86. Christmas Eve
In the blink of an eye, Christmas was here. After a few game updates patched on in the silent of the night, the game was soon filled with Christmas decorations. Even players nested deep in their caves or forests would occasionally be startled by a Christmas bell chiming from a tree branch, thinking it was a monster.
On Christmas Eve, the main cities of AO would be facing the very last attempt by the Evil Santa Clauses to ruin Christmas. During the event, not only will players face an invading force of Evil Santa Clauses, the mobs will also be spawning inside the cities to make it easier for players to collect all the socks they want one last time.
In the great plaza outside of the cities’ southern gate, a ginormous Evil Santa Claus boss monster would also spawn on the hour from 8 pm to 10 pm. Naturally, this boss would be much, much tougher than the normal mobs roaming within the city. Still, no one had to worry. As it was Christmas Eve, PvP was not allowed in all maps from noon to midnight, except for PvP arena. Furthermore, no one would be losing levels from being killed, not even by monsters.
Meanwhile, the New Year events have quietly started. The first event was defeating the monster “Nian”. Kill it and the player would stand a chance to win New Year Rice Cakes, Red Envelopes and other gifts. Either way, as a result, the servers were bursting with life. Every morning, the first thing anyone did was to look at the Update Notice Board to see what fun new things were in store for them.
In comparison, the Guild Wars were looking rather lacklustre. With it being so close to the new year, many players, particularly the female players, have lost their will to just massacre everything in sight. They’d all applied for leave to participate in the festivities and muck about with their outfits and accessories. Even the latest underground map had lost any attractive qualities it might’ve had from being new to the game. All guilds with a fortress had it all mapped out by now. Treasure Chests were only ever in the control of Guild Leaders so most players would never be able to see it. Hence, they’d given up on even fantasising about it at all.
Speaking of the Treasure Chests, after days of secret comparisons, Egg_Tart finally had to admit it. XiaoYu was much luckier than he was. Even if XiaoYu was unlucky enough to only get a normal Dead Branch and a chest of potions, Egg_Tart would only get a chest of potions, nothing more. He got so pissed that he nearly tried to lift the chest up, turn it upside down and start shaking to see if there was anything stuck to the bottom.
However, this was a matter of dignity. No matter how bad things got, he would never ask XiaoYu to come open up the chest in his subsidiary guild. He wouldn’t be that kind of lustful ruler. ╭(╯^╰)╮
“XiaoYu, can you follow me to a place tomorrow night?” QiYao asked the day before Christmas Eve.
“Sure. Where to?” XiaoYu replied.
“It’s a secret.”
“You’ll know once you get there,” QiYao said, acting all mysterious.
“…” That just made XiaoYu even more curious.
On the evening of Christmas Eve, the cities were filled to the brim with players. No Evil Santa Clauses could live past 5 seconds after spawning. When the hourly boss spawned, the numbers would skyrocket even further.
XiaoYu didn’t like events with crowds. Anyway, he was a healer. Unless the mob spawned right next to his hand, there was no way he could be faster than a wizard or archer. QiYao’s plan to vanish into thin air with XiaoYu came at the right time.
Throughout the whole journey, QiYao never told the other were they were going. All he did was pull XiaoYu along by the hand as they jumped from portal to portal until they reached a port somewhere XiaoYu knew not.
It was a tiny town. There was a single straight road and one could look out at the flat blue horizon from the other end of the street. There was no one around other than a few fishermen NPCs.
QiYao led XiaoYu along the road until they reached the wooden pier at the end. All they could see were the endless ocean and a few seagulls scattered across the evening sky. XiaoYu’s confusion grew. Just why did QiYao want to bring him here? Were they going fishing?
“Hello,” QiYao called out to someone below the pier.
XiaoYu peeked under. This was a two-tier pier. There was a middle-aged man, an NPC, fishing with a cigarette hanging from his lips.
“Ah, young man, you’re here. This is the one you want to bring along?” the man languidly replied. He didn’t look up at QiYao, as if the other’s appearance wasn’t a surprise to him.
“Yes,” QiYao said.
“You’re really sure? Once we set out, there’s no regrets.”
“Okay. Pay up.” The man perked up to life. He threw aside his fishing rod and stood up. With a quick swoosh, he climbed up to the upper pier and laid his hand out before QiYao.
Without hesitation, QiYao handed the man a pouch.
“All’s good. 100 Crystal Coins in total. Just a moment. I’ll be right back,” the man said with a satisfied nod after a quick count of the bag’s contents. Immediately afterwards, he scampered off into the distance.
“…?” XiaoYu’s confusion was now visible on his face as the plot developed into a strange direction.
“You’ll soon know,” QiYao calmly replied.
Time ticked by. Just as XiaoYu was about to think the NPC wasn’t coming back, he heard a boat closing in from far away. It was the missing NPC, slowly steering his way to them.
“Get in, young ones,” the man happily chimed with a wide grin. As expected, his attitude was completely changed after being paid.
“Sit tight!” the man yodelled once the two men had sat down in the boat. It started to gain speed and was soon speeding off into the vast sea.
“XiaoYu, remember to hold on tight to me later.”
“…?” The ship was fast but it wasn’t a rocky ride. While XiaoYu pondered over why QiYao said that, he saw the sky changing colours outside the window.
“A typhoon?” XiaoYu exclaimed.
The skies were bright and cheery just a moment ago. Now, grey clouds stretch all across the horizon. Thunder could be heard coming from afar. The waves started growing. The boat started swaying. XiaoYu had never encountered such a situation before. He was lost. His hands clamped down on QiYao who was sitting right beside him.
“Don’t worry. The ship won’t crash.” QiYao embraced XiaoYu and gently patted the other on the back.
“Mn.” QiYao’s voice always had a magical effect on XiaoYu. It’d make him unwittingly trust every single word that came out of the other’s mouth. No matter how worrying the unknown path forward was, XiaoYu would still calm down.
The boat didn’t shy away from the thundering storm ahead. Instead, it sped and charged straight into the cyclone. Wind and water twine and mingle. The sea splashed and sloshed. The boat should’ve succumbed to the huge waves surrounding it long ago, sinking to the depths of the ocean. But the man steering the boat didn’t seem to mind the horrible weather around him. The boat plunged up one wave after another in ease. The terrifying waves seemed to have turned into the best assistance forward for the boat. They pushed the boat far past the speed it could’ve achieved by itself.
The boat sped past the rainstorm without any danger. When light once again shone on XiaoYu’s face, a gigantic island had appeared before the ship.
- Nian: In the original game, this monster is called “Zhu Po Long” or “Dancing Dragon”. Not only is it a mob in the Endless Tower and the Louyang Dungeons, according to certain sources it (apparently) was an Event mob. It could drop Lucky Candy, Lucky Candy Cane, Lucky Cookie, Firecracker and Red Envelope. However, this particular version of the New Year event might be derived from Asian RO editions as websites that claim these all link to the Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese databases (which won’t load for me). The closest equivalent to AO’s New Year Event from iRO appears to be the 2008 Lunar New Year Event where players exchange rice pouches for rice cakes and Red Envelopes.
- New Year: Reminder that this is a Chinese novel completed in 2011 set in a Korean game. The Gregorian Calendar’s new year wasn’t really a thing anyone celebrated online and RO only ever had Lunar New Year events.
- Many players, particularly female players: To anyone who’s looking to write anything, please note this specific example of how too much description can be detrimental to one’s career. This is a problematic phrasing that could lead to great backlash from English readers. It contributes nothing as there aren’t any female players about to enter the scene and only highlights the misogynistic culture the writer is surrounded by. I had been debating whether to edit “particularly female players” out as it really highlights just how few women there are in this novel, but it’s been left in as it’s not the most problematic phrasing to be found in this novel.