Ye Xiu, a first generation pro player. Zhang Jiale, a second generation pro player.
There was only a year between them, so there was no need for any courtesies for seniority. Though Ye Xiu would sometimes act the wise, knowing elder, Zhang Jiale clearly had no care for it.
The two’s first real top level face off was in the third season of the Glory Pro League.
That season, Team Hundred Blossoms’ Sun Zheping and Zhang Jiale, their Blood and Blossoms had fully matured, sweeping across the Alliance and taking first place in the regular season. However, in the end, in the finals, they were met with Excellent Era. The story of how One Autumn Leaf cut through their combo with his Evil Annihilation had become a legend in this scene.
In the end, Blood and Blossoms fell into the background.
Zhang Jiale wouldn’t accept that, of course, so they returned anew in the fourth season.
But this season, they didn’t even make it into the finals. The season came to a close with the legendary battle where Tyranny ended Excellent Era’s dynasty. Blood and Blossoms once more became no more than a passerby.
In the fifth season, Hundred Blossoms came back in high spirits, ready for the new season after three seasons of experience. That was when their captain, Sun Zheping, was forced to retire midseason, in his golden years, due to a hand injury. Zhang Jiale took over as captain and Team Hundred Blossoms charged forward amidst their tears, empowered by their sorrow, straight into the finals.
However, the result was that they lost against the one who joined the scene in the third season, known throughout the Glory scene as the Magician. They lost to the one who, as rumor would have it, was the closest to the God of Glory, the closest to erecting a dynasty like Ye Xiu did. They lost to Wang Jiexi.
Wang Jiexi became Hundred Blossom’s worst nightmare. In the seventh season, when they were mere inches away from reaching the championships again, it was Wang Jiexi who shattered their dreams once again.
Seven years and three runners-up, it was almost as if Hundred Blossoms was plagued by some sort of curse. When they fell to Wang Jiexi this time, Blood and Blossoms had been left in the past, and this had become an accomplishment of Zhang Jiale’s efforts alone.
Perhaps it was because he thought that it was already the best he could do alone, one summer later, Zhang Jiale suddenly announced his retirement.
Today, the story of Blood and Blossoms had truly ended. Though Sun Zheping had already retired in the fifth season, Zhang Jiale had always fought for the both of them.
No one could understand what sorrow he felt, what disappointment he lived in.
The people would only sigh: if Sun Zheping didn’t retire from his injuries, if Sun Zheping had been there all along, then would Blood and Blossoms have erected a Hundred Blossoms dynasty after Excellent Era fell?
There were no ifs.
These ifs were nothing but knives to the heart for those involved.
Zhang Jiale had never given up, otherwise, he wouldn’t have carried the responsibility and dream that two were meant to bear and gritted his teeth, charging onwards alone.
Unfortunately, he still fell in the end and gave up.
Blood and Blossoms was a story of two. One person wouldn’t be able to write that perfect ending.
However, for him personally, there was still a dream in his heart, an everlasting dream.
After a season, he returned, abandoning his old home Hundred Blossoms and joining Tyranny, a pandering move he was despised for. Zhang Jiale had doubted his choices, but ultimately, he didn’t regret it. He affirmed his goals. Now, he stood here, still in control of Dazzling Hundred Blossoms, but it was Tyranny he was fighting for. As for his opponent? Ye Xiu wasn’t unfamiliar, but his character was the unspecialized Lord Grim, representing the new team Happy.
Familiar scene, familiar characters, but different people?
No, the people were the same people, but everything else was messed up.
However, no matter what happened, his dream of the championship would never change.
A sudden gunshot startled everyone. Zhang Jiale’s Dazzling Hundred Blossoms had just loaded into the map and suddenly shot a bullet into the air.
Click, click, click, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms switched rapidly through his cartridges before heading off. This was a habit of Zhang Jiale’s.
It was still the same map, and both chose to go the middle path, so they arrived in the manor in the middle of the map one after the other.
Lord Grim went in directly through the front door. And Dazzling Hundred Blossoms? Straight through the back door.
Although Spitfires were a Gunner class, they had many different kinds of attacks and were called the Mages of Gunners. Their battle styles didn’t need a lot of space like Sharpshooters and Launchers. An enclosed speed was equally as convenient. In fact, there were some enclosed terrains that Spitfires excelled in!
The manor had two floors. Ye Xiu and Qin Muyun’s battle happened entirely on the second floor. The map wouldn’t refresh, so the second floor was still in complete disarray from the previous battle. Negative Nine Degrees’s bullets had turned the rooms that the two characters had fought intensely into a complete mess.
However, Lord Grim and Dazzling Hundred Blossoms were still on the first floor. Both characters were wary, each step taken with infinite caution.
Ye Xiu was familiar with the map. Lord Grim first watched the window for a while like he did against Qin Muyun. After not seeing any signs of Dazzling Hundred Blossoms, he was clearly acting on the thought that “he probably came in through the back door.”
As for Zhang Jiale? He had clearly lost the initiative since he didn’t know the map. After entering through the backdoor, he cautiously surveyed his surroundings, the room layout, the doorway. After entering the room, he glanced around several times and randomly went for the doorway that led to the hallway, opening it with a creak.
The audience held their breath.
In the corridor outside the doorway, Lord Grim was carefully walking over. The sudden opening of the door would expose Zhang Jiale’s position.
“Careless! He knows its a corridor…” Pan Lin was saying, but then suddenly shut up.
Knowing that the corridor was here, he should be on guard for the possibility of his opponent to just so happen to be passing by. He was about to say that, but then, he shut up because he saw that after Dazzling Hundred Blossoms opened the door, he didn’t walk out.
The door opened, then closed again, creaking all the while.
Lord Grim, in the corridor outside, already had his Myriad Manifestations Umbrella raised. Lord Grim pointed towards the doorway as he silently edged rightwards to give himself a better view of the room.
The door continued to close, with only a sliver of an opening left.
Was he not coming out?
Just as everyone thought this, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms darted out suddenly.
The door was slammed open again. Dazzling Hundred Blossoms had the door behind him as cover, his right hand holding his automatic handgun Hunter Seeker out in front of him.
Zhang Jiale saw Lord Grim immediately.
Ye Xiu also saw the charging Dazzling Hundred Blossoms immediately.
Both guns spat embers simultaneously. However, for normal shots, the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella was a rifle. Each reload allowed for two shots. Meanwhile, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms was using an automatic handgun. On top of that, he had the Spitfire class skill Ammunition Expansion, which affected normal attacks as well. The number of shots they could fire in that moment were on two completely different levels.
So Lord Grim immediately attacked with a skill.
Three missiles shot out in rapid succession.
Boom boom boom!
In the narrow corridor, the two characters aimed their guns at one another. The shots they fired collided, exploding. A thick smoke billowed out and enveloped the corridor, and the force of the explosion sent both characters backwards.
Ye Xiu didn’t retreat. With a push of his mouse, Lord Grim used Slide Kick, charging straight at the billowing smoke.
“That’s too daring!” Pan Lin cried out in surprise.
It was an unknown situation, but it wouldn’t be hard to guard against Ye Xiu going on the offensive. So long as Zhang Jiale was on guard, he could just throw a few grenades into the smoke. How would Lord Grim dodge that?
However, when he saw the exact direction Lord Grim had aimed his Slide Kick in, he realized something was wrong.
Was he planning to Slide Kick the wall?
In that moment of confusion, Lord Grim had already slid to the wall.
Boom boom boom!
As expected, flashes of explosions bloomed amidst the smoke. Zhang Jiale had been prepared for the possibility of an attack. However, in this moment Lord Grim slid to the wall and then suddenly jumped up. He unsheathed his ninjato from the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella, swinging in and stabbing it into the wall. With a leap, he pulled the blade blade and swung again…
He was running along the wall!
Pan Lin stared in shock. The whole audience stared in shock.
The corridor was narrow, so the force of the explosions enveloped the entire area. But with the wall to brace himself on, Lord Grim wouldn’t be thrown back. The force would just press him closer against the wall….
Taking some insignificant damage, Lord Grim had managed to charge out of the smoke with two jumps, falling forward.
This was originally where Dazzling Hundred Blossoms was, but when Lord Grim appeared, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms immediately darted out of the way. He had kept some distance between him and the thick smoke; Zhang Jiale wouldn’t be so stupid as to stand right in front of it. Thus, he could still dodge out of the way even when Lord Grim used such an unexpected method of attack.
With a step, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms stepped back into the room.
Creeeeeaaak, the door continued to close. With the way he was falling, Lord Grim was going to hit the door. If that happened, that would be rather embarrassing.
Lord Grim hurriedly swung his ninjato again.
Bang bang bang bang…
After switching positions, Dazzling Hundred Blossoms immediately began to attack, but Lord Grim dodged the bullets by swinging his ninjato towards the wall behind, ending up stepping on the top of the door accurately.
With a kick, Lord Grim jumped to the other side of the door and the door closed rapidly. Dazzling Hundred Blossoms had to retreat swiftly, almost getting hit in the face by the door.
Slamming shut, the door separated the two characters, one inside the room, the other outside.
Since the first level of the castle had to take a lot of weight, the walls were very thick. They weren’t something characters could destroy without some effort. Right now, with the two separated like this, they didn’t have to worry about a sneak attack coming through the wall.
Lord Grim didn’t make any moves for now. This was because Ye Xiu knew the map well. The room had a lot of ways out. If he circled around, he probably wouldn’t be able to catch the other, unless Zhang Jiale stayed in the room and didn’t move.
Right now, the quickest way to continue his assault was to charge inside through this door.
However, the door opened outwards, not inwards, which meant that Ye Xiu couldn’t barge inside like Zhang Jiale had barged outside, using the door to cover his back while he faced the other way. If the door had opened inwards, Ye Xiu would be able to charge in, being able to react no slower than the person waiting on the other side.
However, if Ye Xiu charged inside and Zhang Jiale was ready to ambush him, that would not be good.
What should he do?
The two characters pressed themselves against the wall, silent and unmoving.