Su Mucheng's role in Excellent Era is set in stone the moment that Tao Xuan sets his eyes on her that day she and Ye Xiu are standing in front of the elevators.
At that time, she doesn't understand why Tao Xuan rushes up to them with such haste that he leaves Wu Xuefeng behind. She merely assumes that that he is trying to catch the elevators for whatever reason. Only when Ye Xiu refuses to turn around when she tugs on his arm, a glimpse of stormy frustration in his stance before it fades away into benign neutrality, does she realize that something is amiss.
"I didn't know Little Mucheng was here!"
"Do you understand Glory now?"
"What class do you play?"
Tao Xuan constantly flickers his eyes at her, gaze seeming to see her less and less of a person and more of a commodity or hidden gem.
A skilled and beautiful female player in the Glory Alliance still in her prime.
Not to mention an equally beautiful female launcher as her avatar.
What kind of gazes would she attract?
How many eyes would be on her?
How many sponsors would willing to sign on with Excellent Era then?
All this, his eyes seem to say.
(It isn't the first, and wouldn't be the last time, that anyone looks at her with such hopeful, greedy eyes.)
Ye Xiu's politely distant attitude towards Tao Xuan is the most telling. He says the bare minimum, smiles at appropriate moments like a reflex, and mostly focuses his attention towards Wu Xuefeng though his eyes light up with genuine pride at Su Mucheng's progress and current skill level.
The tension between Ye Xiu and Tao Xuan isn't easy to spot at first glance, but Su Mucheng remembers how close they once were. She had been present the first time Tao Xuan had mentioned sponsorships. Any patience and understanding he had since then have quickly dissipated over the years as beggar contracts continously get thrown at him like pity thoughts.
The look in his eyes right now isn't the look of a beggar.
That night, Ye Xiu pulls up chairs at the hotel room's table and sits her down for a long discussion after she voices her observations.
"Being a public figure isn't such a good and glamorous thing," Ye Xiu explains in a rare moment of sternness motivated by concern and unease. "Especially for a girl - don't give me that look - I'm not being sexist. That's just how society is."
Su Mucheng pouts and crosses her arms, but dutifully returns to listening when Ye Xiu narrows his eyes, giving her that look. She immediately straightens up.
"People will always expect things out of you when you're in public," Ye Xiu continues. "They will watch you and they will always have things to say. Both good and bad."
He pauses, crossing his arms with a frown, and taps on the chair's arm rest as he considers his next words. "... I know that you understand the situation, but I won't have you make it your responsibility to bear the burden of Excellent Era's image, even if that makes me selfish, uncooperative, and uncaring."
"Hey, don't be mean to yourself!" Su Mucheng immediately rebukes.
"Why not? It's true." Ye Xiu smirks, somehow finding humor in those words, before it fades as he says, "Brother Tao…He is not wrong. Don't take him to be a bad person when he is only trying to keep Excellent Era's best interests in mind. In truth, I could be seen as the person in the wrong for refusing to work with him. There's no point in pushing blame when it's true that the Alliance relies on support from fans and sponsors. But even though it's hopelessly ideal, I decided from the beginning that my focus would only be on Glory and our team."
"Then why don't you? Can't he just handle the business while you handle the in-game matters? Why do you have to do both?" Su Mucheng frowns, placing her hands on the table. "We already have support from fans and sponsors. Why do we need even more?"
"Business is never so simple," Ye Xiu says with a sardonic curve to his lips. "I won't tell you because it's better if you understand yourself. You will soon realize what I mean when you see the current state of the Alliance. Still, I didn't teach you to play Glory so that you would be Excellent Era's saving grace and money tree. I didn't expect it would turn out like this though I should have seen it coming ..."
"I never thought that at all!" Su Mucheng declares fiercely, daring him to continue his self-deprecation. "Stop beating yourself up! There are already other people who want to beat you up. Don't make it easier for them!"
"What's with that?" Ye Xiu lets out a startled laugh. "If someone wants to beat me up, I'd definitely make it as hard for them as possible. The only person they'd end up beating up is themselves."
"That's right!" Su Mucheng nods emphatically. "That's how it should be!"
"Hah...Still - don't stand up, I'm not trying to beat myself up again or whatever you think I'm doing - I just wanted to say, even though I'd like to step in here, it's not my place. It's up to you to make your own decision about this."
Su Mucheng lowers herself from her half-standing position, thinking deeply. Then, her expression clears and she simply replies, "I'll do it."
"Are you certain...?"
The silence hangs heavily around them, unspoken words hanging thinly between the two like a spider's thread, but Su Mucheng is certain. Her priorities have rarely been a matter of want or desire but a matter of need.
Originally, when it had just been her and Su Muqiu, her priority had been to live happily and freely to keep their spirits up and assuage her brother's guilt. When Ye Xiu joined their tiny family, her priority had been to cheer the two on and try to keep them from overworking themselves to keep their family afloat. Now that it is only her and Ye Xiu, her priority is to work hard to make life easier for both her and Ye Xiu, so that they can live without needless pain or struggle.
Ye Xiu has always been someone who felt responsible for things outside of his control.
And for that, she doesn't feel like she's sacrificing anything or forcing herself. If Ye Xiu considers himself selfish, then Su Mucheng would consider herself even more selfish. Unlike Ye Xiu, whose selfishness can sometimes encompass anything and everything that comes into his circle of care and concern, hers only include those she trusts enough with her heart.
When Ye Xiu continues to stare at her, as if he is considering between 'sorry' or 'thank you', Su Mucheng immediately says, "You don't understand the benefits of being a celebrity. Do you know how much free stuff I will get? How much free food I can eat? How many cool and exclusive places I can see free of charge? I might even be able to meet other celebrities. Don't break my dreams."
Satisfied with Ye Xiu's dumbstruck and confused silence, she considers this conversation her success.
“Don’t think that I don’t know what you’re doing."
"But if that is your choice, then I'm not going to stop you," Ye Xiu reiterates with a sigh as he stands up, signalling the end of the conversation. Su Mucheng begins to stand up as well when she suddenly sees Ye Xiu freeze in place in the middle of the hotel room. Turning around, he points at her with such fierceness that she freezes as well. "I’m still going to look over all the sponsorship contracts. Any trashy ones will be going straight into the trash.”
There can't be that many trashy ones, Su Mucheng thinks, wary that if she says anything out loud, Ye Xiu will have second thoughts.
(Oh, will she find out how wrong she is.)
In the following months, Su Mucheng spends more time with everyone in Excellent Era and not just the trainees. Whenever she isn't in the training camp, she is chatting with her future teammates and all the employees. People naturally open up to her. She finds out that there is a lot that they are willing to say if she sincerely asks the right kind of questions. She watches and learns and quickly understands what Ye Xiu means by business not being a simple matter.
What few people realize is that beneath Su Mucheng's pretty face and figure, her cheerful smiles and bubbly personality, there lay a scheming and intelligent mind honed from years spent living in not-so-nice circumstances. It's not a side of her she shows to others because it's easier to let people think she's just a pretty flower in a decorative vase, who happens to also be skilled in gaming.
It's an image that sells and benefits her because there's no easier way to move around than being able to do as she pleases while everyone just assumes she's being curious and whimsical.
After months of piecing together random conversations and learning about all the intricacies of what goes on behind the scenes of Excellent Era, Su Mucheng can see why there is such a disconnect between Ye Xiu and Tao Xuan.
Ye Xiu simply wants to place his attention on the team, solely focusing on matches and the championships without getting caught up in all the business activities. His love for Glory is clear and no one can deny his dedication as a professional gamer.
Tao Xuan simply wants to place his attention on running Excellent Era and managing the Club as a whole, solely focusing on business ventures to push the Club to greater heights. His love for Excellent Era is clear and no one can deny his dedication as a businessman.
Neither of them are completely wrong, nor completely right, but with such mindsets there is no way that they can come to a compromise and it is no surprise that they inevitably clash. It is most likely their past friendship that have kept their stalemate running for so long.
However, between the two, there is no question as to whose side she will be on. And as an orphan who grew up on the streets, she can't say she understands Tao Xuan's fixation of the far off future, of maximizing gains to raise Excellent Era's stocks and amass a fortune.
All to show the world the true power and might of Excellent Era through both domination on the stage and domination in the industry.
A few weeks before Season 3 reaches its end, Su Mucheng has a conversation with Wu Xuefeng that changes her entire perspective on what it means to play support.
"Brother Feng, for someone who's set on retiring, I somehow get the feeling that you're the one most uneasy about it," Su Mucheng comments, plopping down beside Wu Xuefeng on the couch in Excellent Era's lounge.
"Wha - who?" Wu Xuefeng nearly drops the cup of tea in his hands as he hastily places it down on the table to calm his racing heart. "Little Mucheng? What are you doing up?"
"Sorry." Su Mucheng tosses him an apologetic smile. "I've been seeing you here lately since that reporter asked what Excellent Era plans on doing to prepare for the future since we're losing you and all. I thought you could use some company for once."
"You don't have to concern yourself with this." Wu Xuefeng picks his cup of tea back up, swirling the cooling drink. "It's nothing much..."
Undeterred, Su Mucheng leans back against the couch and settles herself comfortably against the cushions. Not even five minutes pass before Wu Xuefeng begins to speak once more.
"It's just, I can't help but worry when I think about what an uncertain state Excellent Era will be in once I leave. It's a bit stupid ... I'm not nearly that important ... "
Su Mucheng nudges Wu Xuefeng gently with her elbow. "Nonsense! You're Excellent Era's vice-captain, Ye Qiu's partner, and one of the core members of the team! What's not important about that? Don't listen to what everyone else says."
She can understand where Wu Xuefeng is coming from though. Since Excellent Era's debut, Wu Xuefeng's worth to the team has constantly been overshadowed by Ye Qiu. Unable to rely on hand speed, his style has always predominantly relied on his intelligence, experience, precise techniques, and accurate judgments, something that often went unseen by the casual player. Compared to the domineering and terrifyingly aggressive play style of Ye Qiu, his Qi Breaker often ended up looking like an NPC in comparison.
Even Excellent Era's own boss could not help but sigh at this kind of image. Someone labeled by the most outspoken fans as lucky and somewhat skilled to be where he is, what use is he to the team when eSports news rarely wrote an article about him or sought him out for interviews, much less sponsors and investors who mainly come to him to ask about Ye Qiu?
"Thank you, but don't worry about it." With a rueful smile, Wu Xuefeng waves away her concern. "I've gotten used to it. Even though I say that, I know my role in the team. I think...what I meant to say is that I shouldn't be that important to this team's stability."
"Hm? What do you mean...?" Su Mucheng tilts her head in thought.
"Ah - it's nothing. I tend to ramble at this time, don't mind me."
"You don't ramble without reason, so it can't be nothing," she points out before a realization hits her. "Are you talking about how you've been keeping the peace between Ye Qiu and Brother Tao?"
"What? No, of course not. What makes you think that? I haven't been doing anything at all. What kind of peace-keeping would I do between two friends who have a perfectly friendly friendship ... " In fascination, Su Mucheng listens to Wu Xuefeng go through half a minute of pure denial before he realizes that he's not fooling anyone. He lowers his head with a sigh. "Nothing gets by you does it?"
"Not at all. You're really bad at lying when you're put on the spot though. You should note that for future reference." Ignoring Wu Xuefeng's embarrassed cough, Su Mucheng asks, "I don't get it though. Why do you make it your responsibility to take care of everything?"
"What do you mean?"
"Brother Feng, don't you go beyond what's expected of you as vice-captain? After a match, you attend the press conferences. On a regular day, you attend practice with the rest of the team. When you're free, you review matches and help Ye Qiu with team-related matters. When you aren't practicing, you're keeping track of everyone's performance and recording data, so that Ye Qiu can adjust everyone's training schedules and team practice. On other days, you meet with sponsors, reporters, or fans. These duties are what I would say are expected of a vice-captain."
"That sounds about right?" Wu Xuefeng considers with a nod.
Su Mucheng raises a finger to emphasize her point. "But then you do even more beyond that. You make sure everyone eats and sleeps well, take the time to talk to everyone and ask about their day, mediate in conflicts, and have everyone participate in weekly bonding activities. You even take the time to come to the training camp to see everyone's progress and attend management meetings once in a while to understand the Club's current progress and issues."
"Is what I do really that strange?" Wu Xuefeng questions, genuinely confused.
"I think so?"
"I am Excellent Era's vice-captain. If I can't even do this much, then what use would I be to the team, much less Ye Qiu?"
"Huh?" Su Mucheng straightens up in surprise, not expecting such an assured response from Wu Xuefeng. "What use you would be ...?"
"Let me ask you this, what role do you want to play in Excellent Era once you debut?"
Without much thought, Su Mucheng replies, "The face and the money tree."
"I - what?" Wu Xuefeng splutters, looking extremely affronted and ready to throw hands. "Who told you this?"
"Am I wrong?" Su Mucheng shoots back. "Well, I also want to be Ye Qiu's partner on-stage, but that's more of what I want to do."
"Then, that's the only reasonable answer you've given me."
"What?" Now Su Mucheng is the one who looks affronted.
"Technically, what you say isn't wrong," Wu Xuefeng grudgingly acquiesces. "If you want to look at it from Excellent Era's perspective. That is the role that they might want you to play, but what I asked you what was role you wanted to play."
The role I want to play ...?
"There might be certain duties expected out of me as vice-captain, things listed in my contract and what Manager Cui tells me to do, but I wouldn't be a very good vice-captain if I just did the bare minimum or only did what Excellent Era expects of me. If I did, I guarantee that all I would be good for is being a very good puppet. What I choose to do is only reflective of the kind of captain I work with."
The kind of captain ... Ye Xiu?
Seeing Su Mucheng's perplexed look, Wu Xuefeng gently elaborates. "It isn't my place to say, but I think that you know better than anyone how much work Ye Qiu will take upon himself without a word, even if he delegates. When you spend time with someone like that, it's hard to even consider doing things by halves. So, when you ask me how can I make it my responsibility to take care of everything, even involving myself in keeping the peace between Boss Tao and Ye Qiu, it's because that is the support role I want to play not only as Excellent Era's vice-captain, but Ye Qiu's partner and friend. That is my pride as Wu Xuefeng, the guy who plays in Ye Qiu's shadow."
"The support role you want to play ...?" Su Mucheng repeats, struck by these words.
"That's right," Wu Xuefeng replies, then checks the time on his phone. "I won't say much more since we should both be asleep, but you should take the time to think about what kind of role you want to play and not what you think Excellent Era, or maybe even Ye Qiu, expects of you. Not only that, but you'll be playing with Dancing Rain. Such an account...it'd be a shame to see it follow the will of anyone but its user."
As Wu Xuefeng gathers his cold cup of tea and cleans up his area, Su Mucheng takes the time to digest his words.
Originally, Su Mucheng had just been content with the idea of playing support as Dancing Rain. She worked hard all these years just to claim her place in Excellent Era, but after talking to Wu Xuefeng, she realizes that she wouldn't be satisfied with just that. Everyone knew the legacy of Dancing Rain and who the account originally was supposed to belong to...but few knew the reason why Su Muqiu chose to play a launcher class.
Launchers are one of the slowest classes. Their hand cannon takes up most of their weight and has a long reloading time, but it is also the class with the longest-range and highest burst damage - the best for making the first move and surprising opponents from afar. Their greatest weakness is close-range combat, but what if that can be overcome? Su Muqiu had been planning to see how far he could push the launcher class in terms of mechanics and silver equipment.
Even though he chose a class best for standing behind the tanks and damage dealers of a party, he had never planned on playing behind the lines. He had never been satisfied with being anyone's background assist off-stage either. Side-by-side and front-line had always been his favorite places to be. Standing just a step behind and providing aid when needed is one thing, but the thought of fighting side-by-side and taking out enemies from the shadows before they can attack...
Between the two, Su Mucheng likes sound of one a lot more.
"Brother Feng," Su Mucheng says just before she and Wu Xuefeng part ways. "Leave the future to us younger generations. So, just focus on bringing in our 3rd championship and retire at ease."
Wu Xuefeng parts his mouth in surprise before he begins to laugh quietly. "For a moment, I thought I was talking to Ye Qiu, but somehow, hearing that from you is even more reassuring. Alright, Little Mucheng, I'll hold you to it."
In the silence of the night, an oath is exchanged between the two with a casual fist bump.
Unlike Wu Xuefeng, who has the authority and power of a vice-captain with years of experience in the Glory Professional Alliance, there isn't much that Su Mucheng can conceivably do to assist Ye Xiu. She has little concerns with how her performance will be in matches, having already participated in mock-matches with the team, but when it comes to Excellent Era's management and the Glory Professional Alliance as a whole, she is still too young and her experience too lacking for anyone to take her seriously.
But there are few in the Glory Professional Alliance who can rival Su Mucheng's natural people skills and inexhaustible knowledge of pop culture and trends, especially those relating to the Glory Professional Alliance. So, she decides to move from the shadows of the internet and do what even Wu Xuefeng was unable to do even after all this time: improve Ye Xiu's relations with his fans and the overall public.
"Hi, Sister Lin! How’s work going?”
Yue Lin, the head of the PR department, looks up from her work to see Su Mucheng enter the office. A steaming hot cup of coffee is in her hand as she approaches, and Yue Lin's eyes brighten in pleasant surprise.
“Mucheng! It's been a while, I've missed you and all the coffee you used to prepare for our office!" Yue Lin declares appreciatively, reaching out her hand to accept the drink. Curling her hands possessively around the cup, she takes a sip and savors the taste before she replies with a great sigh. “Work is a bit hectic these days. Xuefeng is going to retire at the end of this season, so we need to prepare a statement. A few others have also let me know that they will be retiring next year, which I'm thankful for, but..."
"That's a lot of new people," Su Mucheng finishes, a bit sadly. She hadn't known that she will only have one year to play alongside a few of the members she had gotten to know. They will just have to make this year count then.
Yue Lin nods. "By that time, half the team will be replaced. The only ones I will be familiar with are you, Ye Qiu, Xia Ming, and Tianran. You, I’m not too worried about, but Ye Qiu … Well, I constantly get emails and phone calls about interviews, sponsorships, advertisements, merchandise, VIP rights, media rights, video streams, and special events. Companies all want to work with him in some way, but Ye Qiu has only accepted one interview so far and that was through QQ. And how that interview went ... That is a spectacle I'd rather not repeat because I still have nightmares about it. Lately, I've even heard that Ye Qiu has become an urban legend among the eSports reporters - something about how everyone who tries to interview him always ends up hospitalized due to blood loss or injuries sustained from chasing him down."
"That's ... unfortunate to hear." Su Mucheng gives Yue Lin a sympathetic smile when all she wants to do is cry once she realizes how hard it will actually be for her to change Ye Xiu's image. If there are already urban legends of him floating about, she isn't sure she wants to know what other rumors and theories are being spread about him.
“I should just find a new job.” Yue Lin sighs, leaning back in her chair to gaze out the window, expression worn and melancholic. “Wang Sheng has all these great ideas to advance Excellent Era’s image by improving our relationships with the fans and sponsors. He keeps talking to me about creating more events on two levels - one for regular fans and the second for VIP fans - and allowing them to have easier access in meeting the pro players. Simply speaking, his model imitates the entertainment industry and I can see where he's coming from, but ... as a huge fan of Glory myself, I can't say if it's the best thing for Excellent Era."
"Hm..." Su Mucheng thinks hard about what she has just heard. She has no idea who this Wang Sheng is, but just from what she's hearing, she can already tell that it'd be bad if he is allowed free reign without anyone to counter him. His ideals are practically parallel to Tao Xuan. That, and she'd hate to see Yue Lin leave just because her ideals don't necessarily align with the trend that the Alliance has taken. The new shouldn't completely override the old. "Even if his ideas are good, I don't think that Sister Lin should leave."
“Why do you think so?” Yue Lin questions, mostly humoring Su Mucheng as she turns her chair around.
“Sister Lin,” Su Mucheng begins earnestly, taking a seat by the desk. “You’ve been with us since the beginning. No one knows the ins and outs better than you do. You're always here early and one of the last to leave. You take the time to look through everyone's social media, and you're always up to date with what eSports Home and other media outlets have to say about Excellent Era. You personally oversaw how the web designer developed Excellent Era's website and met up with everyone to coach them how to interact with the public. There's probably other things that you've done that I don't know about. I don’t get public relations, but I know that what you do behind the scenes keeps the Club running. You and your team ensure that we have a good relationship with the public, especially with our fan base. You are invaluable to Excellent Era."
“Mucheng … that…” Yue Lin opens and closes her mouth, not knowing what to say. “I didn’t realize you thought so highly of me and my team.”
“Of course I do!" Su Mucheng declares. "It’s not just me, either. Few on the team would think about saying anything to you directly - being allergic to emotions and all - but they appreciate your work! Most of them have no idea what to do with publicity, so it's reassuring for them to have PR to rely on. Actually, rather than PR, I'd say they're relieved they have you to rely on."
“Really?” Feeling stuffy, Yue Lin clasps her hands together on the desk.
"Yep! Like...Ah - don't tell him I said anything, but take Brother Feng, for example. He sometimes gets self-conscious about his place on the team because of all those dumb comments from haters, but he says he always feels reassured when you post about key moments he makes during matches when people say he got in Ye Qiu's way or made a mistake. He also likes how cool you make him look in press releases when he's actually really nervous since he hates speaking in front of crowds. Oh, and Ye Qiu was very grateful when you covered for him and said that he was Brother Feng's cousin when a fan managed to take a picture of him. I could also tell you about the others ... but they might drown me in tears of embarrassment if they ever find out, so ..."
"That's just me doing my job," Yue Lin replies, but the worn look on her face has brightened considerably. "And Ye Qiu came to me personally to ask for help. I wasn't sure what the problem was since you can barely make out any features, but I couldn't say no when he acted like it was going to be the end of his life and career. Honestly, I've never met anyone so averse to being caught on camera. You'd think that he's a criminal in hiding or the runaway son of a powerful family."
Su Mucheng carefully maintains the smile on her face. "Exactly! You don't only care about Excellent Era professionally, but you also personally care about its members. That's the kind of heart you don't really see in corporations nowadays."
Seeing that Yue Lin is seriously considering her words, Su Mucheng readily encourages, "Don't sell yourself yourself short! Take pride in the work that you do! It's okay to show your confidence a little, even if you come off as shameless. Besides, you're working with some of the most shame - er - confident people, so no one would think any less of you! Those in Excellent Era have the right to be confident!"
"Those in Excellent Era have the right to be confident ..." Abruptly, Yue Lin laughs. "Wow, Little Mucheng, you haven't even debuted yet and you're already talking like a veteran professional gamer."
Su Mucheng laughs along good-naturedly. "Half of my life has been involved with gaming so it's not hard."
Hearing about the issues in the Club, Su Mucheng is more certain than ever that something has to be done. Casually crossing her legs, Su Mucheng leans back and says, "I don't have too much on my plate right now since I'm just refining my skills and learning to coordinate with the team. When I'm not practicing or training, I pretty much have nothing to do. You would be able to work better, if smaller tasks were out of your way, right?"
"That's certainly true." Yue Lin doesn't think much of the statement. Her eyes automatically trail to all the open tabs on her laptop and the pile of paperwork on her desk.
"Then, it should be fine if I help out with one of the small tasks, right?"
"Like?" All that work ... it'd be nice if there were more helpers with all her tasks, she thinks as she reflexively raises the cup of coffee to her lips.
"Ye Qiu's relations with the public."
Yue Lin nearly spits out sip of coffee she has just taken. "Hold on, I don't think that can be considered a small task..." Honestly, she didn't think anything that involved 'Ye Qiu' can be considered a small task.
"Ah, I don't mean entirely taking over everything. I have no intention of undermining your work and I have no idea how to handle all the official stuff, but in regards to his public image, I can definitely handle it!"
"..." Yue Lin is not convinced, but Su Mucheng knows this game well. The fact that she hasn't said 'no' and is waiting for her to speak means that Yue Lin is taking her seriously. She just has to convince her. She has to try.
"Sister Lin, why don't you tell me the facts you know about Ye Qiu and how you'd describe him? Try to imagine yourself as a regular fan."
Frowning in thought, Yue Lin replies, "Ye Qiu is the #1 in the Glory Professional Alliance. His titles are the Glory Textbook and master tactician. Currently, he is 21 years old and is the famed user of One Autumn Leaf, the captain of Excellent Era. As for how I'd describe him as a regular fan who only knows him from what they've read and seen in matches... if I was being nice, I'd say he's cool, talented, intelligent, and powerful, definitely someone admirable and worthy of being called a god. If I was being harsh, I'd say he's too mysterious, aloof, uncaring, and arrogant. Someone who only cares about winning."
"And how would you answer the same question as just yourself?"
"Hm ... someone who's unexpectedly humble and down-to-earth and simply just loves to play Glory. Honestly, even though that guy gives me a headache on most days and is entirely too shameless, I wouldn't be wary about relying on him or working with him when he's being cooperative. Other than that ... I hate to say it, but I don't know much else other than what he's willing to show or say. He has a better poker face than a rock sometimes."
"Wouldn't you say there's a discrepancy between the two things you just said?" Su Mucheng prods.
"Well, it can't be helped. There's only so much PR can do when Ye Qiu is unwilling to take part in any activities or reveal any personally identifiable information about himself. I suppose this is what you're aiming to change?"
"Right," Su Mucheng nods in agreement. "From how I see it, the problem is that he has no defining image."
"No defining image?" Yue Lin repeats dubiously. "What do you mean by that?"
"Oh, maybe that wasn't the best way too phrase it, but I mean that his image is built from purely speculations, theories, and rumors. He is only associated with Excellent Era and One Autumn Leaf, maybe Tyranny if you consider our rivalry with them. All anyone knows about him can only be seen through his actions on stage. The only insight anyone has to his personality is how he speaks through voice chats, which is pretty much him trash talking his opponents and giving directions to his teammates. Not to mention, no one ever sees him before or after matches, so it's like he only exists onstage. From that alone, Ye Qiu might as well be One Autumn Leaf, and the impression that everyone has of One Autumn Leaf is - well - the Battle God - the completely terrifying and dominating character that has led Excellent Era to win two championships so far, and from what experts have analyzed, possibly a 3rd championship. To put it very simply, Ye Qiu has become this abstract, faceless god at the top of Glory that no one can really reach or connect with."
Yue Lin looks astonished as she pushes up her glasses, but her eyes have shapened in thought. "I'm not sure if I would go so far as to say Ye Qiu and One Autumn Leaf have become one and the same, and what you say is a little bit harsh and oversimplified, but you bring up some valid points."
"It's not exactly a bad image. There are a lot of fans, especially black powder fans, who like this style. Most fans though, even if they praise their idols as gods, prefer them to be not so far out of reach that it makes no difference if they are a character on screen or an actual person. If this was the case, then fans wouldn't be so excited to watch matches, cheer their team on, or even want to meet with their idols."
"Hm...So you want to improve Ye Qiu's relations with the public by changing his image...?"
"Um, I wouldn't say changing his image ... but more like ... show that there's more to him than what everyone sees?" Su Mucheng taps her chin in thought. "I'd say that as Excellent Era's captain, it's still good for him to carry some air of confidence and strength, just not to the point that he's like some OP, emotionally dead protagonist from some action harem webnovel."
An OP what from what novel?
Yue Lin slowly blinks and considers for a moment if she wants Su Mucheng to explain what she just said, but decides that she's better off not knowing. "And how do you propose we should go about doing that?"
"Posting on Weibo."
Su Mucheng's idea is very simple. Use a large, popular social media platform to give fans glimpses into Ye Qiu's life and personality, like gradually feeding readers little details and developments about a character in a book until readers end up loving the character before they even realize it.
At first glance, the idea seems simple to the point of being nonsensical and meaningless.
But in an age where everything has basically gone online, what better way is there to reach millions of people at once? And considering that the Glory Professional Alliance's main supporters are young people, who basically live on the internet, keep up to date with everything through the internet, connect with everyone through the internet ...
Weibo is already how reporters have been keeping up to date with the lives of pro players, so it's not even something that requires much planning. There is no harm in trying and it takes little to no effort to make a post on Weibo. Plus, for someone like Ye Qiu, who hates to appear in public ...
"You have already talked to Ye Qiu about this?"
"I will. Eventually," Su Mucheng says, completely straight-faced.
"Out of everyone in Excellent Era, there is no one who knows Ye Qiu better than me, and I have a pretty good idea about what his fans are like. All I ask is that you don't interfere - unless I'm screwing something up - and help me keep this under cover from Ye Qiu for as long as possible."
This is the whole reason that Su Mucheng has come to the PR department - to have a fail safe in case anything goes wrong and to prevent PR from putting an end to everything before it has started. The social media accounts of all celebrities are heavily monitored, after all, and it is always a good idea to have an expert on your side.
Honestly, this whole thing would be so much less complicated if Su Mucheng didn't feel the need to hide this from Ye Xiu, but she has doubts about how Ye Xiu would react. It is hard to say whether he would care at all, possibly even finding it funny, or treat the entire thing unnecessary and delete his account before she can even talk him into it.
Better play it safe (and ignore the guilt from going behind Ye Xiu's back).
"How are you so certain that Ye Qiu won't find out?" Yue Lin is honestly perplexed. "It would be a simple matter for him to just look at Weibo or for someone to bring it up to him."
"Oh, Ye Qiu never checks or posts on social media. He hardly checks QQ, which is why everyone always contacts me instead. He doesn't even carry around a phone."
"And no one in Excellent Era would think to show Ye Qiu anything on the phone ... Not many people are close enough to him to treat him like a buddy, and when they do try to show him things on their phones or on the computer, he never reacts so people are just put off."
"If it's a matter of simply showing a post on his account, so many people have brought up accounts named 'Ye Qiu', asking if he posted something, without even checking if it's verified to be him that he won't even bother taking a second glance before denying it."
Yue Lin spends a good while realigning her world view and questioning her life decisions before she finally replies, "Show me your results after two weeks."
What's the point of being the head of a department if she can't throw her weight around once in a while? Besides, if Ye Qiu ends up coming after her head, she can always claim plausible deniability.
“Ye Xiu, I’m going to borrow your account.”
“Okay," he replies, not even bothering to look up.
Su Mucheng takes that as express permission and doesn’t bother telling him that she means his Weibo account and not One Autumn Leaf.
As she leaves the practice room, she takes a moment to look back and watch Ye Xiu. The championships have just ended a week ago with Excellent Era as the victor, but Ye Xiu is already hard at work as he reviews all the championship matches. He is the only that hasn't gone home to visit friends or family during the break.
Rewind. Play. Rewind. Play. Forward. Pause. Play. Rewind. Play.
Ye Xiu doesn't even blink as he stares at the screen with such intensity that Su Mucheng is surprised that Ye Xiu doesn't need glasses after all these years of screen-staring. The only difference after all this time is that person, who is normally reviewing videos right beside him, is no longer there.
She has the perfect idea for 'Ye Qiu's' first post.
16-06, 2018 16:33
You've always liked to silently support the team, but our fans should know how invaluable you have been to Excellent Era. Vice-captain of Excellent Era isn't such a simple title that it can be handed out to just anyone with some skill. Being lucky ... I would say that I was the lucky one to have you as my partner for the past three years. It must not have been easy having all your hard work and skill hidden by the shadows.
You should have just stayed another year, but I can’t stop you from retiring can I? Then again, it would be no fun if Excellent Era won the championships every year. We should let the other teams have a chance, too.
#Season3 #GPA #GloryProfessionalAlliance #retirement #ExcellentEra #EE #WuXuefeng
Forward 574,693 Comments 358,154 Like 893,456
Wei Chen: This is disgusting. You’re disgusting. What is this? You should just let a man bow out silently.
Fang Shijing V: They’re called feelings, something you should consider once in a while, especially when retiring
Er Shen: this reply seems unexpectedly salty?
Blue Rainnana: the story over at the Monastery forums is that the former Blue Rain captain ghosted them so badly that the curse of his power move prevented female players from even daring to stop foot through Blue Rain's doors. that's why some think that Misty Rain should actually be Blue Rain's true rival (because that's where all their potential female teammates ended up going lol)
Feixing: now i want to know if the other teams have stories like this
mengmeng: i heard that when Han Wenqing accidentally startled Guo Mingyu one time, he got so freaked out he accidentally threw a water bottle at his face. an open water bottle. he pissed off Han Wenqing even more when he apologized by throwing a packet of tissues at him before running. some say that the true reason why Guo Mingyu retired was because he could no longer carry the weight of Han Wenqing's eternal glare. of course, i can't verify this story but someone did see Guo Mingyu running with an empty water bottle for some reason
Rocky road: omg why can i actually imagine this? was that why Tyranny delivered such a brutal smackdown to Royal Style back in February?
Yuwai: someone please feed me more of these stories
qewtie: my friend in Tiny Herb told me that Lin Jie was such a nice guy that some pro players felt dirty for trash talking him during matches. sometimes, pro players would apologize after matches but he never took it to heart so he would just bless them with a smile and cause them to cry a river. the true MVP of psychological tactics. though i also heard that he's nice to the point of accepting a lot of sob stories at face value so Fang Shiqian is always hanging around him because he's liable to be scammed or carried off due to his bleeding heart ...
Reply: speaking of nice guys, that reminds me of a story. this is something i only heard in passing from a friend of a friend who wanted to be a pro player but ended up not making the cut. i have a hard time believing it myself, but he told me that if Ye Qiu finds out you're struggling after retiring or not making the cut to become a pro player, he'll lend you money to get back on your feet. said something about understanding what it's like to give up everything to chase a short-lived dream. not calling him a liar, but i know no one in this day and age who would do such a thing. like my stupidly annoying rich classmate who treats money like water until it comes to sharing
Lin Jie V: you never do things by halves do you? Of course, your legendary first post has to be the same (making a touching post while aggroing every single person onto you before Season 4 has even started)
Hickory Tree: okay, but how touching is it that God Ye’s first post is dedicated to his vice-captain? <3
Cloud Walker: i’m not one to be cheesy, but damn i didn’t realize they were such good bros
I h8 people: no one's a better bro than Brother Wu Xuefeng, who would push Ye Qiu into a broom closet without even batting an eye and willingly guard him from a desperate fan until security came running
Pirate parrot: when did this happen? where's your source?
I h8 people: i was that security guard. happened to turn the corner just to see everything go down. the lady was pretty much trying to claw through him and even ended up knocking off his glasses. what an utter pro though, he didn't even flinch even though he was probably blind as ****. even helped me hold onto her so i could call back up. the only good thing about that day was that i managed to get both Ye Qiu's and Wu Xuefeng's autographs even though i still have **** scars on my face from that **** nails. took three of us to carry her off. Ye Qiu had to lead Feng Bro out by the arm because his glasses were basically smashed. had no idea his myopia was that bad
Yesman: man, some fans are **** insane. makes the rest of us look bad. stuff like this is probably one of the reasons why Ye Qiu would rather go through all the trouble of hiding than showing himself
Guo Mingyu V: wow, what happened to i don’t use Weibo, i don’t use a phone, i don’t live in modern society, if you need to contact me, go knock on the rock i live under?
Harem Lord: i can’t tell how much of this is true and how much is exaggerated
go to town: ngl i was convinced he did live under a rock until i saw this post
Twice Scorned: Ye Qiu probably felt moved enough to post something once Wu Xuefeng retired. i just rewatched some older matches, and man, do i feel bad for calling Wu Xuefeng useless now. i will spend the entire day carrying noobs just to remind myself how much of a noob i was back then
Hihi: not to be an **** but i still think that he wasn't that necessary? He kept getting in Ye Qiu's way and his APM isn't even that high
handsum: brother, if you were a true fan of Ye Qiu, you would know that he doesn't say things just to be sentimental and nice, especially when it comes to Glory. actually, i didn't even know that he did sentimental and nice. this is new
Toko49: take the time to watch the matches, you'll see how scarily well he micromanages the field. he's just so subtle that most people don't notice. really a great vice-captain and partner. don't just equate high APM to being good, i'd be more scared of someone who has a slower hand speed but makes every action count. that requires a lot of precision and intelligence. someone like that definitely would definitely have the qualifications to be a master tactician
Haw flakes: it's too bad that he isn't a few years younger though or had faster hand speed. he could have become one of the gods of the Glory Professional Alliance or a top-tiered player
Amazing Face: can i take this is as a sign that Ye Qiu is ready to slowly make his way into modern society? i will wait 100 years if i have to, just to witness the moment he finally reveals himself [clenches fist.jpg]
Passing by: +1
Ghost hunter: +2
Sound ninnin: +3
Yoda I am: can I just say that this made me view Ye Qiu in a new light? i always hated him because he always came off as an overlord who ordered his teammates around while he stole the limelight. what he says during matches usually pisses me off so much that i learned not to leave my keyboard in front of me, but this made me realize that he's probably one of those guys who cares more than he lets on. i had no idea he was so annoyed by what everyone kept saying about Wu Xuefeng.
Harkening: for reals, but you're not wrong about him being arrogant though lol. just look at that last line.
Gu: it goes to show how much faith he has in the strength of Excellent Era
Hikuna: i wouldn't say i hated him so much as i just felt indifferent. in my internet cafe, he's lthe ****. unsurprising since most of them are Excellent Era fans, but i always liked the other players better because i could see how much they struggled to get to where they are, how much effort they put into their team and into improving themselves. i always liked feeling like i was fighting side-by-side with my team (Tiny Herb ftw) but this is probably the first time i've actually thought about how much effort Excellent Era put in to get to where they are. huh
Wu Xuefeng: I didn’t realize you felt so strongly
One Autumn Leaf: about what?
Wu Xuefeng: My retirement
One Autumn Leaf: didn’t I say before? you should have just stayed another year
Wu Xuefeng: You did. Sorry, I didn’t realize how much me leaving would affect you
One Autumn Leaf: how cold. i didn't take you to be a heartless person. do you know how much extra work i have to do now?
Wu Xuefeng: It’s okay, I understand now. You could have said something before I left the country though
One Autumn Leaf: what could i have said? it wouldn't have changed anything. i still need to find a new vice-captain.
Wu Xuefeng: Now i don’t know if i can feel at ease
One Autumn Leaf: why are you suddenly filled with worries and realizations?
One Autumn Leaf: if you’re going to retire, retire peacefully
One Autumn Leaf: leave it to us youngsters to take the stage
One Autumn Leaf: i’ll bring us another victory
Wu Xuefeng: You better live up to your words now that you've said it
One Autumn Leaf: of course, when have i ever not followed through?
Wu Xuefeng: ...Also, thank you for believing in me all these years. I do consider myself to have been lucky enough to be part of Excellent Era
One Autumn Leaf: Brother Feng, don't be silly. it has nothing to do with luck. you earned your place on the team. no one knows that better than me.
One Autumn Leaf: now stop being so sentimental, your old man tendencies are starting to show
Wu Xuefeng: An old man has the right to be sentimental
One Autumn Leaf: and a young man has no time for sentiments
That first post is like a spark that set off a wildfire. Seeing the outpour of discussion and shock is alarming to witness, with some discussions having gotten so intense that Su Mucheng is pretty certain that some people forgot that they weren't on a forum. The actual forums are even more outrageously lit.
She waits for the discussion to die down, eyeing #Ye Qiu's first post# as it hangs ominously onto 3rd place before it slowly drops down from the trending rankings.
So much power at her fingertips ... Su Mucheng is equally pleased and astonished. The weight of Ye Xiu's name is no joke. Hits for #Ye Qiu#, #Wu Xuefeng#, #Excellent Era# soar in popularity.
Very quickly, two weeks passes by and Su Mucheng waits for the verdict in Yue Lin's office.
“Not bad. I'll keep watch to see how things go, but you’re informally hired as Ye Qiu's PR manager,” Yue Lin tells her, glasses glinting. A satisfied but devious smile is on her face.
And thus, begins the start of what Su Mucheng secretly calls, "Ye Qiu's True Debut".
No one likes being told how to think. That is why it's often hard to maintain good publicity when people know PR is behind it. They automatically question the authenticity of what PR says. But let people come to their own conclusions, and that is an entirely different story.
It would be weird and out of character for Ye Xiu to post on a consistent basis. His die-hard fans would immediately figure out that something is amiss, but she needs to naturally change his image, like a subtly winding path, so she posts once in a while about mundane things.
Most of it is about Glory - insights into the game, tips on how to perform certain maneuvers, commentary about the game, what he liked and didn’t like after trying out the 4th server, the All-Star Weekend, and more. If Ye Xiu thinks that Su Mucheng is asking all these questions to better understand Glory … Well, it isn’t a lie that she finds newfound appreciation for Glory and knows more about all the classes than she ever expects to. It is hard not to get swept up into Ye Xiu's enthusiasm once he gets started.
She also notices that the game company has started following his Weibo, taking his commentary into serious consideration to improve the gaming experience. Anything coming from a God level player’s virtual mouth isn’t something to be brushed aside. It’s not like anything Su Mucheng posts is purely fabricated either - everything she posts is something Ye Xiu has said or implied. She just posts it in a readable 'Ye Qiu' format.
Yue Lin calls her a natural PR manager, and Su Mucheng wears the unofficial title with pride. The work is more exhausting than she expects, but it is the good kind of exhausting - the accomplished happiness you would feel after a good run or finishing a long-term project.
Scouring the forums and fan sites, Su Mucheng keeps track of any commentary on ‘Ye Qiu’. She is pleased to see that negative posts, like those discussing how 'Ye Qiu' comes off as aloof, superior, and annoyingly mysterious, how all he cares about is winning matches, how rude he is for not interacting with fans and leaving his team to deal with all the press conferences, have lessened. Now there are more positive posts and comments, like ones talking about how amazing 'Ye Qiu' is, how he doesn't treat Glory simply as a game, how reliable he must be as a captain and teacher.
His image begins to take shape as someone who seems detached and cold at first, but cares about Excellent Era. Someone who just enjoys playing Glory, which automatically endears him with any casual fans.
All is going well until Su Mucheng accidentally makes a post on Ye Xiu’s Weibo that should have been on hers.
Ye Qiu V
06-04, 2019 17:24
“Now spring is here the lake seems a painted picture,
Unruly peaks all round the edge, the water spread out flat.
Pines in ranks on the face of the hills, a thousand layers of green:
The moon centred on the heart of the waves, just one pearl.
Thread ends of an emerald-green rug, the extruding paddy-shoots:
Sash of a blue damask skirt, the expanse of new reeds.
If I cannot bring myself yet to put Hangzhou behind me,
Half of what holds me here is on this lake.” - Bai Juyi
[the sun has just set; a hint of the moon can be seen hovering above the fire-tinted clouds; fresh white blossoms surround a pond of clear water, shimmering from the glow of freshly lit city lamps.jpg]
#spring #hangzhou #scenery #poetry #SMC #SuMucheng
Forward 793,343 Comments 693,432 Like 923, 543
Wang Jiexi V: I didn't realize Hangzhou had such pleasant scenery. I should take a better look next time we are there.
Lufan: Hangzhou is the best city!!! There's a lot of cool, hidden sights that only locals know about. It's a city filled with interesting history and people (and random freaking squirrels popping out at you from nowhere) you should ask around :)
Rongfei: fierce squirrels that fear no man
Tiansen87: yeah because of all the tourists feeding them as if they're feeding their own grandchildren lol
Huang Shaotian V: what are you looking at? All i see are a bunch of weeds and water. The scene isn’t that great. Guangzhou has a lot of better things to see. That tiny pond is small enough to be called a puddle. If even puddles can be called scenery now then even I can wait for a rainy day and take a picture of the ground. If even weeds can be called flowers then gardeners would run out of a job. Also, instead of Bai Juyi I would have chosen Li Bai.
Final form: I bow to God Huang, even as tears stream down my face (Loudly Crying Face )(Loudly Crying Face )(Loudly Crying Face ) I can't tell if his standard for beauty is too high or too low
Tic toc: if his standard is too high, then all his dates would get a cart of flowers specially delivered from France. if his standard is too low ... weeds are resilient?
youtiao: i love how optimistic you are trying to be
Lalalaing: someone put this in the Monastery forum
Yu Wenzhou V: It is nice to see someone else who also appreciates nature, Senior. Unlike someone, who could only appreciate nature as a parrot.
Strongarm: Is he talking about Huang Shao?
Wooly: it's just Blue Rain's captain taking care to always give Huang Shao some shade. what a nice guy.
Null boy: yeah, so nice that the team's chatterbox immediately goes silent the moment Yu Wenzhou smiles in his direction
SuSu: they have such a good relationship lol
Hello? Wei?: when i see this kind of scene, i can't help but imagine Ye Qiu as a general standing on a pier, staring off into the distant mountains as his subordinates report to him about their most recent victories. then, when a subordinate tells him that the enemies are coming, he just smirks, and says, "let them come, we will cut them down before they can even set foot onto our lands"
Talon: this was his past life. modern day Ye Qiu doesn't even need to get out of his chair to win wars. just by moving his hands, he can control the battlefield and direct his allies. when they come to tell him the enemies are coming, he just types out, "if you're going to come, hurry up and come, so I can take you all out at once."
Ratchet hands: wow, if i had either of your way with words, my sister would stop calling me a degenerate waste of an oxygen tank or a self-peeling potato that's not even kawaii every time she sees me playing Glory
Yakult: Brother, you might as well wish to have a way with words in your next life because all that talent obviously went to your sister (who i now both fear and admire)
Yesterday is tomorrow: tomorrow’s headlines: God Ye’s true secret to being #1 in the Alliance is by reading the words of the ancients, cultivating his energy in nature, and taking a break on his path to immortality just to play in matches. once in a while, he likes to reminisce about his past life while he creates a new era in his name
Li Xuan V: i've always thought fans were creative but this entire comment section just became next level horrifying to imagine
Zhang Jiale V: you haven't seen next level horrifying until you accidentally find yourself on lofter
Wooly: (lights incense)
Su Mucheng fixes her mistake by basically throwing herself at the problem.
Su Mucheng V: I'm glad you enjoyed the book I gave you! :D
Swiftblades: i was going to ask if Goddess Su was messing around on God Ye’s account but nvm
Ru Yuan: that's cute. he even tagged her so that she could see. look how proud she is. it's like a kid showing his mom that he can now read big words, except Ye Qiu is older and I have no idea what their relationship is
Piripri: i'm sorry, i would also like to move on and discuss their relationship, but i'm still stuck on the fact that Ye Qiu apparently reads poetry and takes nature pics in his free time
Chu Yunxiu V: @Su_Mucheng omg you’ve created something seriously scary
Later that night, Su Mucheng subtly asks Chu Yunxiu about her opinion on the post. The last thing she wants is to make Ye Xiu scary, but she can't understand why Chu Yunxiu would say such a thing.
Windy Rain: it scared me because it came from Senior Ye
Dancing Rain: why?
Windy Rain: Mumu, don’t you know the tastes of our generation?
Windy Rain: girls these days like a guy with a soft, sentimental side
Windy Rain: i actually prefer them myself
Windy Rain: it’s hard dealing with meatheads and gym buffs
Windy Rain: all they talk about is gym, MMA, games, sports, and testosterone
Dancing Rain: do they really? I've met plenty of manly men who are the complete opposites
Windy Rain: okay, not all, but all the guys i’ve had the misfortune of getting to know have been
Windy Rain: it seriously gets old. if i want a guy to carry my bags and lift heavy things, i’d just hire someone
Windy Rain: but when a guy shows he’s intelligent and caring, hard working and reliable, hot damn
Windy Rain: you know how there’s the next generation woman? That’s the next generation man who’s popular these days
Windy Rain: even better if he’s good looking
Dancing Rain: are you saying Ye Qiu isn’t good looking?
Windy Rain: hahaha
Windy Rain: Mumu please
Windy Rain: don't you dare make me answer that!!!
Dancing Rain: qwq
Windy Rain: nope I'm not falling for that
Windy Rain: i know you too well
Windy Rain: anyway i hope Senior Ye realizes he’s just made himself an eligible bachelor to all female (and probably many male) fans
Dancing Rain: oh
Windy Rain: yes, oh
The next time Su Mucheng makes what she calls a major post, Liu Hao has just debuted in Season 5 as a Spellblade and as the vice-captain. She has only spent time with him once, during the brief period they were in the training camp together. Just that one interaction made her realize that he is the combination of the worst three things: a fanboy with a fragile ego and a prideful heart. She's certain that if she doesn’t do something, fire will rain down from the sky or something equally disastrous.
Things were, thankfully fine, for the most part when Liu Hao was still being trained, if not for a few iffy touch-and-go moments, because Ye Xiu was simply too busy to drop by the training camp most days.
But things are different now that Liu Hao has become part of the team. That means that he and Ye Xiu will see each other on a daily basis.
What she expects comes to pass two weeks after the start of the season. Ye Xiu treats everyone equally. In this case, that means he critiques everyone in front of each other equally. In the past, this was a great way to boost team morale and coordination. It allowed each member to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, showed them at their best and worst, and taught them how to motivate and push each other. But most of them had met in game before joining Excellent Era, so they knew each other beforehand, and learned prior to the Alliance to trust in Ye Xiu and each other.
With this almost entirely new team, they take it as Ye Xiu berating them and being purposefully hard on them, but no one takes it as worst as Liu Hao, who idolizes 'Ye Qiu'. Everyone shares a wary look when Liu Hao storms out of the room with a snarl after practice while Ye Xiu shakes his head, exuding disappointment as he walks out right after, cigarette already in hand.
That night, Su Mucheng carefully returns to her room and even checks to see if Ye Xiu is in his room before she makes her post. It has never been more important that Ye Xiu conceivably posts when no one is looking than now.
Thankfully, she had the foresight to make posts for the others when they’ve first joined, so it isn’t so suspicious when she makes one for Liu Hao. She is careful to keep in mind what Ye Xiu has said to Liu Hao as she makes the post, taking his innate selfishness and giant ego into consideration. What should she say to properly deflate Liu Hao's ego, reign in his innate selfishness, prevent his fanboy attitude from self-destructing, and cater to his prideful heart?
...Fuck, she has such a strong urge hit him.
It takes her a good 30 minutes before she is finally satisfied enough to carefully press 'Post'. Even then, Su Mucheng wonders if this post might have been a little too strong or expressive for 'Ye Qiu'. The 'literary romantic' posts have only done so much to soften the edges.
At the very least, Liu Hao will definitely see the post since he constantly checks for hits on his name in his free time. She will have to rely on the netizens to do the rest (and hope that she doesn't need to be on homicide duty tomorrow).
Ye Qiu V
Looking forward to Season 5 of the Glory Professional Alliance. Let's welcome vice-captain Liu Hao to Excellent Era. It's not easy leading a team, but there is no one who can lead without understanding and believing in those who walk beside him. If I am hard on my team, it is because I believe in their capabilities. If I am even harder on my vice-captain, it's because he is the one that I have the greatest expectations for. To be the vice-captain requires great resilience and strength, which can only be gained through experience and conscientious effort.
No one in Excellent Era is someone who knows the meaning of giving up. There is no such thing as a solitary victory. The captain may be the one in the spotlight, but it is the vice-captain who allows the rest of the team to shine, and it is the team that makes every action count.
Excellent Era will only rise and fall as one.
#GloryProfessioanalAlliance #GPA #Season5 #welcome #EE #ExcellentEra #LiuHao
Forward 664,322 Comments 723,654 Like 832,321
Tian Sen V: well said, senior. nothing is more encouraging than seeing your loyalty to your team even though we are opponents. i still have to admit that i don't get why Excellent Era keeps communicating with each other through social media though (even more so than Samsara).
Yang Cong V: this method of indirect and silent encouragement is such a hands-off approach, i'm not sure i should applaud you or view you in contempt. imagine finishing practice, going on social media to relax, and then realizing you can't even get a break because your captain is still not done with you. then you feel like you can't be done if your captain is still working hard and thinking about the team. How opportunistic...hold on, something doesn't feel right...is this in line with your black heart?
Sun Zheping V: no, it is very much in line with his black heart. there's no proper motivation than to always feel like you have a sword at your neck. he is simply using the least amount of effort and human interaction possible to make them reflect on their actions and potential instead of his plan and intentions. it's like using misdirection to get the greatest results, so they can properly focus during training ... i think.
Ley Ling: somehow, i get the impression that all the team captains have the greatest understanding of each other's personalities, yet are somehow also the ones most baffled. I can almost hear them all collectively shouting, Ye Qiu!! What are you up to now!?
Go5: i think it's the backlash of knowing someone too well to the point you're not certain if what you know is actually what you know, or what you're inferring from what you know
Jinsu: even though you dumbed down what you said, i still have no idea what you mean. i just want to know how the other team captains train and motivate their team if this is Excellent Era's style
Tryharder: Excellent Era's style is too soft. this is why Tyranny's style is a lot better. the team only needs to feel Han Wenqing's presence to feel properly motivated and if there's anything in their way, just smash through it or yell it out. all this thinking, thinking, thinking, so annoying
Summer leaves: yeah, you Tyranny fans just keep smashing and yelling while EE outsmarts you. we'll even provide you bricks to keep you happy
Wu Xuefeng V: good luck, vice-captain Liu Hao
Wooing Yu: omg from former vice-captain to current vice-captain
Playduh: the torch must always be passed on to ensure that the flames of victory never go out for EE!!!
Guanguan: i hope he gets his **** together. his performance in the most recent match was barely passable at best
Excel lexce: if he was made vice-captain of EE then he obviously has to be capable in some way. i'm more willing to give him a chance and see him improve since Ye Qiu seems to think he just needs to adjust, but i swear he was trying to piss rainbows with all the flashy moves he was doing in the latest match
Singsen7: if he sucks just kick him
Fon: he has so much to live up to though after Ye Qiu made everyone take a look at Wu Xuefeng and see how vital he was to EE. i hope he's ready for all the pressure. vice-captain of EE is such a prestigious position, i'd be pissed off if he makes EE look bad. me and my friends are ready to cross the street and have words if things go south for EE this season
Wei Feiran: @Liu_Hao i know you're up
Xia Ming: QAQ I wish captain was kinder with his words in person than he is on Weibo. i brush Weibo every day just to get an insight into what he's thinking. he used to be so much more open, i have no idea what happened ah
Jiang Bai: although i hate to say it, sometimes i do feel like a stranded man just waiting for fresh water. and then i get mad because i'm happy when i get water from the one who deprived me of it in the first place
Xu Zhen: captain truly is a hard person to understand
Qin Tianran: no, he’s easy to understand when you realize that he does everything because he cares a lot ... maybe a little too much
Xu Zhen: i say ... captain truly is a hard person to understand
Rufang: i can't tell if i should feel concern or amused
Guiling: same, but it's clear that they are true comrades (even if it's through mutual suffering in this case)
Qin Tianran: you're right. we laugh and cry together as true comrades hahaha
A mango’s tail: Jiayou, vice-captain Liu Hao! Don't listen to what anti-fans say!! We true fans of Excellent Era will be here to support you!! We definitely think that you have what it takes to be the vice-captain of Excellent Era!! Work hard together with God Ye to bring Excellent Era another championship title!!!
Breaking fast: +1
Walrus flub: +2
Broken wings: + my phone #
Thousands of comments follow. Many of them express discontent or uncertainty about Liu Hao, others are simply nonsensical and trollish, quite a few are EE and Tyranny fans duking it out, but the majority of them are positive comments about Excellent Era's future and Liu Hao's place on the team.
“Captain, did you mean what you said?” Liu Hao demands as he strides into the cafeteria, looking as deranged and sleep-deprived as one of the zombies in Boneyard.
Ye Xiu looks up from his breakfast, still half-asleep without his cigarettes. He stares blankly at Liu Hao, not expecting to see him this early in the morning or at all. He is consistently barely on time to practice.
“What I said? What did I say?” Ye Xiu asks, stirring his congee as he thinks about what Liu Hao could mean. He doesn't recall saying anything that required follow-up.
“About … working together ... my potential and capabilities ... and stuff.”
“And stuff," Ye Xiu repeats dubiously.
Ye Xiu resists the urge to sigh once he realizes this is going to be one of those conversations.
He has no idea when he has become the team's counselor, which is certainly not in his job description as captain, and spends more time concerned with the team's mental well-being than he wants to be. With the exception of Qin Tianran, Xia Ming, and Su Mucheng who he has known before the start of Excellent Era, everyone else is ... moody ... for a lack of better way to describe their attitudes.
He would critique them during practice. They would get angry, upset, or embarrassed, maybe even go silent for the rest of the day. They would spend a day brooding, and then come to him the next day, all uncertain about his words. He would then assure them that he says what he means (because he absolutely has no reason to lie or mince words), and then they would stare at him with complicated eyes, as if they have misunderstood him all this time. In the end, they would attend practice, revived as if they have received the flames of rebirth. The process would cycle or take detours until they arrive at the point of being able to smile or nod determinedly when Ye Xiu critiques them.
It is honestly quite scary and baffling. Instead of leading a team, it sometimes feels like he has become the dad of a family of goblins, and now the process begins anew with the latest goblin to enter their party.
Feeling wrong-footed as Liu Hao stares deeply and expectantly at him, Ye Xiu reluctantly abandons his food and prepares himself for the conversation.
"Perhaps, I don't get my points across as well as I want to, but if you came here for clarification, then I will say this: even though Boss Tao and Manager Cui selected you to become vice-captain, I wouldn't have agreed if I didn't see potential in you somewhere. I wouldn't accept anyone with just skill as the vice-captain." Raising his hand, Ye Xiu points at Liu Hao. "When you're not focused on irrelevant things, you have a strong awareness of the field and have no problems with adapting to changes in rhythm and timing. As a Spellblade class, one that is specialized in mid-range attacks, wave formations, and wave swords, that is ideal."
Crossing his arms, Ye Xiu concludes with, "But only half of your skill is shown during matches and you don't react fast enough because you're too focused on flashy movements and being at the center of everything."
Liu Hao splutters, “But that’s the best place to be as a professional gamer!”
“If that’s what you truly think, then you still have a lot to learn, vice-captain Liu Hao," Ye Xiu sternly reminds him with a frown. "Don’t forget the responsibilities of a vice-captain and what it means to be one.”
Liu Hao clenches his fist, expression twisting deeply, half spitting out, “You mean to allow the rest of the team to shine?”
That is a strange choice of words ...? Ye Xiu isn't expecting to hear such a phrase from Liu Hao.
"If you want to think of it like that, then yes, but if you think that's all vice-captains do, then, let me take this time to enlighten you. When I'm not available, you will essentially become the captain in my place. I may be the one leading, but you will be the one assisting me in planning our strategies, building team exercises, and organizing practices. To prep for matches, I'll need you to review VODs with me to gauge our opponent's conditions and to review our own conditions."
Seeing Liu Hao remain silent with his eyes glazed, Ye Xiu wonders if he has said something wrong. Still, he remains calm, as he adds on, "If you're that interested in the spotlight, then work hard to make yourself stand out by relying on your actual skills and capabilities and not your ego and pride. Besides, I don't are for the spotlight. Something like that belongs more to unsung hero types, so I could care less if you want that spot."
Liu Hao’s mouth opens and closes a few times. “... I have that much power? You have faith in my skills and capabilties? Even compared to that guy --"
"That guy?" Ye Xiu repeats in confusion when Liu Hao suddenly cuts himself off, exuding a weird combo of jealousy and uncertainty.
"No one," Liu Hao bites with a severe expression.
They stare at each for a moment before Ye Xiu decides he is most likely better off not knowing who Liu Hao is talking about. If Liu Hao chooses to pursue a one-sided rivalry, then that isn't any of his business.
“I wouldn’t call it power and faith is a strong word, but it's natural to rely on your teammates ..." Ye Xiu feels his skin prickle as Liu Hao's eyes practically glow.
Stepping forward, Liu Hao excitedly exclaims, “Then, you rely on me and think that I can be an unsung hero?"
Ye Xiu immediately leans away from Liu Hao, who has cornered him against the table and wall of the cafeteria. Angling even further to the side, such that he would have fallen off the chair if not for the wall, Ye Xiu warily states, "I advise you to take the time to re-read your contract and give your brain some work to do, and whether you can be that unsung hero type..." Ye Xiu deeply regrets his choice of words. "That's for you to decide."
“I have one last thing to ask. Through experience and conscientious effort, do you think I'll be able to overcome anything and anyone?”
"Is that something that needs to be asked?" Ye Xiu edges out from the other side of the table, sliding through the gap. Without taking his eyes off of Liu Hao, he circles around him towards the exit but Liu Hao just circles around like a demented owl. “Look, whether or not you have talent, you still need to rely on hard work to get anywhere. If it's a matter of thought, it'll get you nowhere, but find the answer for yourself once you've worked ... hard ...”
Ye Xiu falters and trails off as Liu Hao’s eyes practically start glowing with resolute fervor. “Okay! I got it! I will work hard to fulfill your expectations and lead our team to victory! No! I will lead our team to consecutive championships! You can count on me, captain!”
“I am leaving first.” Ye Xiu declares with forced calm, backing out of the cafeteria doors before Liu Hao can think of doing anything chilling, like grabbing onto his hands.
He makes it ten steps down the hallway before he hears, “Captain, wait, I will come train with you, too!”
Su Mucheng finds out that day that one of the few things that can unsettle Ye Xiu is a grown man practically fawning over him. She has never seen him look so dead inside, but she is sure that she and the rest of the team just want to die.
The week after Liu Hao's confrontation with Ye Xiu, Su Mucheng receives an anonymous package filled with sweets and snacks, which must have come from Yue Lin.
[Good call] a card reads. [There were some touchy moments once the media picked it up, but I took care of it :P]
A few months in, she realizes that she did make a good call with Liu Hao, especially when Chen Yehui begins making his rounds around Excellent Era, talking trash about Ye Xiu behind his back. To be fair, Chen Yehui couldn't be begrudged for hating Ye Xiu since he essentially crushed his dreams of becoming a professional player, but there is a huge difference between feeling resentment and disappointment and actively blaming all your faults on someone for being professional and trying to ruin their career and reputation out of spite.
Nothing shuts up Chen Yehui faster than a fanatic Liu Hao, who can somehow always sense when someone is talking shit about The Captain of Excellent Era, whose policy is starting to veer dangerously close into 'Talk Shit, Get Hit' territory.
Even Cui Li doesn't escape his radar.
...Well, as long as he keeps up with practice and performs well, this kind of attitude ... should be fine, right?
December 2019, a few days before Christmas ...
"Mucheng ... I need your insight on something. How do you know if a man admires you, or has feelings for - likes - feeling. Has a feeling."
"I know enough to tell you that whoever you're talking about definitely does not have that towards you."
A sigh of relief.
"Okay, that's good to know. Thanks."
Su Mucheng honestly has no idea if Liu Hao's devotion to Excellent Era and Ye Xiu extends in that direction, but Su Mucheng refuses to have Liu Hao as a brother-in-law. Ye Xiu can do so, so much better and she has no desire to deal with the aftermath if such a relationship is to happen. Everyone's collective shock and horror might even be enough to empower Su Muqiu to rise from his grave out of sheer concern.
It is a good thing that Ye Xiu has the romantic capacity of a tea mug on a good day and implicitly trusts Su Mucheng in matters that involved the 'cardiovascular organ' as Ye Xiu likes to call it.
Ye Xiu has always 'pretended' not to have any idea about the Weibo posts and typically responds to everyone's random or abrupt conversation topics without batting an eye. Only one person has directly brought up 'his Weibo posts' and Ye Xiu immediately denied their existence, certain that he must have mistaken him for someone else with the same name. The employee had no choice but to believe him or look stupid even though he was certain that the account was verified properly.
Almost like a script afterwards, everyone 'catches on' that Ye Xiu just doesn't like to expose his 'softer side' in real life, not comfortable with being that direct without a medium.
This stalemate lasts for quite a few years, but the inevitable still has to happen.
One day, serious questions about whether or not Ye Xiu is actually the one making the posts begin to circulate Excellent Era. Ye Xiu never posts when he is around people, but surely he couldn't have used a computer each time? Though his posts are usually just text, there had been a few with pictures. Then, how has he been taking pictures? Is he just that stealthy and discreet?
The fact that no one has ever seen him carrying a phone around, and even denies having one, starts to make people wonder if Ye Xiu is being truthful or if he just has no shame about actively denying the truth.
“Do you think that maybe it’s the PR department making the posts?”
“It could be, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone from the PR department hanging around Ye Qiu. Sometimes, I see him with Yue Lin, but that's about it.”
“Maybe, it’s Mucheng?”
"I thought so, too. She'd be the most likely person, but she also looks just as dubious when Ye Qiu denies anything. Also, all the pictures are taken from the front-facing angle where you can kind of see his reflection sometimes, and the types of pictures that she takes for her Weibo are completely different. The only similarities between their posts are the ones about life, nature, or poetry, but I saw Ye Qiu reading a poetry book once so ... Ah, not to mention his posts sound exactly like him and nothing like Mucheng."
"Uh, wow. You put a lot of thought into this."
"It's one of Excellent Era's biggest mysteries. How can I not put a lot of thought into it? I spend most of my time in the R&D department and Guan Rongfei is a terrible conversationalist. That guy - it's all silver equipment, silver equipment, silver equipment with him. If I have nothing constructive to say, he tries to tape my mouth shut."
“Haha, no wonder why you're always lurking around our department. It's strange though. Ye Qiu has always been a private person, but I've never understood why he rarely discloses anything about himself. I've been working here since the beginning and literally the only personal detail I've learned about him since then is that he is a Beijinger. It makes people curious to know more."
"I don't know anything that you don't know. The only personal detail I know is that he absolutely hates being out in the streets on rainy days, but isn't that everyone? If I ever find out more, you'd be the first to know, except, with this level of secrecy, I fear that I'll be dragged off the moment I find out the truth."
"Hahaha, don't be crazy. He probably just has an awkward family background or something. Oh, our break is almost over, we should start heading back."
"En. That seems most likely. I can't imagine that his family would have proudly sent him off to play games. He was young enough to have barely made the age restriction back then, so he probably dropped out of high school to join."
"But he brought in three championships! That's so much money. If it was my parents, they'd be ... so ... his...?"
As their conversation fades away, Su Mucheng peeks her head out of one of the training rooms. Wow, the employees at Excellent Era gossip even more than her and Chu Yunxiu.
Surprisingly, they're pretty spot on - not that she will confirm or deny anything if asked.
Most importantly, it is a sign that it's time for Ye Xiu to 'reveal' himself.
Dancing Rain: Hi hi ~ it’s me ٩(◕‿◕｡)۶
Ye Qiu: Sorry, who are you?
Dancing Rain: oh, it’s Su Mucheng
Dancing Rain: we met a few years ago. i’m the girl that thought you were trying to steal Ye Xiu so i threw water at your head.
Ye Qiu: …Yes, I remember.
Dancing Rain: sorry about that by the way (つω`｡) i was kind of an impulsive and bratty kid
Ye Qiu: What's in the past is in the past.
Ye Qiu: You're not messaging me just to apologize are you?
Dancing Rain: I wanted to talk about presents :)
Ye Qiu: ?
Dancing Rain: your birthdays! ☆*:.｡.o(≧▽≦)o.｡.:*☆
Dancing Rain: I know that you guys exchange gifts each year
Dancing Rain: this year, you should get Ye Xiu a phone ;)
Ye Qiu: Why?
Dancing Rain: you’ve been keeping up with his Weibo posts, right?
Ye Qiu: No.
Dancing Rain: :)
Dancing Rain: :)
Dancing Rain: :)
Ye Qiu: Okay, yes, but it’s just to casually keep up with what he’s been up to.
Ye Qiu: Anyway, what does that have to do with getting a new phone?
Dancing Rain: well, he’s been using mine, and though he doesn’t post a lot, i thought it’d be nice for him to be able to have his own
Ye Qiu: Why can't you just get him one? Not to be rude, but to my understanding, you get paid well, so it shouldn't be overly expensive
Dancing Rain: nooo you're missing the point. the gift can't come from me. he won't accept it :(
Dancing Rain: he would think i'm messing around since i've been trying to get him a phone all these years
Dancing Rain: that, or he'd take it seriously, and just give it back for me to use
Dancing Rain: even though i have a job now he still sometimes treats me like a jobless child trying to get their parent an expensive gift (╥_╥)
Ye Qiu: I still see this as him not wanting a phone ...
Dancing Rain: he really doesn't hate phones
Dancing Rain: i said it'd be nice for him to have a phone so he can just post whenever he wants, but the truth is ...
Ye Qiu: The truth is...?
Dancing Rain: it's very inconvenient for him these days without one since basically everything has gone online. i'm not only talking about paying for basic things like food and transportation either.
Dancing Rain: a few months ago, he accidentally got separated from us when we were in Nanjing
Dancing Rain: there was an event that night and we thought it'd be a good idea for a team bonding activity
Dancing Rain: because it started snowing pretty heavily and the area wasn't so good, my phone signal kept getting dropped. we couldn't figure out where he was since we're only familiar with the areas around Wind Howl and their sports center
Dancing Rain: he used the last of his cash to call us and there weren't any taxis in the area, so he decided to just walk around until he found familiar areas instead of waiting for us. thankfully, he was able to make his way back to Wind Howl since he probably would have frozen before he made it back to the hotel
Dancing Rain: apparently when Senior Lin came out to call him a taxi, he almost called an ambulance instead because he thought that Ye Xiu had passed out from the cold
Ye Qiu: ???
Dancing Rain: don't worry, he was just sleepy from the cold weather and didn't even get sick after
Dancing Rain: there was this other time when we were in Qingdao and he ran into some thugs while he was waiting for us outside the stadium
Ye Qiu: stop!!!
Dancing Rain: ?
Ye Qiu: Say no more, you're going to give me a heart attack!
Dancing Rain: So you get my point right? :) you should get him a phone!
Dancing Rain: he could care less about having or not having a phone, but he just doesn't like getting contacted by certain people
Dancing Rain: also he never refuses your gifts
Ye Qiu: Alright, enough. I get what you're trying to say
Dancing Rain: :D
Ye Qiu: Before I agree to anything, I have one question
Dancing Rain: ?
Ye Qiu: When were you going to tell me that you were the one making the Weibo posts?
Dancing Rain: o_O
Dancing Rain: how did you know????
Ye Qiu: I didn't until you confirmed it just now
Dancing Rain: ???
Ye Qiu: I asked him about one of his posts a while back
Ye Qiu: But he said that the post was most likely from the PR department
Ye Qiu: Knowing how lazy and sly my brother is, I just assumed that he somehow convinced them to just hire a PR manager to run his account while he just provides input
Ye Qiu: Then you told me that he apparently uses your phone to make posts
Ye Qiu: I just went along until I figured out that you probably needed my stupidly oblivious brother to look like he's the one posting now because people are catching on
Dancing Rain: ..............................
Dancing Rain: you two really run on the same genes
Dancing Rain: also, you couldn't have started off with that?
Ye Qiu: You didn't just throw water at me, you threw mop water. And you lured me in with a scare tactic. Consider this a debt repaid.
Dancing Rain: QAQ
Ye Qiu: Sometimes I forget that if there is something weird going on, it doesn't automatically mean that my stupid brother is the one scheming behind the scenes
Ye Qiu: I'm honestly shocked he hasn't noticed
Dancing Rain: hey, i'm a lot more careful than you think. i just made a mistake thinking you were as gullible as Ye Xiu made you sound
Ye Qiu: ...
Dancing Rain: alright, i admit that was uncalled for. i bow my head in apology. let's call a truce.
Ye Qiu: Not until I know exactly what you are up to. He may be a bastard on the best of days, but that's still my older brother who I feel some tiny sense of familial obligation for
Dancing Rain: fair enough :) you don't know me, so you only have my word to take for it, but i promise the only ulterior motive i have is sticking it to any of Ye Xiu's enemies
Dancing Rain: i'm not sure if Ye Xiu has ever mentioned me to you, but i would never hurt someone who watched over me as if it was his responsibility to do so and refused to abandon me even though it made his life so much harder
Dancing Rain: only me and the PR head know what's going on, but i’m posting on Weibo to maintain his good publicity and relations with the fans in case things don't work out with Excellent Era
Ye Qiu: If things don't work out with Excellent Era?
Dancing Rain: it's a long story, but i can tell you about it later tonight! i have to get on a flight soon, so i'll also tell you about my plan too. dw i'm not just randomly posting and i do plan to tell Ye Xiu eventually and even maybe get him to start posting on his own
Dancing Rain: but before that, are we still in agreement about the phone?
Dancing Rain: as an olive branch, i'll even finish my story earlier about Qingdao
Dancing Rain: once they found out that he had no money, they said sorry and even bought him some street food before leaving
Dancing Rain: it'd just have been good for him to have a phone on hand in case he runs into not so nice thugs, you know?
Ye Qiu: ...
Ye Qiu: ...I kind of hate you
Dancing Rain: LOL
Dancing Rain: how sad, i was just thinking that we are going to get along just fine :)
“Why do you look like you’re in pain? Did you get a stomach ache?” Su Mucheng asks when she enters Ye Xiu's room, pausing when she spots the pinched look on his face as he eyes the opened delivery box on his lap.
“I have no idea why my brother thinks I would want a phone all of a sudden,” Ye Xiu responds suspiciously, picking up the phone between his forefingers like trash. If the latest phone model by Xuanwei company can be considered trash.
“Well…” Su Mucheng purposefully lets the word hang for extra emphasis. “It has been, what, two or three years since he last saw you in person? Maybe he just misses his bro and wants to stay in better contact, rather than waiting for you to reply once every ten years on the computer. That, or he's being very considerate and insightful, considering how everything has gone online in the past few years. Didn't you say how troublesome it was that some places no longer accepted cash?"
“Yeah, but I doubt that he bought me a phone for any of those reasons,” Ye Xiu says, even though he no longer looks like he's considering throwing the phone out his window. "If anything, this might be him trying to say 'go back home and properly rejoin society' ... Actually, that sounds more like my parents ..."
“It’s not like I know Ye Qiu well, but if I was him, and I had a brother like you-"
"What's wrong with having a brother like me?"
"-I’d want to very, very subtly show that I care. I'm guessing that sometimes you make it hard for him to openly show that he does, so he can only give you something practical and not say a word, pretending to be all nonchalant. And by nonchalant, I mean that he's probably anxiously waiting for you to say something."
"Are you sure you don't know him?" Ye Xiu asks, looking somewhat chastised as he turns on the phone.
"Eh, not that well, but you two do have the same genes. There are a lot of similarities despite all the differences. If you hate having a phone that much, just sell it online. That model is expensive right now, so you can probably get a year's worth of cigarettes."
“Come on, even I have my standards. I'm not going to sell my little brother's birthday gift - which I am still very suspicious about - just to buy cigarettes. I have no problems with being a shameless bastard, but I won't be a trashy one."
"Oh, your standards are a little bit higher than I thought. I guess I can consider you a decent human being now."
“Is it just me, or are you becoming more savage each year?"
Su Mucheng shrugs unrepentantly. “I learned from the best.”
"Not bad. You should see how well you can keep up your trash talking while controlling Dancing Rain in our next match. I want to see how effective it will be as a tactic since everyone keeps getting surprised when they see those words coming from you."
"That'd be fun!" Su Mucheng agrees cheerfully before she remembers something. "By the way, what did you end up getting Ye Qiu?"
"Oh, a candle with some scent called 'Home at Last'. Thoughtful, right?"
"Mm ..." She supposes it can be considered thoughtful to give someone their own incense to light ...
There are only three contacts in the phone: 'most benevolent brother', 'Mother', and 'Father'.
Ye Xiu takes one look at the contact list and nearly dismantles the phone, but Su Mucheng manages to dissuade him by adding her phone number, the numbers of all the Excellent Era members, and all the other pro player’s numbers, so it doesn't look like the most ominous family monitoring device to ever exist.
It's a bit funny to witness the unflappable Ye Xiu being so cautious, but she can't blame him. She has only seen his family from afar once, and once was enough to convince her that even though they likely won't try another round of reformation since he's no longer a kid they can wrangle into being their perfect son, it's better not to underestimate anyone capable of talking circles around Ye Xiu and putting him into a despondent mood for days on end.
After a few days of warily eyeing the phone on his desk, Ye Xiu is finally convinced that Ye Qiu is as good as his word because no random house calls have come. To commemorate this moment, Su Mucheng gets him a vintage wooden phone case as a finishing touch and convinces Ye Xiu to try out his new phone by taking pictures around Excellent Era.
“I live here.”
“Things look different through a camera. I want to see what kind of pictures you would take.”
She watches everything unfold from the second floor, hiding around the corner so no one can see her. When she sees the absolutely stupefied and gobsmacked faces of the team and employees once they spot Ye Xiu walking around, casually taking pictures, Su Mucheng wheezes with pain from holding in her laughter.
“What am I seeing?” one of the employees whispers, grabbing onto the shoulder of his fellow comrade in horror and shock.
“A man ...” the comrade replies intelligently. "Who looks like Ye Qiu, walking around with a phone he says he doesn't have. Taking pictures he says he doesn't take."
“Oh, you two, stand still for a moment. The lighting is good here,” Ye Xiu says when he spots them. He casually takes a picture of them before walking off to enter the lounge with a small, amused smirk on his face.
It seems like she's not the only one having fun today.
Su Mucheng giggles as the two employees stand like a stop-motion scene in the middle of the lobby, taking turns blinking. The gossip mills will be running before the end of the day, but sometimes it's better to let people fill in the blanks and reason out their own stories.
When Ye Xiu’s actual birthday arrives, Su Mucheng needles Ye Xiu until he grudgingly agrees to go out and celebrate. Of course, once the team finds out, they invite themselves along, having intended to surprise Ye Xiu for his birthday anyway.
Su Mucheng uses this opportunity to make another major post. Major, because it’ll be the first time Ye Xiu posts on his own account.
“Why? There’s no point.” Ye Xiu immediately shoots down her idea.
“It’s your birthday!”
“It’s just my birthday. Everyone has one every year. There's no need to blast it on social media."
"You only turn 24 once in your life time."
At this, Ye Xiu turns to look Su Mucheng in the eye as he removes the cigarette from his lips, blows it out, and lights it again. With a placid smile, he returns the cigarette to his lips as he calmly states, "There. I've completed my moment of celebration. Now, I can move on with my life.”
Man, when Ye Xiu doesn't want to do something ...
Su Mucheng rolls her eyes up to the sky, praying for patience. The dry air emanating from those words nearly sucks the life out of her, but she still valiantly exclaims, “This is the peak of your career. It needs to be commemorated!”
“It really doesn’t.”
"Oh. I get it now...Are you feeling your age? Should I not have called this the peak of your career? Maybe the quarter-prime of your career?"
"Are you kidding me? I can still go on for another 10 years if I wanted to. Every year is the prime of my career."
“Then, I don't see what the problem is. If you don’t, I will make a post myself, and it will be cheesy, flowery, disgustingly cute, and I will absolutely choose a flattering, mysterious picture of you. One that will make fans work extra hard in our next match to try finding you before you leave.”
Ye Xiu turns to give her the most betrayed look she has ever seen. “I don’t get why you’re making such a big deal out of this,” he says, grudgingly pulling out his phone.
"Think about it like a bonding activity. Everyone in the team would be touched if you showed how much you appreciated tonight's celebration. It'll be a huge motivation before the championships. Isn't it also natural to want to share happy moments with others and have something to look back on? I guarantee 10 years from now you'll look back on this moment and laugh."
"Hm," he replies noncommittally, unconvinced and entire demeanor radiating indifference. She stifles a snicker as she hovers beside his arm, watching him look through his pictures. She can totally tell from his eyes that he is happy and amused on the inside.
Surprisingly, the quality of his pictures isn't bad for someone who hasn't consistently used a phone since he was a teenager. He has no talent as a photographer or a social media influencer, but the contents of the pictures are nicely centered without a hint of blurriness. Then again, Ye Xiu does have steady hands and observant eyes, so maybe it shouldn't be so surprising.
“What was my password again?” Ye Xiu furrows his eyebrows, sorting through his memories. Before he can recall it, Su Mucheng snatches the phone out of his hands, not wanting him to see how active his profile has become just yet.
The two move to the edge of the sidewalk to avoid creating a traffic jam. Opening the new post section, she watches Ye Xiu format his post and carefully studies his word choice and tone. What he types isn't too different from what she would have typed. With great pride, the only difference she notices is that he is less wordy and more direct, something she takes note of for future reference.
Ye Qiu V
29-05 2021 19:12
Not convinced this is something I need to post about, but Mucheng tells me it’s important. Thank you, everyone.
[a delicious spread of sumptuous dishes is nicely arranged around the table; the entire team poses with excited or silly smiles on their faces, except for a blob in the center.jpg]
[Excellent Era cake.jpg]
[team photo with Ye Xiu’s figure blurred out; the candles are lit, in front of Ye Xiu is a specially designed Excellent Era themed birthday cake.jpg]
[a blob has moved forward in the photo slightly; the candles are blown out.jpg]
[random stack of presents that some team members haphazardly bought on the way to the restaurant.jpg]
[Su Mucheng posing for the camera with a blob in the background working hard to avoid everyone's attempts at hugs, back slaps, and hair ruffles.jpg]
#birthday #ExcellentEra #EE #YeQiu #YQ
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Birdbrain: this is the first undisguised picture we have of God Ye even though he's blurred out
Errant king: put that in in the archives. we've got a good collection forming. one day, it will mean something. we just have to work hard to compile everything for the future
mask: he's still the most beautiful blob i've ever seen. i can almost imagine that there is a person behind that. almost
Sen: guys, i have a theory. what if that is Ye Qiu, but he looks like that because he's not entirely human, like an immortal or a spirit, and this is EE's most well kept secret? they just want us to think he's blurred out and that's why he's never appeared on camera without being covered up. the camera literally cannot capture his final form
Reylo: get this cursed comment away from me. at least not on his birthday
Hua Mei: not on his birthday
Wu Xuefeng V: Happy Birthday, Xiao Ye :)
Guo Mingyu V: you’re still such a stubborn **** (happy birthday)
Lin Jie V: I can’t believe you still haven’t retired yet (happy birthday!!)
Wei Chen V: **** **** i swear you're still grinding away at my stamina after all these years (go age a year you ****)
Zhang Jian V: why have you all created a line of grandpas like old men who don't have anything better to do with their lives?? (happy birthday!!)
Fang Shijing V: because we all have lives, we can pretend not to have one when we want to. unlike you (Happy Birthday!)
Wei Chen V: **** if you came here to fight, I, your **** grandfather, can still beat your **** even with my thumbs taped down
Wu Xuefeng V: guys, please .....................
Our Era: i watched this from beginning to end before i dared to post. their hand speed is still faster than mine and Wu Xuefeng has apparently been done with everyone since the beginning of the Alliance. i also realized just now that Blue Rain always has someone in their roster who is down to fight at any time
Baby brain: i'm crying of laughter. i love how they still remembered to wish Ye Qiu a happy birthday even while insulting everyone and each other. i miss seeing all these OG players sometimes. matches back then were so different
Xia Ming V: happy birthday, captain! (i still say we should have ordered a cigarette-shaped cake even thought we aren't allowed to)
Xu Zhen V: i’m so happy to see that he’s finally comfortable enough around us to stop hiding behind his Weibo posts
Trifles: wait what?
Whip water: someone from Excellent Era, explain to us what this means
Qin Tianran V: way to out him
Jiang Bai V: way to out him more
He Ming V: why are you all like this???
Lin Jingyan V: Happy birthday!
Fang Rui V: Happy birthday, you shameless ****
howling winds: just this once, this Wind Howl fan will send an enemy good thoughts and well wishes because our family's Lin Jingyan and Fang Rui are willing to do so!
fight-o: yes, just this once for Wind Howl's criminal duo (happy birthday, Ye Qiu!)
Yu Wenzhou V: Happy birthday, Senior Ye. Please reply to your messages.
KI142: RIP, Blue Rain’s captain has been left on #read (lights incense)
PKx3: lights incense +2
Qwerty: lights incense +3
Huang Shaotian: Stop lighting incense!! It's not time for mourning!! But even if it's your birthday ... how can you leave us here on standby like some kind of side-quest NPC!!?? Where the **** are you and Mucheng?? Do you think my time is so cheap that I can wait for however long you want?? **** the moment you get here, I demand a PKPKPKPKPKPK!! I don't care if it's real life PK!!!!!
Fauna: *RIP, Blue Rain has been left on #read
Su Mucheng V: oh, sorry, i forgot. Ye Qiu has no idea we were supposed to meet up. call me :) @Huang_Shaotian
Viker: **RIP, Blue Rain has been left for #dead
Huang Shaotian: @Su_Mucheng ^&*@&*&)_@!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wang Jiexi V: Happy birthday, Ye Qiu. If you happen to have time after the championships, I’ll treat you to a meal
Duck fists: why is it that we never manage to catch an picture of God Ye, even when he’s out with his buddies?
Thinktank: because they're also disguised
Rickrolled: and there are pictures of him. he's just covered from head to toe in a hat, face mask, sunglasses, and heavy coat. Sometimes, all in black.
Edgeshot: why does this sound like a description of a thug
EEeeEE: ask anyone in the Alliance and I bet you everyone will agree that God Ye is a thug to them #ShamelessYe
YQ#1: don't be so disrespectful! our family's God Ye should never be associated with such words!!! (but okay, i agree with you just a little #ShamelessYe)
Yanyes: never forget the infamous line of Season 3
Han Wenqing V: Happy birthday.
Tyrano1: Our god is a great man who will even politely wish his rival a happy birthday
EEno1: Our god is a great man who can make his rival wish him a happy birthday
Let me live: do we have to have a fight between EE and Tyranny every single time Ye Qiu and Han Wenqing appear in the same post? Please, let me live
Manly spirit: what are you talking about? This is how EE and Tyranny fans live. it's like our version of peace and harmony
Zhang Xinjie V: Happy birthday, Senior Ye. Remember not to sleep too late.
Praying hands: peace and harmony is only complete when Immovable Rock personally comes to settle the war
Zhou Zekai V: happy
Jiang Botao V: birthday
Samsarang: best tag team ever in social media lol
Eternity awaits: i love seeing any of their interactions honestly. Samsara is the best team, but they got even better after Jiang Botao transferred. the wavelength they all communicate on is something special. sometimes they don't even have to say a word
King's crown: because today is our God Ye's special day, i won't argue, but i'd also like to say that few teams are as in sync with each other as Excellent Era!!
Su Mucheng V: Happy Birthday! ヽ(✿ﾟ▽ﾟ)ノ
Goddess SMC <3: Goddess Su is always so cute =w= she totally deserves to be the #1 beauty of the Glory Alliance [heart clench.jpg]
Chen Guo V: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GOD YE! (hey don't forget that she's a skilled player and the #1 launcher, too!)
Ye the Et: let them just get together already </3
Attend ant: maybe they're secretly dating
Drunken uncle: at this point, God Ye is together with everyone and no one in the Glory Alliance if lofter has anything to say about it
Chu Yunxiu V: Happy Birthday, Senior! (I've never seen truer words)
Hesh: Goddess!! (wait what does that mean?)
LOL: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
What few people know is that Ye Xiu has a tendency to tease or insult something he's fond of.
The more important someone or something is to him, the more he conceals and deflects, carefully maintaining a certain level of distance. If pro players knew that regardless of what Ye Xiu says or how he acts, he most likely doesn't have any enmity towards them and might even be vaguely fond of them, they might die of disbelief.
The only time when anyone should fear Ye Xiu's anger or hatred is when he closes himself off and becomes dead silent. So, his black heart isn't nearly as black as others would like to think, a fact that Su Mucheng aims to prove today.
If there is one thing that Su Mucheng knows Ye Xiu will never openly acknowledge, it's the fact that he has a soft spot for dogs.
A very huge soft spot for dogs.
He had told her once about a stupid family dog named Little Dot back home, a dog so clumsy that it can't be trusted to walk around the house unless supervised. Even then, it was best just to carry him from place to place unless you wanted to explain what happened to the antique family vase, but he talked about the dog with such fondness that sometimes Su Mucheng wonders if Ye Xiu misses his dog more than the rest of his family.
Pairing Ye Xiu and a dog has been on Su Mucheng's posting agenda ever since she realized that Ye Xiu isn't anywhere close to being considered the "nation's sweetheart". He is more at the "helpful next door neighbor" level in the eyes of the public. So, to get to the next level, which she calls "potential boyfriend material", she drags Ye Xiu off to get some exercise and daylight. When she sees a fluffy dog on the sidewalk, just lounging in the sun - a cute dog with floppy ears, wagging tail, and lolling tongue - she knows it has to be this one.
"Look! Isn't is so cute?" Su Mucheng points it out as they near it.
"Hm? Not really, it looks a bit stupid." Ye Xiu barely gives it a glance, but after a few seconds, his eyes surreptitiously trail back.
Is this what you call gap moe?
Su Mucheng's lips twitches in suppressed amusement as she zooms over to the dog. She doesn't see the owner, but it is most likely the dog of whichever family owns the restaurant its lying in front of.
"You can just pet the dog if you want," an old man sitting at a nearby table says when she sees Su Mucheng hovering around.
"Is it okay?'
"Yeah, Little Chow Chow is just my friend's lazy dog. All he likes to do is lay there, lounge in the sun, get fed, and get pet. Really a lazy dog, ah."
Su Mucheng crouches down to pat the dog on the head. It's eyes squint shut into a happy smile. "Ye Xiu, come over!" Su Mucheng calls, biting her lip to prevent herself from laughing as she watches Ye Xiu hover back and forth between staying away or coming over.
"No need," Ye Xiu finally answers. "Hurry up, we don't have all day. I still need to stop by the post office before it closes."
"It has soft, squishy cheeks," Su Mucheng carelessly adds on, rubbing the dog's cheeks. She can practically feel the evil eye that Ye Xiu is sending her.
The old man looks back in forth between the two and laughs loudly. "If you're scared of him biting you, don't worry. He can barely chew his bones, so the worse he can do is lick you silly."
Ye Xiu makes a sour expression as if he has just lost some kind of battle to Su Mucheng before he finally walks over.
Ahem. Su Mucheng hides her cough as she turns to the side. If she teases him too much she might be subject to some kind of revenge from him later, which can be anything from switching out her favorite oolong tea with peppermint or having her practice her least favorite drill for an entire day. Best not risk it.
"What are you doing?" Ye Xiu questions suspiciously as he crouches a foot away though his eyes keep straying towards the dog in Su Mucheng's arms.
Su Mucheng smiles widely. "Nothing. I just wanted to play with dogs today. Here, why don't you play with him?”
Before Ye Xiu can protest, Su Mucheng picks up the medium-sized dog and holds it up to Ye Xiu's face. She doesn't know what kind of face Ye Xiu is making, but she can hear a few people laughing lightly nearby. Just when her arms are starting to feeling the burn, the dog whimpers, and she can see the moment where Ye Xiu just goes 'my nonexistent heart' and holds his hands out for the dog.
Little Chow Chow obviously plays favorites and Ye Xiu has to lean away to avoid getting a face full of slobber. They make such a cute scene that Su Mucheng wants to squeal or gag in disgust, but she came out here with a mission in mind. Stealthily pulling out her phone, she snaps a quick picture before Ye Xiu can notice.
The old man watching his friend's restaurant looks blankly at Su Mucheng, who continues to smile strangely at Ye Xiu and Little Chow Chow without moving. Then, he turns to look at Ye Xiu and is distinctly reminded of his grandson, a mature child who works hard to conceal his happiness and excitement with nonchalance and indifference every time he has fun. The old man shakes his head and returns to his meal.
I can no longer understand young people. Who knows what's going on through their minds these days.
Later that night, Su Mucheng rubs her chin in thought as she debates whether or not she should post on her Weibo account or Ye Xiu's account. It would look more natural to post on hers, but the effect would be stronger if 'Ye Qiu' is the one that posts. She only spends a few more seconds deliberating before she decides to go for the maximum effect.
What a shame that she has to crop out his face though. She is certain that approval ratings would soar through the roofs.
Ye Qiu V
12-10, 2021 15:42
Dogs are the only creatures stupid enough to like humans, but that just means they're too pure for this world.
Photo credit: @Su_Mucheng
[a close-up profile view of Little Chow Chow, whose eyes are scrunched shut smiling, tongue lolling as Ye Xiu rubs his face with both hands; though most of Ye Xiu is cropped out, a hint of his smile can still be seen.jpg]
Forward 1,432,373 Comments 1,703,431 Like 1,928,326
#YeQiu #YQ #SMC #SuMucheng #dogs #too pure for this world
Wrecking ball: i’m going to be the first to say it. this is the best ever documented picture of the extremely rare, elusive species named Ye Qiu, otherwise known to us mortals as God Ye. for the first time ever, we are also not seeing him as some blurred out humanoid shape or daylight thief
Hands clasped in prayer: okay, but can I be the first to say … i’ve never seen a man with such beautiful hands??? (Loudly Crying Face ) my self-esteem just went to the negatives, but i'm happy that they're in the negatives. what has God Ye done to me ah
Moonlit waves: can we petition our god to become a hand model? I’m asking for research purposes
Yuni: good luck with getting him to accept any sponsorships but i would also like to know for research purposes
Roc7: this is a start. i don't care if he takes as long as a turtle pulling its head out of its shell. we have gone 6 years without seeing his face to seeing his slime form and cropped form in just a few months. be patient, the day will come when we will see his true form
Lily dust: i remember the days when there were debates questioning Ye Qiu's existence. oh man, how far we have come
Han Wenqing V: cute
Tyrannosaurus: um, is it rude to say I had no idea he knew the meaning of the word?
Elephant in the room: what is he calling cute?
Unspoken Rule: the dog obviously
Eldritch: i feel like history just been made today but i don’t know what kind
Illuminum: i’m going to be the one to say it #HanYe
MightofTyranny: they're just **** rivals!!! Stop making their relationship into something it's not!!!
Centaur: bro, i'm surprised you've still even got the energy. i've learned it's best to just let shippers roam wherever they want and just blindly smile like a junzi :)
Zhou Zekai V: cute
Jiang Botao V: that’s not what he means
Ginan: is this #ZhouYe? [modified_butterfly_hand_meme.jpg]
Yoking me along: what doesn’t he mean?
Hawkeye: what does this entire post mean?
Shotless: that God Ye and dogs are too good for this world, too pure
Enraged: i would like to add to the #TheYeConspiracy thread that this is the true reason he doesn't appear in public
Era of the Era: God Ye is literally making me think of that "get you a man who can do both" meme and as a man ... i somehow feel enlightened
Wang Jiexi V: cute
Renshen: i can finally tell we're all getting trolled
Li Xuan V: cute
Koriander: yep. sometimes I forget that they're all good buddies who like shitting on each other and aren't mortal enemies
Lin Jingyan V: cute
Samset: they sure do move fast though omg. look at their hand speeds in action!
Fang Rui V: cute
Wind form: i'm crying. this post has probably made history with how many ships there are being tagged throughout the comments. the first time in my life i've ever considered that #AllYe exists
Liu Xiaobie V: @Huang_Shaotian i thought this dog was your relative at first until i realized that comparing you to a dog would be an insult to them
Yu Feng V: omg shots have been fired in so many directions, or should i say blades crossed?
Deng Fusheng V: Liu Xiaobie why
Zheng Xuan V: Our Huang Shao is currently not allowed at the keyboards
Xu Jungxi V: if Huang Shao has any last words to say, his two middle fingers would be the last thing you see when you lower him to the ground one last time. i think that's what he's trying to say to me
Chu Yunxiu V: what has this poor dog done to be compared to the likes of Huang Shaotian. you've cursed it's future children
Zhou Yebai V: talk about shooting a man down before he can even get at his keyboard
Li Xun V: ah, i can already hear PKPKPK screeching through my ears and you guys would have asked for it too
lumos: have they forgotten they aren't in a group chat or is this how they chat regardless of where they are? this entire post is filled with crazy comments
saiyan: my friend, you obviously haven't been following Glory for that long if that's the question you ask. Glory is the best eSports because this is how our idols are at all times. not only are they **** good gamers, we always get to interact with them like this too. it's like being able to approach gods coming down from the heavens
Xiao Shiqin V: somehow i feel like i should apologize ... but it's not a lie
Meika: OMG THAT IS MY FAMILY DOG [Little Chow Chow.jpg] HOW DID I MISS SU MUCHENG AND YE QIU STOPPING BY AH
Fung way: your dog has been blessed by God Ye. he is now a national treasure. please also let me touch your dog so I may do well on my exams.
Tiger Roar: +1
Ying: + my phone #
It is an instant hit.
(She isn’t prepared for the sudden uptick of thirsty fans and shippers, but it’s not like Ye Xiu has to ever meet them. So, it should be fine ... right?)
Desert Dust: did you post something today?
One Autumn Leaf: i have no idea how you know, but i did post the mail today. why?
Desert Dust: i see, that’s how it is
One Autumn Leaf: what is how it is
Desert Dust: modern language and grammar is lost on you
One Autumn Leaf: i don't need it since you understood me either way lol
Desert Dust: to answer your question
Desert Dust: let’s just say i wasn't sure if it was you i saw posting mail
One Autumn Leaf: ...
One Autumn Leaf: i advise you not to go with the creepy and mysterious vibe, especially with your looks
One Autumn Leaf: i just felt chills down my spine
One Autumn Leaf: next time just say hi like a normal person
One Autumn Leaf: actually don't people might think you're trying to rob some poor person
One Autumn Leaf: what were you even doing in the area anyway?
Desert Dust: not important
One Autumn Leaf: really...
Desert Dust: for now, yes
One Autumn Leaf: if you're trying to throw me off before our next match, i can tell you it's not working
One Autumn Leaf: although i'm impressed to see that even an old man like you can learn new tricks
Desert Dust: That's too bad, you should pay more attention to things outside of the game
One Autumn Leaf: thank you for the advice, i will put it with all your other recyclable quotes
It has been a long time since Su Mucheng has truly talked to Boss Tao. Still, she has seen him enough times around the headquarters that she can see the perplexed, considering look in Tao Xuan's eyes whenever he sees Ye Xiu.
Because she is Excellent Era's most profitable member, she is present at almost every meeting involving investors or sponsors. She almost feels sympathetic towards Tao Xuan each time one of them asks if 'Ye Qiu' has changed his mind, but she has a very clear understanding of Excellent Era's funds. They are most definitely not lacking in money now, and can even be considered to be on par with majorly sponsored powerhouse teams like Samsara or Blue Rain.
She sees the twist in Tao Xuan's smile, the flinty, unreadable look in his eyes every time he has to reply, "I apologize for having to be the one to say this, but Ye Qiu still respectfully declines to partake in such activities."
That last time she remembers an employee mentioning that Tao Xuan has tried once more to convince Ye Xiu to move on with the times was some time back in Season 6. The fact that he has stopped talking to Ye Xiu, but is still in obvious turmoil over matters relating to Ye Xiu, unsettles her. She cannot tell if Tao Xuan is heading towards a clean or broken resolution and management will head towards whatever end Tao Xuan chooses.
Even though she has a clear understanding of how business is run in the Club, she still cannot understand his actions. Just how much money is enough money until you are satisfied and successful? She makes enough each year that she can no longer comprehend the meaning of that amount. Tao Xuan must make even more than her, but he still wants to exploit every possible source of income even though he has completely alienated Ye Xiu from him.
Where should the line be drawn between monetary value and intrinsic value? Shouldn't 'Ye Qiu's' inherent value be enough? Excellent Era has never been seen in a better light with all the good publicity that 'Ye Qiu' brings in. Yue Lin hasn't interfered with her posts in a long time, so whatever changes she is making must be of value. Even though no one has seen 'Ye Qiu' all these years, few purely just see him as the untouchable #1 player of the Glory Alliance anymore. Most fans have even taken to "Ye Qiu's slow reveal to modern society" as a great and fun spectacle.
Though it is not quite the vibe that Su Mucheng had been aiming for, hoping for something more elegant or majestic, Excellent Era is now known as one of the most wholesome teams in the Alliance. At some point, she probably overshot the wholesome content, but it has the odd effect of bringing in even more non-gamers and non-fans, who have taken to supporting Excellent Era and the Alliance just because they like the pure and simple content that 'Ye Qiu' posts. From what she understands, they treat him like a rare, fresh breeze in the midst of all the toxicity that have overtaken some parts of Weibo.
Even Feng Xianjun has been on better terms with Ye Xiu lately because he's keeping the Alliance alive in his own way. Their chats are no longer filled with awkwardness when Ye Xiu stops by to pay his fines for avoiding press conferences. She has no idea if Tao Xuan notices all these changes, or if he's simply refusing to see them, but if Tao Xuan ever becomes blind to the point of not even being able to see Ye Xiu anymore and decides that Ye Xiu has to go, then Su Mucheng will leave with him and take all his good publicity with her.
She has no qualms about blackening Excellent Era if it ever becomes rotten to the core.
For the first time in a while, Su Mucheng seriously considers if she should make a post.
This kind of post would truly, irreversibly change the way that anyone looks at 'Ye Qiu' ... but it is truly a crime against her own morals that Ye Xiu's beautiful singing voice would never be known otherwise. What peeves her is that the only reason why it would never be known is because everyone just assumes that Ye Xiu has a terrible voice because of his smoking habits. Has no one noticed at all how much she's curbed his habit over the past few years? It doesn't align with his current image and she's always wanted to slowly get him to stop so that he doesn't cause irreversible damage to his lungs. Getting him to go out on runs with her has been her latest project.
"No, I'm not kidding. Ye Qiu really does have a nice voice."
"Mucheng, you don't have to try to cover for him. I'm sure he wouldn't even care if the rest of us knows that he can't sing well. None of us would think any less of him. I mean, I can't sing either."
It's somehow vexing to see everyone else involved in the conversation nod.
Have they ever heard the man talk? Granted, the words coming out of his mouth is usually infuriating enough to distract them from the voice delivering the content, but still ... there used to be a time ...
"Eh? You can actually sing?"
"What's with that tone? You're offensive."
"Hey, you can't blame me for being shocked! I just can't imagine you as a singing-in-the-shower kind of guy. Wait. I've never heard you sing in the shower. You weird creature."
"It's something I used to do for fun, but my parents called it a waste of time. If I had to learn music, the only acceptable path would have been to become a violinist or pianist. The competition to become a solo pianist or first chair in an orchestra wasn't something that interested me."
"That's stupid. I don't get that. Isn't there something called operona? I heard that was a very respected career."
"Opera. I am most definitely not an opera singer."
"I have no idea what the difference is, but ... Hey! Let's hear you sing a song, then!"
"Yeah! Mucheng wants to hear too, right?"
"...I'll sing a short song then."
It is the first time in Su Mucheng's life that she has ever had someone sing for her. The soft, lilting tunes stay with her long after she has fallen asleep.
Mind filled with roiling memories, Su Mucheng clenches her fists in determination. This is an atrocity that cannot last! But it's also something she needs to ask him about, not daring to brush the matter off as something casual.
"Can I record you singing?" Su Mucheng requests, placing her arms over his chair. She watches him casually clear the obstacles on the screen. His speed is no longer as fast as before, but he still has no difficult completing the drill.
Ye Xiu tosses her a strange look. "Why?"
"It's been a long time since I've heard you sing and I think it's stupid that everyone thinks you can't sing."
"I can't sing." Ye Xiu turns back around.
"Don't is different than can't.
Su Mucheng frowns. It's probably something Ye Xiu hasn't even noticed himself. When Ye Xiu stopped singing and began speaking with a level and reserved tone of voice ... it was around the same time he became a 'mouth says yes, heart says no' person.
It's been several years since then, but moving on doesn't mean that they have erased their memories. When someone so inextricably tied to your life suddenly disappears like a cut red string, even if you are an immovable mountain with the emotional capacity of a teaspoon, even that tiny teaspoon would be shaken, and the tiny shards of memories that spill out would embed themselves into your heart. For Ye Xiu, who had been present when the accident happened, those icy shards are deeply buried and tightly woven into his psyche, subtly present in his resolve and mannerisms.
Neither of them are the same person they had been when she was 15 and Ye Xiu, 18. Neither of them are the same person they had been when she was 18 and Ye Xiu, 21. And now, at 21 and 24, Su Mucheng knows it is Ye Xiu who has changed the most over the years.
A part of it is her doing. The way that others interacted with Ye Xiu shifted the moment they read all of 'Ye Qiu's' Weibo posts. However, Ye Xiu had played the largest role in his own change. Like a clam warily feeling out of its shell, Ye Xiu has spent the past few years carefully testing the waters of the people around him - How trustworthy are they? How reliable are they? What do they want from me?
But sometimes just testing the waters isn't good enough to see how deep the pool actually is and you have to dive deeper or swim farther in. There are still many shards left to address, but most of them are ones to do with Glory, and Ye Xiu is the only one who can clear them. At the very least, Su Mucheng can bring back his voice.
She asks him again a few days later in the quiet of her room. The two of them stare at the ceiling, watching the city lights stream across like rays of passing stars.
"Can you sing me a song?"
"Is this going to make you happy?"
"It'll make the both of us happy."
"..." Ye Xiu turns quiet, contemplation and uncertainty flickering through his eyes. Tilting his head back, he can see the tip of the crescent moon through the bedroom window. "Okay ... Just something short..."
Opening his mouth, a tune flows from his lips, haltingly, slowly, softly filling the room. His voice is more mature and his vocal cords have not reached some ranges in a long time, causing some notes to rasp, but the sincerity behind his voice is just as sweet as she remembers.
She doesn't even remember to ask to record that first time, too busy reliving old memories, silent tears streaming down the sides of her face. She has no idea that her inner child has even been hurting at all until she is healed. Besides her, Ye Xiu looks as if he has touched something he shouldn't have and Su Mucheng understands that his path of healing will involve a lot more thorns.
He doesn't answer as he leaves the room.
The next ten times are a definite 'no'. One of those times, he turns around and walks straight out the club when he spots her. That moment ends up spreading weird rumors around Excellent Era about them having a lover's spat, but she can care less. And then, the 11th time she asks, after practice, Ye Xiu merely stops writing in his notebook as he considers her question.
"Is this time okay?"
He goes silent for the longest time and Su Mucheng momentarily fears that she has pissed him off when he replies, "I'll let you know later."
Su Mucheng half-expects him to run off, but she should have realized that she is silly for doing so. Ye Xiu might circle around or avoid problems for a while, but he won't run from them. That night, there is light rain caught in the throes of winter's breath. A light mist sneaks along the ground, curling around the nearby buildings and casting them into a hazy dream. The pitter-patter of rain sound like a soft cascade of applause and the illumination from the city lights sets everything aglow.
"You want to record me and post this on Weibo, why exactly?"
"So you can listen to yourself."
"Why would I want to listen to myself?"
"No, I meant, so you can listen to it whenever you feel like you're losing your voice again."
Ye Xiu opens and closes his mouth speechlessly, but Su Mucheng continues before he can respond.
"Weibo because no matter what you say, it is a crime against natural born talent that everyone thinks you'd sound like a chainsaw against glass."
"You wish. Everyone has no faith in your singing capabilities."
"...I can see you valiantly trying to say no, even though your pride has been stomped on. See? This is why we have to make a post to clear up all these unscrupulous misunderstandings! It'd be better if we can do an actual video recording, but you still want to hermit around for a while longer, so this is our next best option!"
"Who exactly would even listen to it?"
"Your countless fans ... your friends ... the nation? Weibo isn't a small chat group, you know. Take this time to entertain your fans for once!"
"I'm a professional gamer, not an entertainer."
"I know, I know," Su Mucheng waves her hand. "I'm not telling you to suddenly cater to your fans, but you are thankful for their support, so why not show it? They helped fund a lot of One Autumn Leaf and Dancing Rain's equipment, if you're looking for something that directly helps."
"..." Seeing Ye Xiu's mulish, disapproving look start to fade into semi-consideration, Su Mucheng continues her barrage of persuasion before Ye Xiu can work his way towards another refusal.
"Try thinking of it as a hobby or stress relief. You're the only person I know who doesn't have one. If you need some examples, I have plenty!" Su Mucheng claps her hand together and proceeds to list, "Shaotian runs a super popular food blog, Senior Han gyms, Wenzhou gardens, Xinjie reads, Yunxiu watches dramas, Senior Lin bakes, Zekai likes visiting the beach, Senior Wang does magic tricks ..." she continues listing random facts about everyone she can remember off the top of her head. "Of course, they do other things, but what's important is that they do something besides playing Glory, and they all post about their hobbies in some way."
"Are you a stalker? Or maybe everyone's secret number one fan?" Ye Xiu questions dubiously, shifting closer to the door. "You're basically the most dangerous person to everyone in the Alliance with all the information you know."
"That's rude. It's called paying attention to everyone's lives and interests and I don't need this kind of leverage to be dangerous."
Su Mucheng pauses, tilting her head to better look into Ye Xiu's unreadable eyes and says, "Also ... it's not wrong to take a break. An actual break where you're not using the time to plan for the future. You don't always have to be climbing to reach the peak, right? Even climbers also take the time to acclimate and breathe ... so ... think of this as breathing. Essential, right?"
A beat of silence, a rustle of clothes as Ye Xiu crosses his arms, leaning against one of the tables.
"One time," Ye Xiu answers reluctantly but not unwillingly.
Su Mucheng V
The singing voice of the Glory Profesional Alliance's very own black-hearted Glory textbook and master tactician -- Ye Qiu! <3
(recorded for the sole purpose of disproving everyone who thinks he would sound like a chainsaw on glass!!!!! I could not let such a criminal statement go free!!!!!)
Ye Xiu: did you start?
Su Mucheng: yep, say hi to the camera
Ye Xiu: what camera?
Su Mucheng: Kidding! Kidding, no camera, see? Anyway, we're recording, go on. You only allowed me one try
Ye Xiu: …
Su Mucheng: are you trying to reenact the sound of silence? Come on, don't leave my followers hanging
-muffled noises, a sigh-
-a lot of indiscriminate sounds, something that sounds like Su Mucheng saying, "You said yes...can't back out...locked the door..."-
Su Mucheng: okay, let's make this easier. i'll start off! ready? 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
-a beat of silence before a soft and hesitant voice fills the silence; gradually the voice picks up in volume, becoming more confident yet melancholy; the tune of Brightest Star in the Night Sky - Escape Plan becomes recognizable.mp4]
#YQ #YeQiu #collab #it took 10 years to convince him #SuMucheng #MuMu #you are all welcome #doing the work of an angel #i will die when practice starts but it was worth #one time thing #for now?
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Huang Shaotian V: ****!****!****! I don’t believe this!!! Which singer did you hire?? You must have hired a professional singer!! But wait a professional singer wouldn't sound so out of practice ... NO!! No way!! I don’t believe this!! I refuse to believe that a sound like this would leave the mouth of someone who spews trash so frequently that the garbage dumps have all backed up!!!! (Neutral Face )(Face Without Mouth ) (Neutral Face )(Face Without Mouth ) (Neutral Face )(Dizzy Face )(Dizzy Face )(Dizzy Face )
Song Xiao V: Shaotian has fled the room in disbelief to find answers. expect him to arrive in Hangzhou in a few hours, possibly on foot lol
Zheng Xuan V: how troublesome, someone bring him back @Yu_Wenzhou
Yu Feng V: no don’t bother him, he has a scary look in his eyes right now
Yu Wenzhou V: I am calculating the odds.
Xu Jingxi: V: what odds?? what are you calculating?? (horror face)
Wotcha: omg, can i call this the collective Blue Rain freak out? i'm just imagining them all losing their **** in real life while posting everything real time in the comments
Xike: i have many questions, but i don't even know where to start. can the collective Blue Rain freak out signal the beginning of Ye Qiu's biggest fan group? Also, who the **** would call his voice chainsaw on glass?? I actually feel assaulted on the behalf of chainsaws???
Asgk5: can we also take this moment to be thankful that our family's Huang Shao banned VC from matches?
Ulrich90: sadjgkl we'd all be dead (but I'd let God Ye serenade me to death)
Denon: people called his voice chainsaws on glass because it should have never been unleashed to the world
Chu Yunxiu V: MUMU WHAT ARE YOU DOING!! THINK OF THE HUMAN POPULATION!! @Su_Mucheng
Su Mucheng V: I am :) I am doing the work of an angel (◕∀◕✿)
All the Leaves: has Goddess Su blessed us or cursed us? i'm clutching my heart as tears stream down my face. even a medic can't save me now
Waifu: this just basically bumped God Ye to the top of the Glory Professional Alliance’s eligible bachelor’s list. what a power move. i'm so shook.
Zhou Zekai V: Yes.
Quincy: what kind of emotion is the Glory Professional Alliance’s current #1 eligible bachelor feeling? That was an oddly emphatic period at the end
Fang Minhua V: Relief.
Du Ming V: Freedom.
Jiang Botao V: Camaraderie.
Lu Boyuan V: Sympathy.
Zhou Zekai V: Yes ...
Sunset skies: somehow, i can feel every single emotion he is trying to express through each period. his presence is too overwhelming for me too handle
Luvantus: i'm sure that everyone on this post is mustering up their courage so that only one manly tear falls as they listen to the recording (but it all ends in vain because no one can suppress a waterfall)
Allaway: ... I'm just going to carefully leave this comment section where it feels as if everyone has collectively also gone as insane as Blue Rain
Tremolo: Goddess Su!! Please do a duet with God Ye!!
Lo-fi: omg, yes!! +!
Jack of All Trades: +2 (but can we also have a wholesome EE collab??)
Edging: wait, if everyone thought that Ye Qiu sounded like chainsaw on glass, then what does everyone sound like?
Hoho: ........ asking the real questions
SuMuMu: okay, at the very least, Goddess Su would be exempt from that. there's no way her voice would sound terrible even if she's not a natural born talent
Wunder: i never thought i'd see a day where i'd see EE be seriously considered for singing talent. what a time to be alive. someone tell me where eSports is going
Dindin: oh, if you think this is going to stop EE from making it all the way to the finals again you're so wrong. maybe they've already prepared a victory song for this season
Trex: ...i'm going to be the Tyranny fan that admits how horrifying that **** would be
Extra E: EE has always been known for their tactics lmao
He Ming V: does this mean we can start inviting captain to karaoke?
Xia Ming V: I should’ve stayed another year!!
Xu Zhen V: as i thought, captain is a man with many layers
Jiang Bai V: my god, thank goodness that was him. i kept hearing a voice singing in the middle of the night. i thought that we were being haunted
Qin Tianran V: CAPTAIN!!! HOW COULD YOU HIDE THIS FROM US??? FROM ME!!! AFTER I RETIRED!!! AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!!! DO I MEAN NOTHING TO YOU!!! [sound of betrayal.jpg]
Xia Ming V: @Liu_Hao
Liu Hao V: !!!!! [river of feels and tears.jpg]
Wang Ze V: what team did i choose to join, exactly?
He Ming V: it's okay, that was me at first too. you can question yourself all the way to the finals and it still won't have sunk in. you just learn to live with it until you accept yourself
Roland: yo, when did Excellent Era collectively transcend beyond human understanding?
Spring snow: i'm convinced that to survive in Excellent Era, you have to be removed from common sense on some level. i also thinks this is the secret to their strength. they've been nailing it each year though they haven't won a championship in a while
Excellency: this is it. This is the proof that EE is the best team!! Our god is deserving of praise and respect, so multi-talented!!! I want to list all his achievements and all of Excellent Era's achievements, but my hands are shaking too much from pride!!
Highness Reaches: uwu his voice is so calming to listen to, i can fall asleep listening to this over and over. the rain in the background is just perfect!! But the song choice... why this song specifically??? I thought I stopped crying over it when it first came out, but then God Ye brought my tears all back!!
Yolan: I beg a passerby to clean up the file!!
Fang Rui V: I, your father…! Have no words to say (I admit, you are very good. As an honest man, I cannot trash talk this)
Wu Yuce V: what’s the matter, your brain finally stopped working? (i hate to agree with you, but just this once)
Li Xuan V: My brain would like answers! Why does a shameless **** like you have such a nice voice! What's a normal man like me supposed to do??
Joki: looks like Void’s captain has truly become a ghost, someone bring him back from the void
Ererina: jokes on you, they’ve all gone to the void
He356: jokes on all of us, we've all gone to the void
Lin Jingyan V: Someone convince him to open for All-Star
Wang Chixuan V: @Han_Wenqing
Han Wenqing V: lol
Bai Yanfei V: Captain, please never lol again.
Mulu123: only God Han can make an lol look so ominous and threatening, I bow down to our family's god
Han-some: i’m crying, what does lol mean?
Treason: lol good luck trying to convince me
Wrong chain: lol good luck trying to convince Ye Qiu to reveal himself
Yanxing: lol i'm just going to sit here chilling while everyone runs around on fire
Nini: lol nothing has meaning in my life anymore if i also have to rival him in singing talent
Zhang Xinjie V: Captain Han, please elaborate @Han_Wenqing
Han Wenqing V: laughing out loud
Rotem: and thus, a cleric learns to kill a man
Ji Leng V: watch this be the prequel to Ye Qiu’s retirement plan
Sun Zheping V: retired people should retire quietly
Yang Cong V: Why are all these retired people popping up now
Lin Jie V: we retired people still like to keep up to date
Nougat: can we just take the time to appreciate that once you've been part of the GPA, you never really leave? even the pro players who’ve retired still lurk around like hovering grandpas. It’s somehow funny but also touching they still keep up with the younger generations
Wei Chen V: who the **** are you calling a hovering grandpa?? who wants to keep up with the younger generations?? I'm just here to water my crops with their suffering!!
Fang Shijing V: can’t be helped, the future generations are concerning
Fang Shiqian V: too true
Guo Mingyu V: this entire post is evidence of that
Xiao Shiqin V: not bad :)
Wang Jiexi V: you could clean up the external noise a bit more, but other than that, the recording sounds very nice and clear. good choice of background
Deng Fusheng V: why is this what you’re focusing on??
Liu Xiaobie V: nothing can faze the team captain, not even if a meteor falls out of the sky and causes all the avatars to become real. we team members must simply work to thicken our skin
Zitka: EE also gives no **** they're all up there just casually chatting after the initial freak out, like this is an absolutely normal daily occurrence (crying face)
sen: what i want to focus on is why God Ye would choose that song of all songs. Is it dedicated to someone? Or is it a request of Goddess Su? (ngl I would sing anything the Goddess requests even if I sound like a donkey doing so)
The end of the summer marks the beginning of the 7th season of the Glory Professional Alliance. It has been 3 years since Excellent Era has won the championships.
After the post, Ye Xiu minutely thaws, like a frozen stream coming back to life. The shift is subtle, but Ye Xiu has always been a magnetic force, and the entire Club is pulled along with his momentum. The tension within Excellent Era has boiled away such that only a few whisps of steam remain. Instead of Ye Xiu changing Excellent Era, or Excellent Era changing Ye Xiu, the two have met at the center, orbiting each other to create something entirely unexpected.
Ye Xiu is no longer as reserved with his emotions. His usual calm and unreadable demeanor now has an undercurrent of genuine relaxation rather than just distance. Sometimes, he'll even join the team hangouts. The members in return have become a lot less hot-tempered and impulsive, emulating the first generation Excellent Era members. They have long realized that if Ye Xiu keeps pushing them, or uses sharp words, he's chipping at them to develop them into stronger and better versions of themselves - to build a powerful and cohesive team.
And then, the day that Ye Xiu finds out about the Weibo posts comes when she least expects.