03 | EL



last edited: 15.03.18

T/N: In case you need to refresh your memory: GLOSSARY (recommended). Also, I will underline the in-game usernames to distinguish between their real name and in-game name in this chap (only) cuz there’s a lot of names being thrown around here so it might get confusing.


After all the hard work and effort placed in, An Si Dong was able to completely collate all the pieces for the T0 Vestments of the Devout before the gathering. Finally, with the two pieces of Prophecy gear she received from Qu Wei En, she managed to look like a decent Holy Priest.

Every time she partied with Wan Shui Qian Shan, their tank and priest pair made it very easy to find other DPS positions. Their farming afterwards had also proceeded with ease. A lot of the lower-levelled players around were the side accounts of the high-levelled players. Of course, there were occasional cases where they’d bump into some legitimate rookies. During which, teaching them a few moves on the spot wasn’t too difficult a task for the two of them.




Even though the gathering was at two in the afternoon, An Si Dong was already anxious ever since she woke up in the morning. Mao Yin made fun of her anxiety: “Going for an orgy? Wear that outfit you wore the other day you went out in the middle of the night and go shock their balls off.”

What orgy… her filthy mouth could never utter anything decent. After Mao Yin brought it up though, her hand that had been stretching towards the mini skirt retracted, and changed instead for a normal t-shirt and coupled that with calf-length pants and heel-less trainers.

The girl in the mirror looked very skinny and undersized.

An Si Dong felt a little glum. Despite the fact that she was 1.60 metres tall in height, not fat, and didn’t have too short legs, why was it that she still looked like a stumpy wintermelon? Especially after coming to this northern city to attend university, as far as her eyes could see, 1.80 metres guys and 1.70 metres girls were in such abundance it felt like she was a little dwarf who got mixed into a bunch of humans. What she was thankful for though was that she wasn’t short to the extent of a Gnome.

Why was it that some people had to grow to such heights for no reason whatsoever? They’ll just waste rice when they go to the canteen, and kebab when they go to stalls, so won’t it be so much better to share some of that height with her!

Boarding bus number 22, she reached the gathering point. Though it was still early, there were already quite a number of people around gathered in twos and threes chatting away. A vibrant and handsome guy stood at the entrance shouted loudly: “Sign in sign in! Those who’ve just reached sign in here!”

Inching over slowly, she found her own ID on the sign-in list and ticked it. Wan Shui Qian Shan’s ID was very close to hers, but the space beside it was blank; he wasn’t here yet.

“So you’re Dong Gua MM?” The vibrant handsome guy flashed her a charming dimple and his pearly whites, “I’m Nai He Qing Shen.”

She returned with a courteous smile: “Hello.”

—That handsome guy didn’t appear to be very Qing Shen (情深)*, but rather more of a Qing Sheng (情圣)*.

* Wordplay: An Si Dong is making reference to Qing Shen (情深), which is the last two words of Nai He Qing Shen (奈何情深), by using its meaning: deep love/romance (i.e.: committed boyfriend kind in this case) and pointing out that rather than appearing to be the committed boyfriend type, he appeared to be more of a Qing Sheng (情圣), which means lady-killer/player/an expert with romance.

There was a need for every organisation to have a communications and publicity liaison where there are specialized personnels specifically in charge of this sector. They are often known as the head, spokesperson, ambassador, or mascot. With regards to FREE, Nai He Qing Shen was the one who played a role like that. However, she wasn’t clear whether he was considered the head, spokesperson, ambassador or mascot, or a combination of all four.

No wonder Nai He Qing Shen was so well-known. One look at him told her he was the showy and influential kind of person. It was also hard to not to be known given his good looks, awesome gameplay, high-key ways and high on-camera appearance frequency.

It was said that he was a uni student in charge of a faculty in school, even the student council had traces—very active ones at that—of his participation.

“Dong Gua MM’s here? Where where where?” A rowdy voice neared before an unknown species vaulted over. Along with his green cap over his hair, a nose ring through his nose, and his blaringly conspicuous presence, he popped up in front of her. “Didn’t get to see the other time, so I’mma look properly this time—oh, I forgot to introduce myself, I’m Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo*.”

Bro, your entire being arrogantly blinks of ‘You Definitely Will Not Be Unable To See Me*’!

* Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo (his username) means “you cannot see me”; An Si Dong is contrasting that with his “you definitely will not be unable to see me” appearance that runs completely opposite to the meaning of his in-game username

An Si Dong greeted him, and Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo proceeded to haul a few more guys over. “This is Liu Ru Mei, Si Ye, Ah Li Ba Ba and Shou Ji Diao Ce Shuo.”

Liu Ru Mei, a bashful guy with medium height, was the shy kind to easily blush in front of girls. Si Ye was apparently named so as his girlfriend was crazy about Zheng Shao Qiu’s “Make Bitter Qianlong”*, though he himself was a far cry from being anything similar to Qiu Guan*. Ah Li Ba Ba was a guy with a youthful and rounded baby-face, quibbling that Ah Li would be the name of his future son. As for Shou Ji Diao Ce Suo-kun, whom she wasn’t very familiar with, he had a normal appearance, the only thing was that he had already extracted three different phones as he conversed with them.

* 《戏说乾隆》= “Make Bitter Qianlong” is a Chinese wuxia/historical/romance drama. Zheng Shao Qiu (少秋) is the leading actor in the 1991 version.

* Qiu Guan (秋官) refers to Zheng Shao Qiu. “Guan” here is used as a suffix.

“Can’t help it. My phone drops into the toilet bowl too often so I need to buy some backups.”

She stared at the four faces before her. “Why do I feel like you guys look so familiar? Have we met before?”

Si Ye covered with irrelevant talk: “We’re all students, it’s pretty normal to have seen each other before. I think there’s something’s up over there, I’ll just go over and check…” With that said, he lowered his head, all ready to slip away.

That head-lowering action finally had her memories stirring. “You guys! That night at the kebab stall outside North Gate!” The sneaky bunch who kept peeping and spying on her.

“Hehe, hehe…” The four of them laughed dryly very in-sync-ly.

Si Ye teased her: “Dong Gua MM, why are you dressed so plainly today, you should show the P University dudes we T University have beauties too!”

“Exactly exactly, they’d stared at you so hard their eyeballs almost fell out that night, gag.”

“Weren’t you also the one who’s saliva had been dripping all over the floor.”

A species topped off with blaring green popped over. Raising his chin, he donned an extremely wretched smirk. “That day was a date, today’s a gathering. How can they be the same?”

Suddenly, a muted thump sounded, and the people around felt as though the room gave a shake. Their sight, upon turning around, was greeted with Qu Wei En walking in while rubbing his forehead. “Why’s this door frame so low?”

Even though the discrepancy between their in-game characters and real-life personalities were large for the three guys, the largest discrepancy, it appeared, however, seemed to be the female Gnome Mage QWE classmate.

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo wiggled his brows. “Walking without even looking at the door, your eyes must have been busy staring at something huh.”

Qu Wei En walked straight over towards An Si Dong. “How come you came here first on your own? I still went to your dorm to look for you.”

Bro, when have we cultivated such strong bromance? To the extent we’ll leave together even without agreeing we’ll leave together?

Si Ye and company very in-sync-ly and very overly kindly and considerately evaporated, leaving the two of them staring at each other down. Qu Wei En pulled over a chair by the side. “Let’s sit first, they’ll only start a while later.”

It just happened that someone near the stage shouted: “The stereos aren’t working, anyone here knows how to fix it?”

An Si Dong immediately raised her hand, jumping up. “I know!”

She had once organised an event in this multi-function room before. The sound system here was gifted by a company that specialised in producing these gadgets. There’s nothing much to say about its performance but its cable jacks work differently so it was pretty inconvenient to use it.

The person who was currently working with the stereos was a shi jie*. She was slightly taller than her, had a slender figure, slightly tanned skin. Though she had a pretty average appearance, she appeared very experienced and capable. An Si Dong bent down to unplug the two cables before someone surfaced out of nowhere and stole the two cables over. “Let me do it let me do it, I’ve done it before!” It was the vibrant guy who had been welcoming guests at the entrance, Nai He Qing Shen.

* = shi jie; female senior (usually referring to female schoolmates that are in grades above yours; may also be used to address graduated female students/alumni, depending on the occasion)

Shi jie flashed her a helpless smile, asking: “You’re Dong Gua MM right?”

“Enh, you are?”

“I’ve heard of you for a very long time,” shi jie smiled, “I’m Qing Shui Liu Shen from FREE.”

“Ah!” An Si Dong promptly wiped the dust on her hands. Feeling as though they weren’t clean enough, she wiped them again on her pants before stretching out her hand, “I’ve also heard about shi jie for a long time too! Nice, nice to meet you!”

Qing Shui Liu Shen was FREE’s former guildmaster. Even though she was a female and her gameplay wasn’t the best, she was well-respected among the FREE members. She’d joined FREE since the very beginning when there were only a dozen or so players when it first started, and had painstakingly established it to what it is today— a large and well-known guild in their server. FREE’s existing system was pretty much single-handed drafted by her. Her ability to remain level-headed, deal with things fairly and systematically and her cooperation with everyone was what contributed to their success today. A lot of players play games for the fun so they weren’t willing to mind trivialities. Qing Shui (Liu Shen) confessed her motor skills weren’t the best so she rarely participated in clearing dungeons. Most of her time was instead invested in managing the logistical aspect of the guild like arranging the foodstuff and medical resources, arranging the groupings. Even noting down the DKP* and other chores were done by her on her own. Nai He Qing Shen often said that half FREE’s credits for attaining so many first kills was Qing Shui’s.

* DKP = Dragon Kill Points; a kind of currency earned by participating in endgame raids, it can spent by acquiring loot from endgame bosses; DKP term is also frequently used to designate raid-level loot system in general.

In real life, Qing Shui had just started her second year PhD in engineering physics with her research direction mostly towards nuclear physics. In other words, she’s going to be a scientist in the future, the dream job of many children as illustrated in their essays booklets.

Nai He Qing Shen holed himself in the cupboard, rummaging around for half a day before popping out, his expression one of dismal. “This widget’s got too many cables and switches. Even their names are all weird. The last time I used it was really long ago so I can’t quite remember…”

An Si Dong: “Let me try.”

Even though he wasn’t all that competent himself, Nai He Qing Sheng still shot her a heavy stare. “Even I can’t fix it, you sure a little girl like you can fix it?”

Shi jie reprimanded him: “What wrong with being a little girl? How are you to judge that little girls can’t compare up to you?”

Nai He Qing Shen obediently endured through her reprimanding, not daring to rebuke.

An Si Dong squatted down and took a glance at the panel, then set the stereo up successfully based partially on her recollection and partially trying her luck. Shi jie pointed to her and said to Nai He Qing Shen: “Still gonna look down on little girls?”

She said, a little ill at ease: “I’ve used this before. The gadgets from the practicals we’d done before are manufactured by the same company as this, so the panels are pretty similar.”

Nai He Qing Shen propped his chest up. “No wonder, how can somehow figure this out on their first try?”

She parroted his words, giving him face: “Exactly, exactly, the gadgets from this company’s pretty hard to use. I need to refer to the instruction booklet every time I used it during practicals, I only managed to properly memorise after using it for a semester.”

Nai He Qing Shen secretly shot her a thankful gaze.

Shi jie said laughingly: “All you know is how to show off in front of PPMM* to impress them.”

* PPMM = pretty girls

Nai He Qing Shen delved into glumness, shooting her a glare. “I don’t show off in front of PPMM!” He said, biting down especially hard on the four letters “PPMM”.

He said he wasn’t showing off in front of PPMM, then what did he mean…?

The event was starting after the equipment was adjusted and tested. A board gathering was ultimately an event for a bunch of people with similar interests to gather and have fun together, to get to know each other and chat and play, and maybe find an excuse to go out and dine together.

An Si Dong had attended quite some board gathering previously, but it sure was her first time to a board gathering with conversations like “Aye, you’re that freaking XXX? So it’s you the one that killed me at the entrance of the instance?”, “Didn’t you freaking kill me too?”, “You killed me six times, I only killed you four times!”, “P, you’re a little scouting soldier, I’m the high-ranking officer, my four deaths’ worth more* than your six deaths!”… and so on going on. -_-b

* referring to the experience of their characters; a high-levelled player dying loses more experience than a low-levelled player

There was a space set aside for activities to be held on the stage. There were two amatuer emcees on the stage introducing to everyone today’s board gathering programme. One of the emcees was a guy, the other… was also a guy. -.-

There were several dozens of people who came. The females that were present, however, only amounted to a single digit. There were not many girls that played WOW to begin with, so when T uni’s guy-to-girl ratio was layered on top of that, females became as rare as DK horse drops.

The door to the room was closed. All around her were a sea of dark heads. She wondered if Wan Shui Qian Shan was here yet? There were so many guys she’d never seen before, exactly which one was him?

“Why aren’t you going back?” A male voice sounded behind her. She was currently in the midst of searching for someone so that voice had given her a scare. Turning around, she saw that Qu Wei En had already taken up an empty seat beside her.

That seat’s saved for someone else!

But she couldn’t really chase him away could she? So, she said glumly: “I’m afraid there’ll be a problem with the sound system again so I’ll sit here by the side.”

There were some amatuer actors on the stage acting out a plot adaptation of a comedy: Iron Forge Princess’s Romance with the crowds beneath the stage bursting into laughter at times. She was completely not in the mood to watch the performance, and so, she stood and walked out. Qu Wei En asked: “Where’re you going?”

“Toilet!” She glared at him fiercely. “You coming with?”

Qu tong xue’s face flushed and turned to pay attention to the performance.

The sign-in attendance sheet was still at the at the counter; the space beside Wan Shui Qian Shan’s name was still empty.

Did he forget? Or did he have something on so he couldn’t make it? She suddenly realised that other than through the game, she had no other way of contacting him. Hence once logged out of the game, they were essentially strangers. Even if they had met outside, they’d brush past each other, unable to recognise each other.

Why didn’t she ask for his phone number earlier?

When she walked one round and returned, the comedy was already over. The next activity was guessing the words. Two guys stood on the stage; one of them was gesturing while the other one was guessing. Owing to their lack of in-sync-ness however, they only got three out of eight correct, and so, their reward was only two lollipops.

The guy that had gestured said: “Aye, pig-headed teammates are the worst. You couldn’t even guess after all my describing; our wavelengths are too far apart.”

The guy who had been guessing just now kicked him playfully. “Who wants to be on the same wavelength as you, I’m definitely not gay!” As they joked, they grabbed their lollipops and went back.

The emcee said: “If that’s the case then let’s have a MM to come up to play with a GG. Yes, that beautiful girl that just entered! Please do come up the stage!”

An Si Dong looked at the surroundings. At seeing how everyone was looking at her, she pointed a finger at herself in suspicion. “Me?”

“Yes, you, please come up the stage!”

She obediently went up. The emcee said: “MM, introduce yourself first.”

Taking the microphone from him, she started earnestly: “Hello everyone, I’m from Huo Shu, my ID is Wintermelon, I’m Xia Tian de Dong Gua in the game. My class is a Priest, from the Alliance faction, please do take care of me…”

“Ah, so you’re the legendary Dong Gua MM, very pleased to meet you, very pleased to meet you!” The emcee’s tone was very ambiguous, and hence, the audience too buzzed.

“Which GG would like to pair up with Dong Gua MM? Please raise your hand!”

—No one raised their hands. -.-b

“Are they no hotties who’d brave it for this pretty MM? You? Do you want to give it a shot?” The emcee pointed at a guy seated in the first row.

Everyone in the first row were players from FREE, hence the bunch of them leant back, shouting in unison: “Ya-mie-die*! We don’t want to die—”

* 雅蠛蝶 = ya-mie-die; (parody) chinese version of ‘Yamete’ which is japanese for ‘no/stop’

Someone behind shouted: “QWE hurry go, what’re you waiting for?”

Despite the deadpan expression Qu Wei En had on when he was pushed onto the stage, the roots of his eyes were completely dyed red. An Si Dong felt like she wasn’t any better than him either.

This is so awkward, can the gossipy masses pay some consideration to the feelings of them? If she really was interested in Qu Wei En, would they still need to gossip about it till now?

Qu Wei En cleared his throat, taking the mic: “You gesture I’ll guess.”

This word guess game was a pair game. The two people would need to work together. One of them would have their back facing the screen. The other person would look at the words on the screen and gesture for the partner to guess. The gesturing person was not allowed to say any of the given words, including words that sounded similar. It was a very reality TV show-styled game.

It was a WOW board gathering, and so, the words they were guessing were obviously WOW-related words. After seeing the first word, An Si Dong immediately said without hesitation: “VanCleef wants to destroy the…”

Qu Wei En immediately answered: “Cathedral of Light.”

“Not this one…”

“Stormwind Keep.”

“Correct! Next!” The emcee didn’t forget to exaggerate. “Very in~sync~ as expected huh~”

In sync your sister! She heart palpitated a devil’s flurry.

The next question. “You AOE monsters using…”

“Arcane Blast.”


“Arcane Explosion.”

“Correct! Next one!”

Succinct and crisp, they didn’t use excessive amounts of words. They’ve already gotten several dozens down consecutively in the one minutes that had passed. As the number of words they got correct increased, the noise from the audience below became louder. Along with that, An Si Dong’s mind was inching more and more towards the verge of explosion.

A name of an item she’d never seen before appeared. The name was very long and they were all sound words. On the sidelines, Nai He Qing Shen said: “Who is it that came up with this question… don’t bother with this one, just skip it. You guys haven’t used your three chances to skip yet.”

Why do they have to skip it? It’s also just in time for them to get something wrong. An Si Dong said it word by word: “This is an item. It has a total of seven syllabus. The first words is a unit of measurement…”

Before she even finished, Qu Wei En said: “Ke* (克).”

* 克 = ke; grams

“The second words is gu-wen-li (古文里)—” She held her voice in in time to hold in the ‘de (的)*’, “—’ni (你)’.”

* the Chinese word 的 (de) works the same way how the Japanese word (no) works.

“Er (尔).”

Why didn’t he guess ‘ru (汝)’! Glumly, she gestured the number shi (十; number ten).

“Jia* (加).”

* the gesture for number ten, read as shi, (十) is a cross, but it also looks like the addition sign (+), which is read as jia (加) in Chinese

Why wasn’t he guessing ‘shi (十)’! Very glumly, she continued gesturing the ‘shi’ word. “This is still the fourth word.”

“Shi (十).”

Is it so hard for him to guess things the other way round! “The fifth word is—” She held it in once again, “—very commonly used word, geh…”

He noticed the disjoint in her sentence and said before waiting for her explanation: “De (的).”

“What’s on the left of Jiangsu (江苏)*…”

* 江 = Jiangsu; a coastal Chinese province north of Shanghai.

“Anhui (安徽)*.”

* 安徽 = Anhui; an eastern Chinese province

“The second word.”

“Hui.” Joining all the words, he immediately came to. “Ke-er-jia-se de hui-ji (Kel’gash’s Signet).”

They only took about thirty seconds. The audience below boiled in excitement. “They managed to guess that too?” “That item seems to be a Horde quest item right, they don’t have it in Alliance.” “No wonder… tsk tsk, so in-sync as expected!”

Exactly, how did you manage to guess that at all? How exactly is your brain grown? An Si Dong mentally gripped Qu Wei En’s brain and slammed it on the wall a hundred times and another hundred times…

And so, for the following guess, she purposely slipped up. “This one is a zhuang-bei (装备; gear)…”

“There’s a ‘zhuang (装)’! This one isn’t counted!”

In the end, they got a total of 23 correct and won three lollipops each. -_-|||

When they got off the stage, Qu Wei En gave her his lollipops: “Have it, I don’t like eating this.”

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo just happened to zip over at that time, and so, she stuffed all the six lollipops at him all in one go. At that, he delved into a dilemma of whether he should take it or not while he carefully peeked at Qu Wei En’s cold gaze with a pained expression.

The emcee found other pairs to go up to play the guessing game several rounds but the live PK section began. Several laptops were placed and players PK-ed on the spot, eliminating the losing ones.

The audience surrounded the arena. An Si Dong didn’t have the heart to view the duels, and so, she was seated outside the gathered people. She’d gone to the entrance to check several times, but Wan Shui Qian Shan still hadn’t arrived.

Was he… not going to come?

An Si Dong sat on the chair and stoned. Her gaze filtering through the gaps between the people, she was able to see Qu Wei En all focused, PKing someone. His fingers flew on the keyboard, eyes drilled on the screen. She’d never seen him so focused before; it had him exuding a sharpness discrepant from his board shorts and slippers.

——That’s probably the legendary blindingly-ultra-focused-intensity. o(╯□╰)o

His opponent was Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo. They two of them battled intensely for five minutes. In the end, Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo was no match for Qu Wei En and painfully lost with a 1:3.

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo hugged the person beside him, howling: “Lao zi I didn’t even enter the top eight! This isn’t fair, I shouldn’t be eliminated just like that, they should have people battle each other in small teams and eliminate people after the top eight is out!”

After being hugged in comfort: “Your luck’s already good enough. I died in the first round… oi oi don’t cling onto me, I like women actually…”

Someone else scorned: “Just look at your speed, it’s not even on the same level as him. How high is QWE’s APM*? Above 200 right?”

*APM = Action Per Minute refers to the total number of actions that a player can perform in a minute.

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo refused to give in: “My APM’s about 180 too, that’s not slow either yes?”

Qu Wei En slanted him a gaze: “So you’re just practising how to type just now*?”


“Phuu!” Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo spat a mouthful of blood (insert post-processing CG), crying a river of tears. “You can’t look down on people like that! I don’t wanna live anymore, let me die, let me die!”

The tong xue, who actually like women, at the side hugged him tightly in a very self-sacrificial manner: “Don’t take things too hard, didn’t you win one round?”

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo raised his head in grief and indignation, snapping himself together. “That’s right. Both victory and defeat are common to a soldier, it’s nothing much. Lao zi* I’m the Netherlands*—the uncrowned king.”

* 老子 = Lao zi; (slightly derogative, may also be used humorously) referring to oneself (for males, but females also uses it jokingy)

* 荷兰队 = Netherlands National Football Team (note that this novel was written three years ago so the context was with reference to three years ago)

“You said an extra word.” Qu tong xue very obviously didn’t know how the word ‘kind’ was written. “It should be: defeat is common to the soldier.”

And so, a certain tong xue who like females had to continue his self-sacrificing.

The board gathering was almost over. An Si Dong stoned at her seat for a while before walking over to the entrance for the fifth time to check the sign-in list, unresigned.

The hallway was very quiet. The door to the classroom was slightly open. The noise and bustle of the people sounded as though they were very far away. She flipped the messy useless paper, flyers and sign-in list on the tables sneakily, then noises that sounded like footsteps from came from behind…

“Can I ask—”

Startled, she grabbed the useless papers to cover the sign-in list before whipping around. The row of glaringly white light affixed to the ceilings of the hallways shone so brightly her vision swam.

In the blurry light, that person, as though walking out from a distant memory, neared.

“Are you Dong Gua?” He pushed his thin-rimmed spectacles on his nose bridge. “I’m Wan Shui Qian Shan.”

——“Are you An Si Dong?” Someone else, too, had pushed his spectacles up like that. Even his smile had been as bright and as gentle. “I’m Wan Qian.”

It was like a curse, inescapable, just like fate.

It was unbelievable for two people to appear so alike one another in the world. The way they talked, frowned, and the angle their lips tilted was exactly the same. Even their names, Wan Qian and Wan Shui Qian Shan, was so similar.

She had once told herself. Four years, just this four year. After she graduated from university, she would stop thinking about him. However, to meet such a person in the last year of her university was as though even the matchmaker sympathised with her fruitless unrequited love and was making up to her.

She immediately came to her senses and hurriedly nodded her head. “I am I am! I thought you weren’t gonna come…”

“Sorry, I was called to discuss my thesis with my tutor at the last minute. I’m only here cuz I took a leave, I need to go back very soon.”

“Oh…” She was a little disappointed. “You’re going after you’ve just arrived?”

His gaze lowered. “Originally, I hadn’t intended to come to the board gathering, I’m just here to see you… looks like my trip here isn’t for nothing now that I have seen you…”

At that, she felt a little bashful, and kicked the ceramic tile beneath her shoes. The emcee in the classroom yelled into the mic at that moment: “All the tong xue that’s just finished the battle, don’t leave yet, we’re taking a photo together later. The respective guildmasters may also want to talk to the guild members in private, so don’t leave the classroom yet.”

“Eh, since you’re here, why not… take the photo before you go?”

He couldn’t help but laugh. “Sure.”

It turned out that humans’ eyes were very subjective. Once you’re feeling happy, all the guys you see would handsome, and all the girls beautiful; everything would seem especially pleasant to the eye. Even the Qu Wei En and his scrubbing-brush-like porcupine hair she had wanted to slam against the wall just a while ago seemed beyond adorable right now, so much so it made her want to give it a pat.

It was already the final round of the PK battle. The emcee shouted in excitement: “Nai He Qing Shen wins QWE with a 2:0! Nai He Qing Shen good job! We support you!”

Nai He Qing Shen was the guildmaster of FREE. Nai He Qing Shen, being forum-famous, server-famous even, was often called da shen* by people. She wondered if QWE was able to defeat him. She turned to look at where they were battling. Qu Wei En too turned around at the same time, and so, their gazes met. She was feeling very happy at the moment, so she gave him an encouraging smile, raising her hand and fisting it to give a gesture of encouragement

* 大神= da shen; literally translated as ‘big god’; refers to gurus, very very very pro player

When the third round began, the battle situation reversed. Qu Wei En was as though he had his conception and governor vessels opened up* and was possessed by a devil, sweeping aside his decline from the previous two rounds and won three consecutive rounds with relative ground, clinching victory with a 3:2 in the end.

* 打通了任督二脉 = (lit.) opened up the conception and governor vessels, (fig.) energised.

Nai He Qing Shen grabbed his elbow and sobbed dramatically, shaking his arm: “Didn’t we agree I’ll give you the three lollipops and you’ll let me win? How could you get all pumped and forgot about your promise just cuz the MM gave you a backward gaze and smiled at you? You’re being babes-before-bros!”

Qu Wei En shrugged his hand off in disgust. “You’re one to say, weren’t you the one wanting to win to get babes?”

The prize for the winner was a soft toy dog with its eyes squinted in laziness. The large soft toy with its furry and soft body was very cute. However, it was still very weird witnessing the two guys, both taller than 1.8m mind you, with their hands under the table, one scratching away happily at its head, the other scratching away happily at its tail.

After the prize was presented, the emcee had everyone gather for a collective picture to capture the moment. The people in the first row were to squat, the people in the second row to sit, the ones in the third row to stand, the ones in the fourth row to stand on chairs, and the ones in the fifth row to stand on tables. Everyone was tightly crammed before everyone managed to fit into the picture frame.

An Si Dong, very predictably, was arranged to squat in the first row. Wan Shui Qian Shan was right behind her when she turned. At that, his head lowered and he sent her a slight smile. Qu Wei En, on the other hand, was definitely in the last row. As he was blocked, she couldn’t see him.

After they took the picture, the several guildmasters of the bigger guilds gathered their members for a small meeting. An Si Dong and Wan Shui Qian Shan followed the people walking out. As they did so, they bumped right into Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo coming in. “Dong Gua MM, you’re going already? Not waiting for QWE? We’re gonna go eat later, you coming with?”

Wan Shui Qian Shan walked a distance aside, politely giving her privacy, but that had her feeling very awkward. “Uh, no, I’ve got something on later, I’ll go first… You guys have fun.”

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo didn’t say anything else and went into the classroom.

She caught up with Wan Shui Qian Shan, wanting to explain herself on reflex but not knowing how and where to start.

It was him on the other hand that started, his voice gentle as per normal. “Guys are a little insensitive and might not know to sympathise with others sometimes. Don’t take it too hard, they’re just joking.”

So he already knew about the rumours. Rather than expressing his discontent, he instead helped the people who started the rumours. The innocent remains innocent. The fact that she was in a hurry to prove her innocence made it seemed as though she was very particular about it.

She exhaled, raised her head to exchange a look with him before the two of them walked out.

They had to turn a dozen of corners and make a huge round around the building before they reached the bike shed.

“Uhm… your school’s quite far, why don’t I send you on my bike? In case your tutor waits too long.”

“Sure, I’ll bring you. Which one’s your bike?”

Geh… it seemed like she had forgotten to think about something important.

She pointed at the bright pink and fluorescent green 22-inch mini-bike that boasted childishness, turning her head away, not looking at his laughing expression.

The campus area of T Uni was vast, hence it was difficult to get around without a bicycle. However, that also made the thefts of bicycles very prevalent. After she’d lost three bicycles in a single semester, her senior cautioned her: you can’t depend on bike locks to prevent bike thefts, you need to make it such that the thief wouldn’t want to steal your bike! And so, she proceeded to buy a 22-inch mini-bike that couldn’t be ridden by anyone that was not her size. When she rode the glaringly pink bike with the spray-on green bike on the road, it was bedazzling enough to blind people’s eyes. As expected, her bike had not been stolen for the two years after that.

“Actually, I’ll take the on-campus shuttle bus, there’s a bus stop just ahead at the road intersection.” He held in his laughter as he pointed at the road ahead.

“Alright then…” She didn’t push her bike with her. As she silently accompanied him walking on the road, she was squeezing her brain juice dry trying to come up with a topic of conversation

Before she could even come up with one though, they’ve already reached the road intersection. T_T

The normally slow-as-heck on-campus shuttle bus that took at least half a day to rumble by was suddenly extremely punctual and timely today. Just when the two of them stopped by the bus stop sign post, the electric bus leisurely rumbled in, turning into the road.

“Sorry, I really have something urgent on so I need to go.”

“It’s okay, important stuff comes first…” She lowered her head and kicked a rock on the road. “See you again in the game later…”

The on-campus bus drove nearer and nearer.

“Dong Gua, did you bring your phone?” He suddenly asked. “Lend me for a bit.”

“Oh.” She woodenly fished out her phone and handed it to him. He quickly dialled a string of numbers and stuffed her phone back into her hands.

His smile, beyond natural, was clear and light. “That’s my number. It’ll be more convenient for us to contact each other the next time we meet.”

At that, her face suddenly flushed. The bus driver shouted: “Are you getting on? If not, the door’s closing.”

He turned to board the bus. The driver quickly closed the door and the bus drove away. She could still see him waving at her from afar as the bus drove further and further, before it turned a corner and disappeared.

He said, the next time we meet…

She’s following the same tracks of an overthrown chariot, again and again, going back to square one and sinking herself into the fetters, unable to escape. Or perhaps… it was her herself that was unwilling to part from this vortex, unwillingly to break free.

If Mao Yin knew about this, she would definitely poke her head and scold her. Wailing mentally, she patted her flushing face before reverting back to school to retrieve her bike.

When she returned to the bike shed, she bumped into the people from FREE collecting their bikes after their little meeting. Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo laughed cheekily: “Dong Gua MM, didn’t you have something on and left first? Why’re you still here, who’re you waiting for?”

Who am I waiting for? I’m waiting for your sis!

Right after making that mental remark, she was stung by her conscience and started sobbing mentally. Girl shouldn’t be talking so roughly, shouldn’t be talking so roughly… she definitely had to distance herself from this bunch of guys and Mao Yin in the future.

Still hugging the soft toy dog, Qu Wei En walked over to her, saying, unruffled: “Who was the one that thought of buying such a prize, I’ll be laughed at if I bring this back to my dorms. Have it, it suits you better.” Following which, he dumped the doggie in her bike basket.

She took it out and handed it back to him: “No need, you won if after all your hard work…”

“I’ve given it to you already so just take it. I don’t need it and it takes up space.”

Well I don’t need it either and it takes up space as well! The important thing is, I don’t wanna take anything from you!

She threw the dog at him. He didn’t catch it, so the poor dog fell onto the ground.

He froze.

“Ah! Who’s so heartless, to throw this cute little doggie on the ground?” Nai He Qing Shen rushed over and picked up the dog, touching and patting it. “My little cupcake, my little darling. They don’t want you but I want you.”

Qu Wei En had a poor expression. Feeling that her own attitude wasn’t the best, she softened her tone: “I just don’t like furry toys very much…” At recalling what Qu Wei En had said Nai He Qing Shen wanted to win the prize for a girl. At thinking that he wanted to give it to a girl he liked, she said: “Since Nai He Qing Shen likes the dog so much, let him have it then, that way at least it’ll be put to some use…”

Nai he Qing Shen sighed sorrowfully at the dog: “You don’t understand. What I want isn’t actually this dog.”

Geh, if it’s not the dog… “You mean you want solitude*?”

* (TLer’s own unsure interpretation!) dogs are often linked to the word “身狗” = single dog, which means to be single/unattached/no boyfriend or girlfriend. Hence when Nai He Qing Shen said he didn’t (just) want the dog, An Si Dong thought he meant he wanted to be lonely/alone/single, because that’s what “身狗” (single dogs) kinda represent

Nai He Qing Shen stumbled, enraged: “It’s glory! This dog signifies the glory of a champion!”

“Oh.” She touched her nose. “The glory of the three lollipops…”

“I was joking about that! Joking! It was me underestimating the opponent after winning twice consecutively, that’s why I lost!” Nai He Qing Shen imploded. “It’s all your fault. If it weren’t for that flirty look you threw him, why would he suddenly become all pumped up and win the next three rounds! He wasn’t my opponent to begin with, fudge it!”

Nai He Qing Shen tong xue, I’m trying so hard to say a cold joke to lighten the atmosphere, so can you cooperate a little? Why must you always mention the unmentionable?

The gaze Qu Wei En gave Nai He Qing Shen was one that threatened to beat him up right there and then. She compared their figures and decided to help Nai He Qing Shen. At that, she zipped into the space between them: “Ah! This doggie’s actually pretty cute…”

Qu Wei En stuck both his hands into his pocket as he looked up at the sky. “I thought you girls all liked doll-like, cute and furry black bears and stuff. You look like someone who would like it.”

Who said petit and cute girls must play with dolls? She was an educated female of the modern era!

“—even Jing Shui shi jie likes it.”

Qing Shui shi jie very coincidentally walked over: “Are you talking about me behind my back? What do you like?”

Fine… no one said educated females of the modern era could not like furry toys. o(╯□╰)o

sAt noticing the strange atmosphere, Qing Shui shi jie asked: “What’s wrong?”

Nai He Qing Shen on the side pouted his lips, acting cute with the little doggie: “QWE wants to give this cute doggie to Dong Gua MM, but Dong Gua MM doesn’t want it, and she even threw the dog on the ground. Little doggie, Dong Gua MM’s so heartless and cruel isn’t she?”

“No no, my hands slipped just now, I didn’t mean to throw it on purpose… I just felt… “ She explained glumly, “that the dog’s too big. It’ll take up a lot of space if I put it by my bed. I’m used to having nothing else on my bed other than my pillows, so I won’t be able to fall asleep with it being there.”

Nai He Qing Shen sized Qu Wei En up and down meaningfully: “Then wouldn’t your future husband be too pitiful?”

What does my future husband have anything to do with you, and who the heck are you looking at ahhhhh!

Qu Wei En was still looking at the sky: “If you don’t want it then forget it. I don’t want it either.”

Qing Shui shi jie said: “My chinese zodiac* sign’s a dog so I’ve been collecting soft toy dogs since forever. I haven’t seen one like this before, can I have it?”

* there are 12 chinese zodiac signs that are used to date the year of births: the first is rat, then ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and the last is pig.

At such a time, Nai He Qing Shen was very generous, and handed the soft toy to Qing Shui shi jie without hesitation.

Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo pushed his bike, shouting from afar. “Stop dawdling, hurry let’s go. I reserved a 5:30pm table, it’ll be cancelled if we don’t reach in time.”

An Si Dong said first: “You guys are going out to eat right? Then go first, I won’t hold you guys up. My dormmate’s still waiting for me to go eat. I’ll see you guys online later, bye!” Before they could reply, she swiftly hopped onto her pink and green bike and escaped the scene.

After dinner, she didn’t log onto the game. Instead, she hung around on BBS. There were not a lot of people on the WOW page forums. A lot of them probably weren’t back after the board gathering yet.

There was someone who made a post with the title as “Finally understood why QWE selected a Gnome as his character”. Even though Qu Wei En’s name had her becoming physiologically anxious, she couldn’t resist her curiosity and stupidly clicked into the post.

Unfortunately, the original poster (OP) only gave a single sentence: “As the title says. Not gonna explain.” The replies of “Re”, “Sigh”, “Man show”, “…”, etc. to this post were also very mystifying.

Another user with an unfamiliar ID said: “Some people like using a persona of themselves when playing a game, while others have vastly different tastes. What’s there to be so curious about.”

The replies to that were lots of ellipses*.

* ellipses are the three dot punctuation “…”

She felt that the person had made a lot of sense. Weren’t Liu Ru Mei and Ni Kan Bu Jian Wo like that?

The thread was very quickly submerged. After 8pm, the number of people online started increasing and the moderators started posting pictures from the board gathering and summed up what happened.

Immediately after they finished posting, a new post emerged tightly after: “Dong Gua MM is so cute, I want to confess! I lub yuu…”

Though it appeared to be just a joking post at first glance, it attracted a lot of views with such a gossipy title and an affixed image. The replies to this thread afterwards shot straight up after that. There were some who also confessed, some who demanded a more HD picture, some who took the opportunity to bump up the page and of course, quite a few who were gossiping about her and Qu Wei En.

The replies made up quite a few pages. There were some inflammatory voices however: “You consider this kinda stuff a beauty? You can grab a lot of these even on the streets. Beggars sure can’t be choosers for you T Uni guys. After all, when you live among a throng of dinosaurs, even a female pig will look like it’s got double eyelid.”

The person not only flamed all the T Uni girls, it flamed an even larger amount of guys. At that, it immediately received a lot of blacklash.

Honestly, the picture was blurry and wasn’t taken very well. She was wearing very normal clothes so it was indeed a very normal picture. Except that everyone had just met this morning, so even if people who knew each other praised around saying someone was a beauty and someone was hot, it might not be the case in reality.

She flipped to the next page. There was someone who posted another picture, and that had the saliva-battle immediately evolving into a… drooling-battle.

That was a very clear photograph. The skillfully angled lighting had An Si Dong’s smile appearing very sweet and her glinting eyes glassy. She had one of her hands fisted and raised before her, the side of her lips slightly tilted. A word to describe her expression would be… too frigging moe!

She couldn’t help but pick up the mirror beside her computer and turned to look at herself. Why did they seem like two separate people?

She didn’t agree with Nai He Qing Shen saying that she was throwing flirty looks when she hadn’t seen it herself, but now that she had…  gosh look that gaze, Nai He Qing Shen wasn’t wrong. -_-!

There was a reply below: “Cute but charming, pure but sexy, oohhhh… Dong Gua MM, you’ve captured my heart the moment I saw this picture!”

“You’ve captured my heart the moment I saw Dong Gua MM at the board gathering! First come first serve, go away!”

“Am a someone who’s got his heart captured by her since first year, all of you go away!”

“Woah, pretty girl, this MM’s quite PP huh…” Mao Yin saw that she was looking at a picture so she popped her head over. After staring at the picture for a while, she felt something was off. “Why does she look so familiar?”

“Because the person in the picture is your dorm mate for three years, the insignificant and humble me.” -_-b

Mao Yin sized her up and down before looking at the picture again: “This photographer is so amazing for being able to shoot a decay into legend without makeup or PS*.”

* PS = photoshop

Stinky Mao Mao, you’re the decay!

Punching Mao Yin away, she carefully kept the picture. Honestly, she had never been photographed so prettily. o(╯□╰)o


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


I finally edited it yeah o(`^´*) Damnit, I’m procrastinating so much when it comes to editing gahaha I swear I’ve got this chapter done a little over a week ago… but… procrastination happened… and when it happens, it happens ( ′~‵) I’m too weak-willed shit (T▽T) Side note, happy birthday to moi (ฅΦωΦ)ฅ



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