While others were headed to the church, Annan brought the players to the viscount mansion at Roseburg first.
The players also realized what was going on and followed Annan into his private quarter with excitement.
“Feel free to sit anywhere.” Annan smiled amiably and served black tea to the players.
Afterwards, Annan held a cup of tea in both hands and sat peacefully in front of them.
[You have completed the limited-time main mission: Protector]
At this moment, a line of white text flashed in front of Lin Yiyi’s four-player group suddenly.
They were taken aback for a moment, and then excitement surfaced on their faces.
Yes, we’re going to be rewarded!
When they saw the mission reward, they were even more surprised.
[Acquired Elixir x 1]
[Acquired Immediate Respawn Privilege x 1.]
[Acquired Resident Identity Card x 1.]
[Elixir (Type III)]
[Type: Consumables (Blue)]
[Effect: Restore 100% Health (only for Bronze Rank usage)]
[Immediate Respawn Privilege]
[Type: Low-level Privilege]
[Effect: After use, you can unconditionally resurrect once in the next 30 minutes, and you can specify a respawn location (only within locations you have been to).]
[Resident Identity Card]
[Type: High-level Privilege]
[Effect: Use this item in the real world to make the specified target qualify as a player.]
Indeed, Annan decided not to issue more affection ratings to the players this time.
This was because he planned to give away a batch of affection ratings on a large scale as a reward for the end of a main mission later. If those players didn’t plan to spend the affection rating to buy things but want to stock up, Annan would be in an awkward spot.
Annan hadn’t decided how many levels of affection would exist after [Trusted].
Even if Annan’s acting skills were excellent, treating the players like VIPs with warm smiles every time didn’t feel quite right.
Annan found it alright if a girl was hoarding up the ‘affections’.
What if a man hoarded all those affection ratings?!
Lin Yiyi could sense a bottle of Minute Maid-like  potion with a glass shell and a bronze base, a somewhat illusory golden ball of light, and a contract appeared in a vague space within her consciousness.
She flipped through the contract immediately.
The content of the contract was at the top post, “What You Need to Know About the Mist Continent!” on the forum. That was to inform the players that it was “the post that put a special note on naming, changing professions and adding points in the status panel.”
At the end of the last page, there was an additional “I have understood and agreed to all content on this document” — fingerprint reader.
Although no experience and affection rating was issued this time, the generous mission rewards dumbfounded the four of them.
It felt like they were walking on the road when suddenly they were hit on the head by a bag filled with hundred-dollar bills.
This identity card alone normally required a [Trusted] level prestige and 2000 affection ratings!
“It looks like you have received my gifts.” Annan looked at the players brimming with joy and smiled gently, “Do you like them?
“Previously, the Child asked about the Resident ID, so I guessed this is something you all wanted at that time. It’s troublesome to be the guarantor and forge your ID, but you have already proven your loyalty, sense of responsibility, and capability.”
Annan blinked, looking at the four of them with his crystal clear pupils. He said confidently, “You all are reliable. I believe in your judgment of others.
“As for the rest of the gifts, I have given them to you along with the contract. This is my new ability. When I want to give you things in the future, I don’t need to be in close proximity with you anymore; if I need your help, I don’t have to look for you personally. This will be quite convenient.”
As Annan finished speaking, new prompts appeared in front of the players:
[Main storyline: The prologue “The Wolf Cub from the Foreign Land” has ended.]
[The game version is being updated…]
[The Mist Continent has been updated to version 1.02. The patch notes are as follows:]
[1. The beginner mission is modified, with new selections of starting professions being added.]
[2. The system has significantly increased the prestige rewards of the faction “Secret Eye”. Players who have already obtained prestige levels will have their rewards doubled.]
[3. The faction “Austere-Winter” and its related activities will be launched in the future. Please pay close attention to the faction leader “Annan·Austere-Winter”.]
[4. The map area “North Sea Territory” is available. You may leave the Freezing Water Port — Roseburg territory after advancing into a Transcended, and you may freely explore the North Sea Territory.]
[5. A long-term weekly mission, “Freezing Water Port Construction,” is activated. Please consult the faction leader “Annan·Austere-Winter” for more information.]
[6. Players no longer need to accept the main mission face-to-face with NPCs. Once triggered, the mission will be automatically assigned to the designated players.]
[7. You’re granted the new function “Mission Reward Storage Space”, which can automatically save the mission rewards that have been obtained. All mission rewards obtained through the system will be automatically issued to this storage space.]
[8. Fixed some known bugs.]
[Friendly Reminder: The current main mission has ended. Please receive the new faction mission from the faction leader to continue to improve your status, set foot on the path of transcendence as soon as possible, or exchange for the prestige items you desire.]
[Those who have already embarked on the path of transcendence will have reduced experience gain in Freezing Water Port.]
[After the next stage of the main mission is activated, all items in the prestige store will be refreshed and replaced. If you have set your eyes on any current items, please redeem them as soon as possible.]
[The main mission for the next phase will be issued after three months. Please return to the Freezing Water Port before starting the main mission for the next phase. Otherwise, the system will automatically regard you as giving up on all the said main missions!]
[To celebrate the update, the following rewards will be given to all players:]
[Annan·Austere-Winter’s affection rating x 1000]
[Immediate Respawn Privilege x 1]
After being notified of the rewards, the players went into a commotion.
“—Thank you O great Game Designer!”
“—Wait, is there a game designer for this game?”
“—All in all, it’s awesome… Super-Duper Cool!”
“—Annan is awesome!”
“—Annan Upvote + 1!”
Those other players, who weren’t quite enthusiastic because they didn’t participate in the main mission, were instantly cheered up after receiving this reward.
While the higher-level players received benefits from the higher-level game content because of premium currencies, stronger skills and more effort, the planners had to also give ordinary players something. Only then would these players be less jealous but instead “be proud of each other” and form a sense of collectiveness.
Hence, the reward mechanism was essential to be instilled in the players so they wouldn’t feel like they were losing out after seeing other players in a better state. On the other hand, they would be grateful as these premium players’ efforts granted them rewards. Then, their jealousy would be gradually converted into a sense of unity.
While Lin Yiyi was reading the system update log carefully, Delicious Wind Goose had realized something from the log and Annan’s previous words.
“Do you want us to leave here temporarily, or are you going to leave the Freezing Water Port?” Delicious Wind Goose asked, “Otherwise, this ability shouldn’t be necessary.”
If they stayed with Annan, then Annan wouldn’t have to develop a way to “distribute rewards remotely”.
Annan felt helpless and nodded as if he was impressed.
“As expected of you.” Annan, who was lying on the table, took a sip of the black tea and barely propped himself up. He replied seriously, “I think you’re correct for both guesses.
“I’m hoping that you can help me collect information about the ‘Hermetic School’, the ‘Noah Kingdom’s political situation’, and other secret information about the path of transcendence. However, don’t go too far from our palace. It’s best to stay inside the North Sea Territory.
“I know that you are both carefree and may be troubled by others. If you are arrested and bullied in the North Sea Territory, just say the name ‘Geraint’. If that still doesn’t work, you should abuse your immortality and escape back here. I’m here to uphold justice for you.”
Annan reassured the players majestically, but it was a tad bit amusing due to his small stature.
Immediately, Annan added, “However, please don’t bring shame and humiliation onto me. Refrain from carrying out evil deeds, follow the law and be kind to others. Always remember that we are righteous people.”
Annan considered and hesitated for a long time about whether he should let the players go free, but he still decided that it was better to.
Indeed, players were very uncontrollable.
They could no longer grind too much on the Gallery Dungeon, so its improvement to the players was quite limited.
Instead of asking Annan to find a way to get a dungeon instance for them, it was better to let these players explore this “open world” by themselves and seek out dungeon instances for themselves.
If Annan wasn’t wrong, there weren’t many attempts left for the Gallery Dungeon for the players after leaving the Freezing Water Port.
At that time, Annan could complete the dungeon instance, lest that the players would get used to doing speed runs on dungeons, wasting the precious decryption rewards and consuming the attempts too quickly.
Before that, Annan also had two other dungeon instances to challenge.
There were two countdown buffs imposed on him, “Remnants of the Wheel of Divine Transporter” and “Remains of the Death Howl”.
In three days, he would enter a random nightmare with the keyword “deceased”.
Another three days later, Annan would fall into a random nightmare with the keyword “brilliance” again.
When Annan came out from them, this group of players should graduate from the starting village — Freezing Water Port. Those who shared the Gallery Dungeon’s experience with Annan were at most the four new players.
After finishing the Gallery Dungeon, Annan could have one or two professions approaching Level 20.
If Annan were lucky, he might even advance to the Silver Rank before heading to the royal capital!
Michelangelo… or “the Man in the Mirror” most likely would teach Annan the profession’s advancement.
Before that, Annan planned to probe “the Man in the Mirror” from Austere-Winter Dukedom.
Do you know what happened in the Austere-Winter Dukedom?
Is the Grand Duke still alive?
How is Maria now?
My workload is heavy.
The Noah Kingdom’s royal capital. The Rotten Man. The Hermetic School. The Austere-Winter Dukedom. The Venerated Skeleton. The Old Grandmother…
What a mess, but I’m involved with all of them.
Noticing that Annan sighed, Lin Yiyi snapped a screenshot and took a photo of Annan.
Yay! Cute Annan Emoji! Lin Yiyi tightened her fists in excitement.
Credits to MindMatrix for editing this chapter and improving the readability.
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