Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story

Extinguishing Noble Flame



Extinguishing Noble Flame

The volleyball match went on, with the score reaching 16-11 in favor of Fiona's team. It was a large gap in points but her opponents didn't despair. They kept on fighting their best to the bitter end.

"Alright!" Daniella secured a great opportunity to make a clean set. From this position, she had many options available to her.

"You shall give it to me!" Cornelia proclaimed as she dashed toward the net like a bull. The pompous girl insisted on spiking every single ball by herself.

Admittedly, despite the girl's self-centered attitude, it was undeniable that the team scored many of its points thanks to Cornelia's powerful spikes. Despite their dodgy aim, these spikes were actually the most reliable weapon the team had for breaking through the enemy's defense.

And so, once again, Daniella tossed the ball toward the net in Cornelia's direction. "Alright, take it!"

"But of course!" Cornelia treated this as a given. After all, it was her noble duty to personally handle every attack.

And, naturally, most of her spikes scored points for the team, as expected from a noble. The enemy blockers couldn't handle Cornelia's noble spikes even when they got into position in time!

Though, there was just one tiny little exception to the rule. At one point in the game, Karen flew into the scene out of nowhere and successfully blocked off one of Cornelia's best spikes!

It was an unbelievable incident. Daniealla's set was quite perfect there and Cornelia's form did not have any flaws either, yet the attack got stopped anyhow.

Yes, that fake "Landberht" somehow put a stop to Cornelia's powerful attack! The nerve of that commoner…!

To make things worse, Daniella scolded Cornelia harshly for the outcome, insisting that Cornelia should have played around the block instead of challenging Karen head-on. And, perhaps that was true.

To make up for that failure, Cornelia started employing her alternative spiking technique more frequently. She didn't like using it much because it was difficult, error-prone, and sometimes resembled the act of "running away" from the real challenge. 

Nonetheless, it was an effective type of spike that no opponent here had stopped thus far. Even Karen failed to block it, a fact that naturally brought a smile to Cornelia's face.

This spike was a special technique Cornelia inherited from a former senior. She poured much of her noble sweat into polishing the niche technique to its current level.

It was a technique best used sparsely, so Cornelia made sure to mix it in between her regular spikes every now and then. And, it seemed as if the time to utilize it had come once again.

As Cornelia was getting closer to the ball, she noticed that an enemy blocker had already gotten in position. And, this was no ordinary blocker. It was none other than the real Landberht scion in the flesh!

[Oh, how long have I waited for this moment!] Cornelia grinned madly. [At long last, I have earned the opportunity to challenge you directly!]

Until now, it was mostly the lowly servants who had been handling the blocking on Fiona's team. The noblewoman herself only rarely stepped onto the frontline. But, at long last, she was here!

[Try to stop me if you can!] Cornelia channeled more strength than ever into her arm. [I shall bust right through your noble defense and prove that I'm the queen of this court!]

In response, the gallant blocker jumped up to seal off Cornelia's path. Her movements were swift but refined. Fiona's defensive form left no holes. It felt impossible to penetrate that perfection via brute force alone. Most likely, even Cornelia's powerful spike won't be able to accomplish that.

Therefore, as much as Cornelia wished to hit the ball with all her might and smash through that noble-clad defense, it felt like a pipe dream. Such a brute-force approach would get shut down for sure.

Thus, Cornelia had no choice but to use "that" again. The technique had proven itself sufficiently reliable today, so it was the best option Cornelia had against the Landberht Princess.

[Behold my noble cross!] Cornelia twisted her arm sideways as she struck the ball, launching it at a sharp angle. Instead of directly confronting the wall in front of it, the ball slipped past the opponent's arms and shot toward the floor!

Such was the essence of the brilliant technique known as Cross Spike. It was an intelligent method of cutting through ironclad defense without getting blocked. And, Cornelia happened to be skilled enough to master such a sophisticated technique!

As usual, she executed the cross cleanly. The ball broke off beautifully to the right and threatened to drive straight into the floor! It was certainly going to score!

However, somebody raised an objection to that prediction.

[A cross, as expected.] Fiona predicted as much before she even jumped to block.

Indeed, a cross spike was an efficient weapon. It aspired to skip right past the blocker, which made it very difficult to defend against.

However, if used excessively, it became a trademark, which made the cross spike predictable. And, any predictable attack was stoppable.

[Alright, now!] Fiona swung her arms to the left in mid-air. She did so right when Cornelia hit the ball.

At its core, the cross spike was merely a diagonal spike. There were only two directions in which Cornelia could shoot it, but she had only mastered one of them thus far.

Therefore, it did not become a 50/50 guess, as it was clear Cornelia would shoot it to the right, which was Fiona's left. And so, Fiona confidently shifted her arms to the left in advance.

BAM. Her palms put a stop to the diagonal attack. The ball dove into the floor on the other side of the net. In a single instant, the sharp attack was turned into a counter that scored a point for Fiona's team.

Naturally, all of this came as a shock to the attacker herself. "Eh...?" Cornelia stared at the ball with a dumb face.

Why was the ball on her side of the court right now? Furthermore, why was it on the floor? Everything that just happened in mid-air was like a blur. It didn't feel real.

"H-H-How...?" Cornelia repeated in disbelief like a broken record. For a moment, she forgot how speech even worked. All she could do was repeat the same question. "How? How is this...?" 

"Your cross was very good," Fiona said. "However, a predictable attack is bound to be blocked even if it is the most splendid cross to ever exist."

"Predictable...?"

"In this match, you have always gone for a cross when there was a blocker in front of you. As such, it was only natural to assume you would do the same against me as well."

"I see..." Cornelia bit her lip in frustration. "It was a gamble on your end, was it not? I feel as if you moved your hands away in advance. So, if I just went for a straight…"

"Yes, you are correct." Fiona nodded. "If you had chosen to bust through the front door, I most likely would have failed to block. Sometimes, the simpler play is the better play."

Fiona did not possess superhuman reaction speed. Therefore, in order to be able to block that sharp cross, she had to predict it and decide on her action in advance.

"This is all part of the mind game between the blocker and the spiker," Fiona explained. "You have to take such things into account when you are spiking."

"Of course, I'm aware, but..." Cornelia scowled. Somewhere at the back of her head, she believed her cross would always triumph over any blocker as long as she executed it perfectly. But in reality, her cross was not omnipotent. It was merely another type of spike that could be stopped like any other. All it took was the right timing and skill, just as Fiona proved.

"Very well!" Cornelia thrust her finger. "In our next bout, I shall defeat you in this so-called mind game!" 

[In other words, you are obviously going to use a straight next time, are you not?] Fiona smiled meaningfully. "There is another piece of advice I would like to give you if you do not mind."

"Of course, I shall listen. It is the noble thing to do."

"This has become a typical problem in your case, but I would like to bring it up again nonetheless," Fiona said. "You are clearly overexerting yourself by handling your team's entire offense."

"It cannot be helped." Cornelia puffed her chest. "I'm the one and only noble on this team, after all. It's only natural that the responsibility of scoring points would fall on me."

"That is not how this game works," Fiona said. "There are six of you on the court, so you must split the workload. Instead, you chase the ball on every occasion, both on offense and on defense. You will not last long like this."

"I appreciate the concern, but trivial matters like this won't affect a noble such as myself, ohoho!" 

"If you say so." Fiona sighed. No matter how much she was to lecture Cornelia on this topic, some players had to be burnt a few times in order to learn to not play with fire. As such, Cornelia would surely not digest any further advice on this topic until she collapsed on the floor from exhaustion.

[I recall that happened in the previous mock match we had a long time ago.] Fiona sighed. [I can only pray that Cornelia has learned her lesson since then.]

And so, the game continued. The score soon turned to 19-13. No matter how hard Daniella tried to boost the team's morale, it was clear to everybody that this was a hopeless game.

Her team avoided the worst-case scenario of falling into total despair, but it nonetheless struggled to make a comeback. But that was a given, for Fiona was not a one-trick pony who only knew how to serve.

BAM. The team's libero successfully bumped the ball into the air with her receive, but it didn't fly very high. As such, there was no time for the team's setter to prepare an effective counterattack.

However, that did not mean this counterattack opportunity should be wasted. On the contrary, it was best to strike hard while the enemy was under a false sense of security. And so, Fiona decided to take matters into her own two hands.

"Karen, a quick!" Fiona instructed as she moved toward the low ball.

"Okay, gotcha, sis!" Karen dashed toward the net before the enemy setter even got to the ball. That's how much she trusted her older sister.

And, that trust was well-founded. Fiona got to the ball within moments and converted the low ball into a swift toss. 

"Eat this!" BAM! Karen struck the ball with all her strength!

There was one enemy blocker in the vicinity, but the poor girl missed the chance to even begin her jump. For the enemy team, this quick came completely outta left field so none of them were ready for this smoke.

And so, the ball flew straight into the floor uncontested. Nobody was fast enough to respond to it, not even Daniella.

"Hell yeah!" Karen pumped a fist.

"Good job, Karen," Fiona praised as she patted her sister.

"Hehe, praise me more~"

Of course, on the other side of the net, everybody's expressions were the complete opposite of this happy-go-lucky attitude.

"Seriously…?" Daniella made a face as she stared at the rolling ball. [That quick was practically unstoppable. Can Fiona seriously do anything or what?]

When it came to serves, Fiona established herself as the creme de la creme, no contest. She was most likely the best in the region at this point. In fact, it would be hella scary if she WASN'T.

But, this prodigy packed way more than just incredible serves. Her blocking, receiving, spiking, and even setting - everything was top-notch. She was like a one-man army who could do literally anything out there.

Though unlike with her demonic serves, in everything else, Fiona didn't feel "unstoppable" per se. Her receiving was great, but not as good as the team's main libero. Likewise, her setting was superb but not as robust as Daniella's.

Nonetheless, she was always a strong contender for being the 2nd or 3rd best in each category. It was mind-boggling just how versatile the girl was.

[She's just one player, but her presence alone makes it feel like there's a huge skill gap between the two teams even though the coach worked hard to balance them.] Daniella sighed. [Honestly, I doubt we've got any chance at this point. But, I got to act the captain part and keep everybody motivated...]

Fiona and Karen's quick fazed everybody on the court. It was a high-level technique that was uncommon in girls' volleyball, especially in junior high leagues.

"Alright, alright!" Daniella clapped. "No time to be fazed by that quick! It's not something they're going to throw at us regularly, so focus on the next play!"

Everybody nodded and shifted gears. They seemed focused enough on the match but it was hard to call them "motivated" at this point. And, who could blame them?

Between Fiona's demonic serves, her unbreakable wall of defense, her quick, and her high spikes - just Fiona's presence alone made this game look unwinnable. And, there was also Karen who played in a rowdy and aggressive manner that was difficult for most girls to deal with.

So yeah, it wasn't surprising that all the girls lost hearts at this point. Even Daniella struggled to maintain positivity. This is what it meant to go up against a prodigy who was head and shoulder above the rest.

For the rest of the match, Daniella's team did what it could to save face. They tried to not make the game too easy for the enemy, but they were slowly but surely driven to a corner. To make things worse, their top scorer started showing signs of breaking down.

"H-Hand it over to me!" Cornelia yelled from across the court with her arm raised. Her cheeks were flushed and her breath ragged, yet she ignored all that and asked for more spikes.

[Can she really handle another spike right now?] Daniella wondered. [I've been really working her to the bone this game, even Fiona warned us about it. But, what else can I do? She's the best option for securing points. Besides, she keeps nagging me about it every time...]

"I-I shall score it! Like a noble!" Cornelia continued shouting as she approached the net. From her wobbly running form, it was clear she barely had any juice left. The girl was pretty much running on sheer willpower here.

[But, she won't agree to sub out, not until she collapses.] Daniella sighed. [So, I guess I'll just keep giving her the ball until she's satisfied. We're done for, anyway.]

Thus, she set the ball for Cornelia once again. And, to make sure Cornelia won't have to jump too hard, this ball was a little lower than the ideal height for Cornelia's strongest spikes.

[I hope she can at least hit it.] Daniella thought. [I've been gradually lowering the height based on her condition, but she's looking worse to wear at this point.]

Despite that, Cornelia acted as if she was totally fine as dashed toward the ball with all her remaining strength. Where was she even drawing all that excess energy from?

"Ah… Hah..." Cornelia felt heavy breaths escaping her mouth. How unsightly. A noble such as herself shouldn't pant like a dog, especially not in public like this.

Therefore, she shut her mouth and swallowed the signs of fatigue trying to pour out of it. Clearly, her body was just throwing a fit like a little child, that's all. Surely, Cornelia still had plenty of energy to spare. There was absolutely no reason for her to take any breaks right now.

[We must catch up. I have to score this…!] She dashed toward the net with that determination!

Frankly, her legs were like lead at this point. It almost felt as if her entire body was working against her, trying to sabotage her ability to play out the rest of the game.

[But, this is all nonsense…!] Cornelia insisted. She ignored all the alarms ringing in her body and jumped toward the ball as usual.

Fortunately, this toss wasn't too high. It felt like Daniella had been getting sloppy recently, as many of her sets were lower than usual. But oddly enough Cornelia didn't feel like complaining. In fact, she was almost glad that the ball was easier to reach than usual, even though she definitely didn't want to admit that.

"I... I shall score!" Cornelia swung her arm.

"Not under my watch!" Karen jumped into view in order to block. "Go take a rest already, you zombie!" 

"Z-Zombie? Nonsense!" Cornelia scoffed. "A zombie cannot produce a powerful spike like…. like this...…."

The world turned blurry just as Cornelia was about to hit the ball. She channeled all the strength she could muster, yet her arm went limp right before striking the ball.

[I-I refuse! I must hit it!] Cornelia urged her own body to cooperate. [Be the obedient servant you're supposed to be and hit this darn ball!]

Miraculously, Fiona's hand managed to make contact with the ball. However, her hit lacked strength. Instead of trying to bust through Karen's block with noble force, the ball jumped lightly into the air. It was an embarrassing spike, but…

"Geh, seriously!?" Karen exclaimed as the ball slowly flew over her block. "A feint here, of all times!? Grrrrr!" 

Alas, no matter how much Karen growled at the ball, her stretched fingertips failed to touch it. The feint flew over her head and landed on the floor before anybody could get it.

In a turn of events that could only be described as a miracle, Cornelia scored this point from beyond the grave. The persistence of this girl was really something else. Heck, it was almost admirable.

0

"D-Did you see that?" Cornelia smiled weirdly. Her eyes were unfocused and she swayed from side to side. "I-I won... behold the absolute nobility... of the von Galen... geh." Her batteries died out without warning. She buckled over and fell down.

"Whoa!" Karen slid underneath the net and caught the collapsing girl moments before disaster. "You dang dumbface! This is what happens when you push yourself too far. Just go take a rest already. You're spent as hell."

"I... I can still play..."

"Yeah sure, and I can fly and shoot lasers. Just give it a rest already."

"I... I shall not yield... not to the Landberhts..." 

"Damn. Bitch is half dead and she still has the energy to roleplay this shit." Karen shook her head. "Anyway, Dani. This thing over here has run out of batteries, so I'm tossing it to your bench, okay?"

"Yes, please," Daniella responded. "That fall was dangerous so thanks for catching her. "

"Meh. I was already there, so might as well."

Karen directed the barely standing Cornelia toward the bench. The idiot kept rambling about how she "could keep playing" and other such nonsense, but Karen ignored all of it and dragged the half-dead creature away.

"Now be a good girl and sit here." Karen dropped off the luggage and left.

For a moment there, it seemed as if Cornelia would force herself on her feet and return to the court. In fact, she clearly tried to achieve just that via sheer willpower.

"A-Ah!" Cornelia tripped and fell back on the bench as soon as she tried to stand up. After a few more attempts that all ended in failure, she gave up and leaned on the wall to rest. That was it. She admitted defeat.

"Finally." Karen sighed in relief as she returned to her team.

"Good job catching her before she hit the floor," Fiona praised. "People tend to underestimate situations like this, but collapsing is dangerous. She could have hit her head."

"Meh, I bet she's already hit it like a million times by now." Karen rolled her eyes. "I mean, that's the only way I can imagine somebody developing as many disorders as she's got."

"That is not a very nice thing to say," Fiona retorted. "Regardless, good reaction there." She patted her little sister's head for a job well done.

"Myaa~"

"I see that, despite your differences, you do care about Cornelia, after all."

"Hmph. Not at all." Karen puffed her cheeks. "It's just that she's part of the Mancers club too, so it'll be a problem for you if something happens to her. I did it for you sis, not for her."

"I see. I am blessed to have such a thoughtful sister."

"Hehe, mrrrrr~" Karen purred like a kitten upon being praised and petted.

Cornelia was now out of the game but the match went on. Once Daniella picked a substitute, the fight resumed. The climax was upon them!


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