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-Cape Town, Beginner's Plaza. A thick crowd of people buzzed around, chatting happily and exchanging notes. While there were fewer and fewer new players after the game's sudden explosive popularity, casual low-level players often congregated here to socialize and welcome those rare newbies. 

Today, the atmosphere was livelier than usual. Two legendary players were hanging out in the middle of the plaza. Gossip flew around discreetly as normal players observed the two mythical top players out of the corners of their eyes. 

Rook, the Wandering Knight! Rulers on every continent clamored to gain his favor. He nearly singlehandedly defeated an ultimate boss, the World-Devouring Drake, which completely annihilated party raids of over a hundred people!

And his partner in fame, Lillafrey, who was feared across the entire world! Her skill as a assassin was unmatched, and her ruthless PVP abilities made sure no one dared to cross her. She was a helper in Rook's battle against the World-Eating Drake, earning the two of them the unique title "Conqueror of the Devourer"!

Everyone playing Drop of Aether Online knew about this famous duo, but none could boast about being close to them. They were idols meant to be seen from afar, not mingling with the common players. Yet suddenly they showed up in this beginner area, obviously waiting on someone to show up. 

Many players fantasized going up and introducing themselves. But, as if holding instinctual knowledge that one predator pouncing meant the rest would follow suit, they all restrained themselves. More than introductions, they eagerly wanted to know who this famous duo planned to meet!

Lillafrey, sitting quietly on a manly statue's stone arm, twirled a dagger between her fingers. "I wonder what Master Xu will choose for his character!" she whispered to her companion. Though, since they were in close proximity, she wasn't using the game's whisper messaging system.

"With his current temperament... I thought he would just use the default," Rook said, leaning against base of the statue. 

"It's been a couple of hours. He must have gotten addicted to the customization!"

Rook frowned silently. Seeing his pensive expression, Lillafrey poked him with the tip of her boot. 

"It took me five hours."

"I know," Rook said, sighing. 

"How long does Master Xu take to get ready in the morning?"

"An hour."

"Oh, that long? Because you do it for him, right?"

"..." Rook, as if hearing nothing, turned his head away.

"Did you purposefully go slow?" Lillafrey asked.

"No."

"Oh, so it was unconscious."

"..." Xu Mingling, hurry up... Rook prayed.



On the other side of town, a human comet hurtled out of the sky. 

What the hell was up with this game! Xu Mingling wanted to shout.

He was falling out of the sky! And in front of him, a bunch of spam windows popped up!


CONGRATULATIONS ON JOINING DROP OF AETHER!

To celebrate the arrival of a new Aetherian, 

the Gatekeepers have provided you with a bag of supplies.

Please enjoy your new life to the fullest!

FEATURED LOCAL EVENT

"Craftsmanship Lessons"

Players are able to receive one free cultural profession lesson!

20% off all cultural profession lesson fees!

LIST OF COMMANDS

"Open status" - Opens your status window.

"Show quest" - Shows your current quest list.

"Show skills" - Shows a list of your skills and masteries.
"Open achievement" - Opens your achievement list.

...

...

"Close All Windows" - Minimizes all interface windows.

"Show help" - Opens the list of commands.

"Log me out" - Return to the Earth Plane.

ACHIEVEMENT

"LEFT THE EGG"

You've taken your first step into the world of Aether.

+1 Fame

TITLE UNLOCKED

"Newbie's Valor"

Good luck to the new players!

Effect: HP/MP/SP increase by 10.

TITLE UNLOCKED

"The First Celestial"

You are the first born Aetherian of the Celestial Race.

Effect: Fame and infamy increase 30% faster.

There was no time to read any of this while he was falling to his death!! Xu Mingling cursed that damned Luz. If they ever crossed paths again, Xu Mingling was sure to give that energy figure a beating.

"Close all windows!" First, Xu Mingling needed to clear his vision. With this command, all the interfaces blocking his view snapped out of existence. Xu Mingling saw the rapidly approaching city buildings and estimated that he had less than half a minute before a brutal impact. Damn you to hell, Luz. But he wouldn't give up here! With a glint in his eyes Xu Mingling commanded, "Show skills!"

The skill window promptly popped up.

CLEAR BELL'S SKILLS

ACTIVES

Energy Blast Lv. 1: Basic skill. Blast a sphere of raw spiritual power at an enemy, dealing minor damage.

Flow Gather Lv. 1: Gather energy towards you, increasing MP regeneration in a surrounding radius of 10m.

PASSIVES

Heavenly Domain Lv. 1: Enemies within 5m that are 5≥ levels weaker than you 

will have combat abilities and speed reduced by 10%.

RACIAL ATTRIBUTES

Threads of Connection: Your long hair grants the ability to use more mana.

Attunement: You are innately attuned to the laws of the universe and can learn skills twice as fast.

Celestial Flight: You can fly using spiritual power. 25MP consumed per second.


There! That Celestial Flight racial attribute! Surprisingly, Xu Mingling found salvation straight away!!

"Celestial Flight!" he shouted.

Xu Mingling became aware of an ethereal presence just out of his reach. Like smoke, he could see and smell but not grasp it. With the force of his will, Xu Mingling gathered up that presence inside himself. Whatever you are, let me fly!!

Like a balloon, the presence swelled, and burst all at once. The world lit up in Xu Mingling's eyes, a rush of fresh energy filling him up. With an exhilarated gasp, he felt as if the world around him, air, light, dust, and water, were all pieces of clay he could mold and shape to his liking. 

The world was his to manipulate! To conquer! 

With that sense of mind, Xu Mingling spread his influence over the world around him.

5 meters away from the ground, Xu Mingling floated in mid-air, his body righting itself to an elegant pose as if he were sitting on an invisible throne. The bewildered players who were watching this falling comet became enraptured by the sight of this angel-like being.

"Whoaaa! Who is this?"

"Wow, it was like watching a Ghibli film..."

"Don't tell me, is this a special event NPC?!?"

Quickly, the idea that Xu Mingling was some sort of event character with a unique quest spread through the crowd. Because of that, a sudden window popped up in his face.

ACHIEVEMENT

Social Debut

For good or for bad, you've been noticed by a lot of people!

+120 Fame

Xu Mingling coldly closed the window. This type of reaction was just normal to Xu Mingling, so he barely paid it any mind. When the crowd of eager players suddenly swarmed toward him, he swiftly floated higher.

Just like a pool of piranhas! Xu Mingling thought.

"You lot," he called out imperiously. The players immediately quieted down, anxious to hear the quest this mysterious 'NPC' would give. "Who can show me where the player Rook is?"

An immediate clamor erupted from the crowd.

Rook! The famous Rook! For those players who had passed the Beginner Plaza earlier, or who were keeping tabs through guildmates or friends, they knew that Rook and Lillafrey were inexplicably waiting in this noob beginner town! Could it be that those two were undertaking a high level quest which involved this NPC?! This rumor immediately spread throughout the crowd.

"Miss! I can take you there!" One outspoken player thrust his hand in the air. He was a low level swordsman who had just passed by the Beginner Plaza.

Xu Mingling snubbed him with a disdainful turn of his head.

Miss! Who the hell is a miss! 

The swordsman was confused by the Xu Mingling's obvious snub. But a sharp sorcerer-class girl, noticing how prideful this character seemed to be, appealed with a rather exaggerated statement. "With respect, O Master, I can show you the way!"

However, this type of pandering tone suited the taste of Xu Mingling, who naturally thought himself above everyone else. Casting a glance at the sorcerer girl, he hummed. "The rest of you get out of her way," he ordered. After a bit of confusion, the players dispersed, leaving the sorcerer girl room to walk. 

With a bow, the sorcerer said, "This way, respected Master!" and lead the flying Xu Mingling toward Beginner Plaza. Of course, all the other players followed. When passing players who knew nothing about what was happening, natural curiosity at seeing such a large group made them join too. 

Thus, Xu Mingling arrived to meet Zhong Huang and Chen Ai with an entourage of about 400 newbies.

ACHIEVEMENT

Natural Leadership

You successfully commanded a large group of people.

+50 Fame, +10 Charisma


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