Vol.19 Ch.15: Pawn Sacrifice
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"A-Ah!" Lua exclaimed. "They surrounded me!"

It happened in the middle of a heated Ranked game. The enemy Jungler and Support teamed up in the jungle in order to gang up on Lua! They cut off her path right as she was about to return to the lane!

But, compared to Lua’s rising levels of anxiety, Fiona analyzed the situation calmly. They must have spotted her through wards. I have to admit, this is a nicely timed gank. I doubt she can make it out of there alive.

Lua had access to Paladin’s invincibility ultimate but it would be a waste to spend it here. Even if she does get away alive, she will be too injured to continue activity in the lane. As such, that line of play will not lead to any advantages for the team.

Unfortunately, sacrificing her is the only logical option here. Fiona concluded matter-of-factly. Her teammates sometimes called her “heartless” for proposing such lines, but that was simply nonsense. This is a strategic game just like chess. In a situation like this, sacrificing a teammate is no different than sacrificing a piece to improve the position.

Any objections to such plays always came from the heart, not the brain. For some reason, there were many players who felt obligated to "rescue their comrades" without stopping to think about the bigger picture first.

But, Fiona did not fall for such an obvious pitfall. She had no intention of wasting time and resources on a suboptimal play. There was no valid rescue plan at hand that would objectively make sense to go for. So, it was far more logical to assume that Lua’s fate was sealed and instead think of how to best utilize her as a resource until she collapses.

And so, Fiona analyzed the area from a distance using X-ray vision. Their Jungler is running low. I assume he only dared to join this surprise attack because he has an accomplice.

The enemy Viking was at 30% HP. Lua’s ward actually revealed his presence in the jungle a little before all of this, but everybody assumed the Viking would not dare to engage with such low HP. Even Fiona believed as much.

I failed to take into account the fact he can rely on the Support's recovery if push comes to shove. Fiona criticized herself. In hindsight, this was a predictable attack.

The enemy's Support was a Cleric, so he had no shortage of heals to spare. Fiona should have factored that in when analyzing the situation. Alas, it was too late now.

It was impossible to rewind time, so Fiona had to deal with the awkward board position in front of her. Even though she already concluded that Lua could not be saved, it did not mean the team should surrender that piece for free.

If I time it right, I can kill the Jungler. Fiona analyzed a few moves ahead. She was already on her way from Top Jungle to Bot Jungle, so this plan fitted well into her schedule.

The Cleric’s ult is down, so that will not pose an issue. Fiona analyzed. In that case, everything hangs on Lua’s ability to keep the enemy distracted. I will have to advise her well.

Fiona quickly drew up an escape path for Lua on the mini-map. This was similar to giving an order to a chess piece, except here it was uncertain whether the piece would be able to execute the orders to a T.

“Lua, follow this path,” Fiona ordered.

“Eh? Shouldn’t I retreat to Bot?”

“No, that is hopeless. They will catch up to you with the Cleric’s speed buff.”

“Oh. Yeah, they probably will…”

In truth, that was only partially correct. Lua had a chance of getting away alive if she were to use Aegis, but that meant wasting her ult and getting almost nothing in return. That was barely any better than dying, so Fiona omitted that part of the analysis so they could stay focused on the upcoming plan.

“I am on my way over there,” Fiona informed. “Stall them for as long as you can. Follow the path I drew for you and dodge their attacks as much as possible even if it slows you down. Don’t worry, I will .”

“O-Okay!”

“Also, strike the Cleric with your skill.”

“A-Alright!” Lua activated Justice Strike, summoning a giant blade from the sky. It crashed right on the Cleric as instructed, slowing down the pursuer.

I wonder, was the Cleric really the better target? Lua asked herself as ran. I feel like slowing down the Viking would do much more for me. But, who am I to question Fiona?

And so, Lua did her best to run away from her bloodthirsty pursuers. Though she had a notoriously bad habit of finding herself in unfortunate situations like these, she was also just as good at wiggling her way out of them. So, she’ll surely survive this predicament too! Y-yeah, no sweat!

Even with the panic drumming down on her, Lua navigated rather smoothly through the jungle. She efficiently cut through the corners and gave her pursuers a run for their money.

At some point, the Viking even used his Axe Blitz in order to catch up. From that point onward, he essentially continued the pursuit all alone. The Cleric was most likely still following from behind, but the two of them were practically separated at this point.

This was the ideal scenario Fiona envisioned. But unfortunately, even in this best-case scenario, it was impossible to save Lua when her HP was at a mere 10%.

Despite predicting this outcome from a mile away, Fiona did her best to get to the scene as quickly as possible. Alas, it was not meant to be…

『An ally has been killed!』

It was an unfortunate turn of events, one that Fiona had every intention of getting compensation for. Before the Viking had a chance to get away, Fiona leapt over the jungle wall using Majestic Leap.

Her careless target only had 40% HP remaining even after getting patched up by the Cleric. Meanwhile, Fiona was at 90%. This immense gap activated her Superiority passive, granting useful buffs for securing this kill.

BAM! Fiona crashed on the target from the sky and knocked them up into the air. And, while her prey was helplessly flying in the air, Fiona followed up with Mighty Roar.

RAAAAAWR! The roar shredded the prey's defenses and inflicted him with Fear. It made the Viking temporarily lose control over his character as he ran away in terror.

To make the most out of this crowd-control effect, Fiona made sure to scare away the Viking deeper into allied territory and farther away from the Cleric. Even though the Viking had already scored a kill, there was a very good chance the healer was still on his way to the scene due to Fiona’s intervention, so she had to keep them separated.

Things will become difficult if the Viking is healed. Fiona thought. I have to wrap this up quickly.

She activated The Queen's Dominion, summoning a pride of lions to block off the area. Despite how uneven the surrounding jungle walls were, the lions had no problem adjusting their formation to match the layout.

Most other AoE skills would have failed to activate a restricted area like this, but not The Queen's Dominion. Fiona was thankful for this unusual property of the skill as it made her life easier on many occasions.

He cannot escape now. It is over. Fiona chased down the terrorized Viking and slashed him from behind with her claws. By this point she had unleashed every skill in her kit, so now it was all about confirming the kill via basic attacks.

However, the Viking had no intention of going down without a fight. Once he recovered from the Fear, he retaliated with his ult. "Odin owns ye all!" He called upon a squad of warriors to aid him in battle.

In an instant, Fiona found herself surrounded by six rowdy fighters. However, that did not faze her in the slightest. How wasteful. This will not save you.

She ignored the threats around her and continued attacking the Viking. As long as she takes down the boss, the goons will disperse on their own.

 

SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! Fiona tirelessly assaulted the Viking. The man tried to counterattack at first but soon realized it was futile. Despite being outnumbered, Fiona had too much stat advantage inside her domain.

Down to it, everything revolved around damage numbers. All that mattered was reducing the Viking’s HP down to 0 before the Cleric arrived. As such, the enemy warriors could be entirely ignored so long as Fiona achieved that goal.

However, her opponent had no intentions of making this easy. The Viking rolled away and even used Takedown as an escape tool. He did everything he could to keep his distance from Fiona and prolong his life.

He is good. Fiona thought. Perhaps I underestimated his skill a little. I assumed I had more leeway than that.

The Viking and his goons were making Fiona's life much harder than expected. During times like this, she was forced to remember that all the “pieces” on the board were actual human beings who could sometimes exceed expectations.

Even though this fight was technically a math problem that involved damage numbers and stats, there was still a human element that complicated matters. The Viking very much wanted to stay alive and that adrenaline made him outperform Fiona’s expectations.

An admirable fighting spirit. Fiona nodded. However, in the end, math and game theory are absolute.

『You have killed an enemy!』

She slashed down the Viking right before he reunited with the Cleric. The man's stubbornness nearly caused Fiona’s plan to fall apart, but in the end, everything remained within Fiona's expectations.

Her understanding of Classmancers' game theory was still far from complete due to her limited experience. Nonetheless, she was already capable of thinking multiple steps ahead and estimating the math involved.

And, this is not over yet. Fiona dashed past the collapsed Viking. Good, he is here. She nodded in satisfaction as she spotted the Cleric. The man only came here to rescue his ally, so he turned around as soon as that was no longer possible.

But, Fiona had every intention of giving chase. There was a very real opportunity of scoring a Double Kill here, which she very much wanted to seize.

Thus, Fiona chased the Cleric through the jungle. Her Movement Speed dropped significantly after she left the Queen's Dominion, but her Lionfolk was nonetheless faster than her prey.

The Cleric could have gotten away with ease if he had Godspeed available, but he spent it earlier in order to chase Lua. That play helped his accomplice catch up to Lua and secure the kill, but it left him defenseless against a counterattack such as this.

Eventually, Fiona caught up to the clergyman. Then, she ravaged the man's back with her razor-sharp claws. SWISH! SWISH! RIP!

Despite the quick attacks, the damage accumulated slowly. The Cleric only dropped to 50% HP after all these hits.

He is quite tanky. Fiona realized. It seems that getting a kill is out of the question. In that case, I shall use this opportunity to counter-jungle.

Under the pretense of chasing the Cleric, Fiona invaded deep into the enemy jungle. There was no immediate danger of being ganked here because Fiona had just slain the enemy Jungler with her own two hands. As such, there should be no threats in the vicinity.

Essentially, Fiona got a free ticket into the enemy’s territory, and she was planning to fully capitalize on this golden opportunity.

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