This was Isle of Romanz, also known as the Love Island.
It’s located in the middle of a giant hurricane. Thus, if a player wasn’t led to the island by an NPC familiar with the oceans, it’s impossible for them to get here. The process of riding through the frightening, but safe, thunderstorm was also playfully called Love’s Trial.
Did that mean someone could reach the Isle of Romanz by paying the NPC like QiYao did? It’s not that simple.
QiYao was busy bustling around before all so he could find this NPC. He had to go through a very long chain of quests just so he could get to the Isle of Romanz. First, the player needed to patiently listen to the man describe the long story of how he grew up in the Isle of Romanz, the thrilling battles he had when sailing across the seas after growing up, how he eventually found the mainland and settled in. It was a very boring and dry process. It had no worth even if one wrote a whole novel and made a movie out of it.
Afterwards, the player would receive a quest to deliver a love letter. They would be going back and forth delivering love letters between the man and his wife who lives in another city. Sometimes, the player would have to deal with the other having a disgusted expression and dawdle around before giving them to reply. It was only after a long time before the man would finally tell the player he hadn’t given his beloved wife any roses for years. He’d then request the player to grow a bouquet of rainbow roses with their own hands before giving them to his wife in his place.
This was the most troublesome aspect of the quest. The player would need to start planting roses at a predetermined spot. At the start, they would only be able to plant one rose bush in a tiny plot of land. It was only after levelling up the skill could someone plant more rose bushes at once in larger plots of lands. It was just like a certain vegetable-stealing game from years ago.
But this wasn’t the most frustrating part of the quest. The so-called rainbow roses meant seven roses of different colours. The seeds players could buy from the shop would only be named “rose seed”. The player would only know the rose’s colour after it bloomed. While the game has shortened the rose’s growth time to just four hours, but the unlucky players would get the same colours over and over again. This one request might require constant planting for days. A less patient player would’ve given up by now.
The quest was only over when the bouquet was delivered and the man’s wife, with an embarrassed face, asks the player to deliver a special pack of tobacco to the man in return. The man would then hand over a business card. The player would then be led to the Isle of Romanz with their lover by showing him the card and paying him. There was even a promotion for heading there multiple times. It would decrease by 30 Crystal Coins each time until it was set at the minimum of 10 Crystal Coins per trip.
There was one requirement for going to Isle of Romanz though. Every time the player went to the island, they had to be with the same lover. If the player tried to ask the man to lead them and another player to the island after the first time the player had been to the island, the man wouldn’t even bother acknowledging the player. This was why the NPC asked QiYao twice if he was sure. Once XiaoYu was acknowledged as his lover, QiYao would never be able to go to the Isle of Romanz with another person.
However, if XiaoYu were to complete this quest, he didn’t have to bring QiYao along to the island. The “lover” would only be set on the first ride and it didn’t go both ways. This was set in place so ignorant players wouldn’t be cheated out of the experience by players who had a one-sided crush on them. While it was quite unfair to players who had to go through the quest, it was still accepted as a tiny sacrifice to make for love.
XiaoYu was only told about the island’s story and uniqueness after they had landed. He was touched by how far the other would go when he finally learned of how troublesome the quest was.
The Isle of Romanz was a gorgeous island. Pink bubbles of various sizes could be seen filling the air everywhere. They wouldn’t pop even when poked. They’d just slide away in a cutesy, shy whoosh and slowly float away. Thus, the tiny cat began its great war against the bubbles.
The island wasn’t really primitive like its history suggested. After some renovation, an amusement park stood tall in the centre of the island. It didn’t have many thrilling rides. After all, the island was meant to be the ideal lovers’ hangout. If one was really looking for thrill rides in the game, there were cities with the proper parks on the mainland for that.
Of course, the required attractions for increasing the bond between a couple, the haunted house, mirror maze, spinning cup ride, carousel etc. were all there. Naturally, there was the most necessary attraction representing a couple’s happiness, the Ferris wheel. The Isle of Romanz’s Ferris wheel was located right in the middle of the island. It was also the largest Ferris wheel in the game. It was said that when one was at the very top of the ride, one could view the island in its entirety. The sight was said to be too grand for words.
The other main attraction for the island was the couple’s suites scattered all over the place.
When the game was first launched, the publishers had sent out a tiny survey to all players. One of the questions was for the players to pick out the most famous and romantic couple’s suite they knew of from reality. The publishers then signed contracts with the real-life hotels of those suites to get those suites inserted into AO in return for a portion of the profits.
There were plenty of these romantic suites in all of the cities in-game, but they’re scattered through all the cities. By the time one went to all of them, the amount spent on teleporting around would make it an expensive endeavour. Either way, this was a game. Men loved to fight, women loved to look pretty and couples were all foolishly in love. Game publishers loved earning money from them the most.
QiYao led XiaoYu around and through the area with various hotels and mansions. That was a question for later tonight. Right now, all they needed to focus on was having fun and enjoying themselves!
QiYao let the two cats decide what ride to go on first. The little one was still busy fighting the pink bubbles around them. While the larger cat was already past the typical age for amusement park guests, he was stupidly in love. It’d be a shame not to do something rather foolish. XiaoYu was also secretly excited about it. It had been a really long time since he’d been to an amusement park. It was quite nostalgic.
“Let’s just go on every ride then,” QiYao said. XiaoYu had been wrecking his head over which ride to start with, so QiYao just pulled him over to the ride closest to where they were standing. It’d be very rare for them see any other player here. They were all gathered in the major capitals. Even if anyone did come to the island, it’d be after the hourly boss battle. The two had plenty of time to enjoy a little bit of everything. As expected, QiYao deliberately avoided the giant Ferris wheel dominating the centre of the park. That’s the climatic ride, wasn’t it?
They got on all the different rides, accepted love-shaped balloons from an NPC, ate some ice cream, tried their luck with the claw machines, won a tiny ribbon to be tied to the little cat’s tail from a shooting gallery, and more. They did every single thing that was typically done in real-life amusement parks. As they say, people in love do dumb things. As long as the couple’s happy, all was well.
Time passed and soon the sky grew dark. Frankly, it was no easy feat to do everything that could be done on the island. If someone could finish exploring the Isle of Romanz in just one day, then no one would visit the island. QiYao glanced at the time and led XiaoYu over to the eye-catching Ferris wheel.
Before they got in, QiYao spent a few minutes muttering to the NPC in charge of the ride. After receiving what seemed to be an affirmative answer, he happily led XiaoYu into their ride.
The Ferris wheel’s capsule was huge. An adult man could lie flat out on the ground and roll around. However, the couple had no interest in testing that out themselves. They merely watched as the tiny cat toyed with the ribbon tied to its tail. Occasionally they’d glancing out at the shrinking scenery.
“Did you have fun today?” QiYao asked.
“Let’s go explore the other areas of the island next time then.”
“Okay. Yao, thank you for bringing me here.” XiaoYu didn’t know of the Isle of Roman’s existence before today. He had been playing alone anyway. There was no need for him to understand a niche part of the game like this island, but then QiYao happened. He showed XiaoYu there were other things to enjoy in the game other than just killing monster after monster. They went to capture a mount, taking him to the Holiday Island, the capital’s festival, and now the holy land for dates. He was really thankful for being able to know QiYao.
Their capsule was still rising. It rose high past the buildings and trees and through the pink bubbles. The source of the bubbles was still a mystery, but its creations filled the entire island, making the place seem like a pink wonderland.
“This island is heart-shaped?” XiaoYu yelped in surprise. The higher they went, the more of the island they could see.
“Yes.” It was a little cringe-worthy, but this place was meant to be where all the stupidly-in-love couples gather. That made it much easier for everyone to accept it.
“This island is so beautiful…hm?” Their capsule was finally at the peak, but it seemed to have stopped.
“XiaoYu, do you know of the legend about Ferris wheels?”
“Couples who’ve been on a Ferris wheel together will eventually break up.” QiYao paused and glance at XiaoYu’s shocked face. “But if the couple kiss while they’re at the top of the ride, they will forever be together.”
“XiaoYu, don’t you think you should do something?” Teasing his lover had always been one of the greatest joys in QiYao’s life. He was rather eager to see just what the other would do.
Be together forever…XiaoYu recalled the promise he made to QiXuan. He wasn’t lying back then. He was sincerely ready to never give up no matter what happened. For him, QiYao’s presence by his side was the greatest motivation to live.
While the Ferris wheel legend is just superstitious nonsense, XiaoYu understood he needed to be the proactive party sometimes in this relationship. He placed his hand on QiYao’s shoulder and slowly leaned in. The easily embarrassed XiaoYu could already feel his whole face flushing red. Even so, he continued to slowly, but steadily, lean in until his lips were against QiYao’s.
This was the first time XiaoYu had kissed QiYao, instead of it being the other way. Even against the lips nervously trembling against his, QiYao was very satisfied. He pulled the other closer in and deepened the kiss. QiYao even thought it’d be nice if XiaoYu’s bashful nature never changed.
After the kiss, XiaoYu’s mind snapped back and realised what he’d just done. He had a strong urge to bury himself but they were at the tallest point of the island. There was nowhere to bury himself unless he wanted to just give up and bury himself in QiYao’s embrace.
“…Hm? Why haven’t we started descending?” XiaoYu didn’t dare to look into the QiYao’s kind and twinkling eyes. He snuck a glance outside only to realise their capsule didn’t seem to be descending anytime soon.
“I’ve asked the NPC to let us stop at the top for a while longer.” There weren’t many players on the island today, so QiYao negotiated for some more time at the peak in exchange for paying a bit more. The manager was more than happy to do so with money in it for him. With a smack to his own chest, he promised he’d stop the ride until QiYao was satisfied.
“There’s something we’ve yet to do.”
“??” They’d already kissed. Was there more to the legend?
Then, QiYao suddenly stood up. He knelt down on one knee before XiaoYu. As a knight, QiYao looked very graceful and handsome with that move, but it gave XiaoYu a fright.
“Let’s get married, XiaoYu,” QiYao said, pulling out a bouquet of rainbow roses. He had always been lucky. It didn’t take long for him to get the flowers he needed for the quest, but he kept planting because he wanted to have another bouquet to propose to XiaoYu with.
“!!” It’d be a lie to say XiaoYu wasn’t shocked to the core. Never could he have imagined QiYao would be proposing marriage. The other even had flowers ready. His mind went blank. He didn’t know how he should respond.
“…okay?” QiYao was actually a little nervous. After all, it was his first time proposing marriage.
“…mn. >////<” XiaoYu would never have said no. He had just never thought about marriage before. That was why he couldn’t react in time. But since QiYao mentioned it, he wouldn’t mind trying it out. He was looking forward to it too.
Perhaps the legend of the Ferris wheel would be changed now. Dear foolish lovers, if you want to be happy, remember to kiss and propose.
- Isle of Romanz: Jawaii in iRO. Named “Romanz” instead of “Roman” as that’s the old French version.
- Vegetable-stealing game: Happy Farm, the Chinese version of Farmville that includes stealing your neighbour’s crops instead of just helping them grow crops.