After those two had walked away, Shen Yanming and Pudding entered the nearby Ming X Premium store.
Upon entering, they were greeted by a small wall covered in hats.
Shen Yanming casually picked one up and put it on.
As he looked at himself in the mirror, he lowered his voice and asked, “Are you planning to send that video to his girlfriend? Or…?”

Pudding lightly tapped his head, “Why so impulsive? Just keep it for now.
If you really want to explain the video, you can pass it off as two good buddies fooling around.
Even though they don’t seem like the kind to hold hands and kiss each other like they do, especially not in public…”

As Pudding spoke, he pretended to reach for Shen Yanming’s hand.
Shen Yanming widened his eyes and swiftly sidestepped, saying, “What are you doing? I warn you, don’t ‘gay’ me!”

Pudding seemed rather surprised by this response, “Luan Jiang, you’ve changed.
You’re always spouting those unethical words, and now you react like this to holding hands?”

Shen Yanming found himself unable to retort.

But thinking about it, he had always been one to take advantage of others verbally.
Like back in school, when his buddies would often share a seat, sitting on each other’s laps, and playfully touching.
He would just watch from the sidelines, never really participating.
If someone casually leaned on his shoulder or hugged him every now and then, that was okay.
Anything more intimate, and felt strange to him.

He hadn’t really thought about the reason… or rather, he hadn’t realized it until Pudding brought it up.

He remembered the morning he found himself clinging to He Changkong.
His initial reaction had been one of shock and fear.

Could it be that he’s actually homophobic?

But that seemed unlikely.
He knew some gay people, and he didn’t have any opinions about them…
But a normal, educated, well-mannered straight guy shouldn’t have any particular opinions about people with different sexual orientations, right? However, if it were to happen to him personally, he would still feel uncomfortable.

Take Pudding as an example.
He’s the epitome of a stereotypical straight guy and usually acts very casually.
However, when he had mistakenly thought that Shen Yanming and He Changkong were a couple, the look on his face was as if he had just swallowed a fly.

But… that morning when he was pressed up against He Changkong, he didn’t feel disgusted or uncomfortable.
If he were to put it into words, he’d say it felt more nervous and awkward.
Plus, the lingering feeling was strong, and even now, when he’s around He Changkong, it still feels a bit unnatural.


Where did this fit in, then?”

The hat he had just tried on was too big, practically engulfing his whole face when he put it on.
e switched to another one, put it on, and casually asked, as if it were just a random thought, “Straight guys like holding hands, and gay guys like holding hands too.
So, how do we distinguish whether someone is straight or gay?”

“Straight guys hold hands just for fun! Can that be the same as holding hands when hanging out with friends? If someone holds my hand just for fun, I can hold it until the end of time.
But if he tries to hold my hand with the intention of getting all gay with me, I’ll punch him and send him flying into space.” Pudding answered earnestly but then felt that something was off, “Luan Jiang, you’ve got issues.
I find it quite disturbing that you’d ask something like this…”

Oh well, the more he thinks about it, the more absurd it becomes.
Shen Yanming picked up a denim checkered fisherman hat and put it on his head, no longer dwelling on the question of straight guys and gays, “Is this hat okay?”

Pudding waved it off, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it looks good.”

In the end, Shen Yanming bought a total of seven hats, planning to change them daily and have a new look every day.

Regular training and matches proceeded as usual.
About a third of the way into the season, TMM had more wins than losses and was currently at the top of the leaderboard.

As for the performance of the other team members, there’s not much to say.
They were all familiar faces from the league, playing well wasn’t surprising; it’s when they played poorly that it would make headlines.


The recently emerged Chaos was currently the dark horse that attracted everyone’s attention.

In matches where the strong compete against each other, the difference in skill isn’t large.
Most of the time, it’s about mentality.
Over the years, people have seen many rookies who performed exceptionally well in youth training camps or the second team, only to freeze on a bigger stage.
Hence, there were so many skeptical voices about him before Chaos officially debuted.

Normally, being a newcomer and getting criticized left and right before a match, it would be considered good if he could perform at 80% of his usual level on the actual stage.

However, this player even managed to perform at 120%, the more nervous and intense the situation, the more aggressive he became.
He truly enjoyed the arena and the stage.

Moreover, he has shown good coordination with his teammates in the subsequent matches.
There were hardly any major issues, and victory after victory was secured.

A game blogger even explicitly declared Chaos as the sure winner of this season’s Rookie King – after each regular season of Return to the Throne, the most outstanding newcomer on the field would be selected and awarded the title of Rookie King.

This blogger also predicts that TMM will secure first place in points this year and move on to the next round.

However, some say not to give praise too early, lest it turns into a jinx.
After all, the second-placed XXL was closely trailing, with a tight score gap, and TR was only one point behind XXL.
There are still many matches to go in the points race, and it’s still uncertain whose hands victory will ultimately fall into.

In this match, TMM is set to face TR, currently ranked third on the scoreboard.

The team that Moonlight was in.


Before the match, Shen Yanming sat on the couch in the lounge, lost in thought.
Suddenly, something was slipped into his hand.
He lowered his head and saw a small envelope.
Raising his head again and pushing his obstructive cap brim up, Shen Yanming saw He Changkong’s face.

Shen Yanming’s heart skipped a beat.

He wondered what this letter was about.
In the past, he remembered girls in his class exchanging letters when they had conflicts.

Lately, his relationship with He Changkong had indeed been a bit awkward, as if they were back to the time when they had just met.
But it wasn’t exactly a falling out; they had been communicating normally, and the majority of their time was still spent playing games together.

The others seemed to be chatting among themselves, paying no attention to their corner.
Shen Yanming put the letter in his pocket and said, “… I’m going out to take a look.”

He Changkong nodded, and Shen Yanming quickly slipped out.

After unfolding the letter, Shen Yanming realized he had overthought things.
He Changkong wasn’t writing some kind of reconciliatory letter like teenage girls did.

The letter read:

“Ever since your first appearance, I wanted to say something to you.
However, seeing you progress so smoothly, it seems I don’t need to worry too much.
Today’s opponent is someone you’ve had issues with before, and I’m afraid you’ll keep thinking about it, which will affect your mood.
Regardless of whether my words can provide you with any encouragement, I want to tell you that as long as you play normally, I’ll always have your back.

To put it in your own words, ‘let’s crush them together’.

Let me quote a line from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest.’ The original context might be different, but it’s quite interesting taken out of context.
‘Since it’s not my fate to die, then I must achieve something.
The past hardships are just a prelude; the future depends on you and me.’

Best wishes.


Shen Yanming folded the letter.
Since he hadn’t brought a bag with him and didn’t want to casually put it in his pocket, fearing he might forget and toss it into the washing machine later.
So, he removed his phone case and carefully placed the letter inside.

Ever since that heart-to-heart a few months ago, He Changkong hadn’t really brought up their past much.


Shen Yanming hadn’t expected He Changkong to remember.

In fact, they hadn’t been particularly close during this period.
Yet, He Changkong was worried enough about Shen Yanming’s mood due to Moonlight to write him a letter.

Shen Yanming rubbed his face.

To be honest, Shen Yanming had long let go of any lingering grudges.
At this point, he had no regrets about the punch he threw in his previous life.
Without that punch, he wouldn’t have seen through the true nature of the person he had considered a brother all along.
Although he had gone through some confusing experiences afterward, if not for that punch, he wouldn’t have ended up in TMM – like a fish finally arriving in the vast ocean where it could freely swim.

But he still detested this pair of dog-like men.

He was still determined to crush this guy’s arrogance.

He wanted to crush his opponent’s arrogance alongside Kong ge and their other teammates.

After reading the letter and adjusting his mood, Shen Yanming intended to return to the lounge.
However, he saw Zhuo Minxing suddenly appear out of nowhere.
Without another word, he turned to leave, but Zhuo Minxing called out to him, “I’ve got an accompanying staff badge this time.”

Shen Yanming was utterly puzzled.
“What’s it got to do with me? I don’t need that thing.
If you’re trying to scalp NPC badges under the pretext of having a reason to be backstage, you’ve got the wrong guy.”

“You…” Zhuo Minxing was annoyed, but he quickly regained his smile.
“Don’t get too full of yourself.
Who knows, you might lose this round?”

Fine, it seemed he was here to mess with his mentality.
However, Shen Yanming’s composure remained intact.
If a weak taunt like this could throw him off balance, then he might as well quit.

Shen Yanming rolled his eyes.
“How did you get an NPC badge?”

Zhuo Minxing thought Shen Yanming was trying the same trick again – using his “legitimate” presence as an excuse to have someone throw him out – so he adopted an air of self-satisfaction.
“I’m here as an accompanying staff member for TR.”

Shen Yanming quipped, “Oh, you’re TR’s staff.”

“Mhm,” Zhuo Mǐnxíng nodded.

Shen Yanming took out his phone.
“I just recorded that, by the way.
You, as a TR staff member, came to speak rudely to a TMM player before the match.
I wonder what would happen if I directly submit this recording to the organizing committee? How do you think TR would fare?”

In truth, Shen Yanming hadn’t bothered recording anything.
He just wanted to put this little brat in his place, as he was strutting around so proudly.

Zhuo Minxing: “…”

Shen Yanming couldn’t be bothered to engage further with him.
He pushed the door open and returned to their area.

He Changkong and Meng Yan were talking to the coach.
The two substitute kids were playing some toys at the table, causing a bit of a commotion.

Pudding leaned back on the couch, as if he was resting with his eyes closed.

Shen Yanming actually wanted to talk to someone about Kong ge writing him a letter, not for any particular reason, just wanted to show off.

But he also felt that showing off was a bit strange.

So, he suppressed this desire to show off but still had the urge to express himself.

He sat down beside Pudding, glanced in He Changkong’s direction, and pushed down the excitement of receiving the letter.
Then he casually brought up a topic, “I saw that little gay guy that was with Moonlight again just now.”

Normally, if Pudding heard such gossip, his ears would practically perk up to the sky.
Yet today, he barely reacted, only giving a polite “Hmm?”

Shen Yanming carefully observed Pudding’s face.
Normally, if he was about to play, he would put on all sorts of flashy makeup.
But today, he only had a layer of foundation – Shen Yanming wasn’t really knowledgeable about this stuff, but he learned a thing or two from spending time with Pudding.

It didn’t seem right.

But it also made sense.
Pudding had suddenly taken a day off yesterday, only rushing back by noon.
So, not having the time and energy to dress up was normal.

Shen Yanming was about to say something when a staff member from the organizing committee knocked on the door.

“Players, please get ready.
The match will start in fifteen minutes.”

Author’s Message:

Luan Jiang: Received another love letter, spicy~1spicy: used figuratively to indicate that the situation is interesting, exciting, or intriguing.

Thank you for reading! 

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day

If you like reading my translations, do consider supporting me with ko-fi

1spicy: used figuratively to indicate that the situation is interesting, exciting, or intriguing.

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