”
Wan Da was about to go back to studying when he heard He Zhao say, “What do you mean, against the odds? Old Xie and I have no issues getting a perfect score.”
Even the usually taciturn Xie Yu said, ‘Mm,’ in assent.
Wan Da nearly tripped. All sorts of emotions were flowing through him. He had no idea where their sudden delusional self-confidence had come from. “Are you both mad?! Are you dreaming? Please, wake up!”
Xie Yu: “……”
He Zhao: “……”