Chapter I: Act I
Aether first meets Xiao in the quest "Wangshu" that is part of Liyue's archon quest. He is sent to meet several adepti and deliver the message of Rex Lapis' death to them. After going to the highest balcony of the Wangshu Inn, Aether and Paimon admire the scenery of the land when Xiao suddenly appears next to them, startling both of them. Xiao warns them about getting involved in the world of adepti and advises them to leave to avoid getting hurt. Before Aether and Paimon get to properly talk, Xiao disappears.
Aether speaks to Verr Goldet and asks about him. She's already impressed because Xiao rarely agrees to see people in the first place and that he must be in a good mood then. Should Aether be able to keep him in a good mood, they may be able to properly converse with him.
Paimon and Aether prepare a Satisfying Salad and go through a small series of events to also get Almond Tofu, Xiao's favourite food. They approach him again and offer the dishes to him which he accepts. He's stunned after Aether tells him what happened to Rex Lapis and explains he will seek out the other adepti.
Chapter I: Act III
When Osial emerges in the quest "Turning Point", Aether and Paimon rush to the Jade Chamber in order to help defend against it. Xiao is also there along with the other adepti, questioning why Aether has come. The adepti, the Qixing and Aether start to fight Osial and the Fatui that arrive as well. When Osial begins to attack, Xiao warns Aether not to get hit. He soon blesses Aether with his adeptal powers as well, greatly increasing his movement speed.
After the Fatui are defeated, Osial unleashes an incredibly powerful attack. The platform which Aether and the others were fighting on starts to break, causing Aether to fall from an incredible height. However, Xiao teleports towards him and holds him from behind, bringing him back to the Jade Chamber. Aether has one arm over Xiao's shoulder, while Xiao's hands hold onto Aether's and his waist as a support. Xiao squeezes his hand and tells him to be careful which Aether acknowledges.
Xiao, the other adepti and Aether combine their powers at last to sacrifice the Jade Chamber and defeat Osial.
Act I: Butterfly's Dream:
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Lantern Rite (2021)
Part I - The Origin of the Lanterns
At the start of the festival, Verr Goldet asks Aether and Paimon to look out for Xiao and try to entice him to experience the festival, but the two believe it is not the best time to disturb Xiao yet due to the Starsnatcher and Pervases incident.
Part II - Currents Deep Beneath the Lanterns
While the Mingxiao Lantern is under construction, Aether and Paimon observe a suspicious person around the highly-flammable materials. After seeing him run off, they notice that Xiao is also at the harbor and has been watching this person. Xiao explains that he sensed a malign influence, but since the case doesn't involve demons or deities, he entrusts the responsibility to Aether and takes his leave.
Later, when Aether questions treasure hoarders about a mysterious letter, Xiao suddenly appears to help. The treasure hoarders challenge him, but Xiao defeats them and scares them into handing over the letter. He wants to leave, but Aether stops him, explaining that the next time they meet, it should be somewhere with a view on the Mingxiao Lantern. Xiao seems to reject the idea at first, but then tells him to come to Wangshu Inn once the matter is resolved, since the lantern could be seen even from there.
Part III - Light Upon the Sea
After solving the case, Aether fulfills the agreement and heads to Wangshu Inn to meet Xiao. Aether once again asks about seeing the Mingxiao Lantern together with him, but Xiao rejects and advises him to go to the city alone. In the Developer's Insight, it was confirmed that Xiao didn't dislike the idea of joining Aether, but rejected out of avoidance. Because Xiao is in a lonely state where he hasn't spent much time among humans, he wouldn't know how to act and what his place would be in the crowd.
Aether and Paimon talk to Verr Goldet and Huai'an to see if they know how to convince Xiao. Huai'an mentions that it would be easier to bring Lantern Rite to Xiao than the other way around, which Paimon and Aether actually consider a great idea. Together with Huai'an, they find a spot and set up a festive stall. Aether and Paimon tell him to prepare Almond Tofu and Grilled Tiger Fish before going back to fetch Xiao.
Once more, Aether asks Xiao to come to the Lantern Rite with him, but tells him that he won't have to go to Liyue Harbor. Xiao is confused, so Paimon reveals what they prepared and tells Xiao to quickly come down with them. Even when they arrive, Xiao still doesn't understand the meaning behind it, so Aether explains that he can still participate in the festival this way.
The three eat together, Paimon suggesting that they should go to the harbor for the Mingxiao Lantern now. Aether tells Xiao to come with them, but he rejects, so Aether asks if he can at least accompany them on the way. Paimon points out how dangerous the road is and that they need his protection, which ultimately convinces Xiao to escort them.
When they arrive at the outskirts, Paimon finally asks why he is so adamant about not getting involved, so Xiao explains that him and the citizens have nothing in common. He's reluctant to speak more on the matter, so he bids farewell. Aether asks one more time, but Xiao still refuses. Before he leaves, he tells Aether to call his name if he's in trouble, promising that he'll be there anywhere and anytime.
While Aether and Paimon watch in the city, Xiao is shown to actually watch the lanterns from afar as well, sitting down and even smiling.
Moonchase Festival (2021)
One for the Foodies, Two for the Show
Aether, Xiangling and Keqing all make their way to Wangshu Inn to gather more information about the Stove God. Smiley Yanxiao is happy to help out, but also asks Aether for a favor. He wants to offer a dish to Xiao that's not Almond Tofu, so he asks Aether to teach him the Satisfying Salad recipe. He has heard about Aether making this salad for Xiao in the past, which seems to be the only other dish that Xiao has found respectable.
Three to Get Ready, and Here We Go
During the second part of the event quest, "Three to Get Ready, and Here We Go", Xiangling and Aether collect the opinions from Liyue citizens about their preferences in food and their opinions on Xiangling's dish. When they search for a person with mild tastes, Aether thinks of asking Xiao. Remembering Xiao's promise of coming as soon as his name is spoken, they go to a quiet place and Paimon yells for Xiao, but nothing happens.
Paimon is confused and Aether clarifies that Xiao actually only made the promise to him. After speaking his name, Xiao appears immediately. Aether is surprised it worked and Xiao tells him that he honors the promise he made to Aether.
Xiangling explains that she would like Xiao's opinion on her dish, but Xiao hesitates. Aether also expresses that he would like for Xiao to try it, so Xiao finally agrees, explaining that he will do it because it is Aether. After Xiao gives his opinion, he wants to take his leave. Aether thanks him and Xiao bids farewell with "See you next time".
Lantern Rite (2022)
Xiao appears during the 2nd part of the event quest when Keqing and Aether travel to give gifts to the adepti. Xiao rejects these gifts since he doesn't think gratitude for his duties is needed and plans to leave. Aether asks if he wants to see the fireworks together, but Xiao explains he will continue his patrol as usual. Xiao wants to remind him what to do when he needs him, but Aether reassures him he already knows.
After the quest, Xiao can be found near Pevases' temple. When talking to him, Xiao assumes Aether has come to invite him to watch the fireworks together, which Aether confirms to be true. Xiao thinks he'll be fine where he is.
Xiao says that he decided he would find a Crystalfly for Aether to put in his hair because "it would look nice [on Aether]." Before Xiao knew it, he caught nine more, which in total equates to the 10 Crystal Cores attached to the mail in addition to Almond Tofu—his favorite dish. He goes on to tell Aether that if he wishes to meet him again, he should only speak his name. Lastly, Xiao discloses that being able to spend some time with Aether is enough despite his apathy towards birthdays and celebrations, and aversion to large groups of people.
Teyvat Food Notes
Furthermore, Mihoyo released another blog post which describes how Xiao's birthday was spent. Aether, thinking about what to get Xiao for his birthday, wanted to give him something other than Almond Tofu because he didn't want to be like everyone else. So, he decided on making him the Mint Jelly he tasted during Windblume Festival as Xiao's birthday present. Meeting up with Xiao, Aether was handed the Crystalfly mentioned in Xiao's letter, but he didn't think that it was suitable to wear in his hair.
The two then walked through Liyue together, Aether collecting ingredients for the jelly along the way. In the afternoon, the two returned to Wangshu Inn where Aether borrowed the kitchen to make the dish, Xiao offering to help out. When they finished making the 'slimes', Xiao didn't want to eat it, wanting to order Almond Tofu instead. He tells Aether that he isn't bothered about the taste, but that he wanted to collect it, resulting in Aether telling him how he couldn't because it will expire. After eating the jelly and commenting on the taste, Xiao then explains why he likes Almond Tofu - the dish reminds him of certain memories. The blog ends with Xiao stating how the jelly they made together is now also a "special memory" as he thanks Aether.
Should the player own Xiao as a character, they unlock several voice lines of Xiao talking to Aether. The higher the friendship level, the more voice lines can be unlocked and the deeper the player's, and thus Aether's, bond with him grows.
- “If you awake to a knife at your throat, if monsters dig their claws into you, if death comes knocking at your door, call out my name. Adeptus Xiao. I will be here when you call.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "Hello"
- “Go. I'll be here.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "Good Night"
- “The Lantern Rite? Hmph. the time for humans to discard their glowing trash into the sea has returned... How childish... Though if you insist... I will go with you.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "About Us: Lantern Rite"
- “I deal in death. If you cannot bring yourself to kill — speak my name.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "Something to Share"
- “I'm willing to protect you. But don't think about getting close, and stay out of my way, or all that awaits you is regret.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "More About Xiao: I"
- “In the thousands of years that have passed, I have taken countless wraiths. If you want no trouble, stay away from me. See me as a weapon, and nothing more.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "More About Xiao: II"
- “It's too late. The connection between us is too strong. Even if you wanted to, it's too late to sever it. Hm? You've never thought to sever it? *sigh* This eternal dance of demon subjugation... My fight goes on. But I would like to know more about you.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "More About Xiao: V"
- “Countless souls have fallen prey to these hands. I too have been swallowed by the darkness — and yet you dare to drive me on. You may think of me as... your companion. You seek to find me salvation? ...You... really are a difficult being to comprehend.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "Feelings About Ascension: Conclusion"
- “This mortal concept of commemorating the day of your birth really is redundant. Wait. Have this. It's a butterfly I made from leaves. Okay. Take it. It's an adepti amulet — it staves off evil..”
- — Xiao's voiceline "Birthday"
- “It seems Shenhe places a great deal of trust in you. Well, how could she not. There are few people in the world as kind and good-natured as you.”
- — Xiao's voiceline "About Shenhe"
- “I will protect this haven. For your sake. I know that I can never have a peaceful and carefree life. ...Still, your kindness is accepted.”
- — Xiao's teapot dialouge
- “Generally, I don't partake in activities like "chatting." But if it's with you... I'll try.”
- — Xiao's teapot dialouge
- “...I don't know if it's related to you, but recently, the pain from my karmic debt has been less excruciating. It's much easier to bear than before.”
- — Xiao's teapot dialouge
- “If you have free time, we can go to Liyue Harbor together...”
- — Xiao's teapot dialouge
Other Characters' Voicelines
- “My first impression of him was that he's not one to smile. After meeting him again more recently, however, he's still as reserved as ever, but... he seems a lot more relaxed now. Maybe he... met someone special.”
- — Shenhe's voiceline "About Xiao"
The ship first gained real traction after the quest "Act 3: A New Star Approaches" was released because of the cutscene where Xiao saves Aether from falling in the sky. It has been well established in the fandom ever since. Especially due to the 1.3 update containing the Lantern Rite event and Xiao's story quest, Xiaother's fanbase and popularity grew immensely.
Xiaother possesses multiple tropes that people see much appeal in. For one they are often seen as the sun and moon. Not only do their colour schemes match this concept, but Aether is usually depicted as the gentle soul of the two, being rather bubbly and kind, while Xiao is canonically distant and often supresses his feelings. The healing aspect of this ship is what truly drives the fandom however. Since Xiao has been suffering for centuries and is deeply traumatized, many love the idea of Aether being the one to show Xiao the good sides of life and that he's worth much more than simply being a tool in battle. This was even partially confirmed as the "Feelings About Ascension: Conclusion" confirms Aether wants to help Xiao find salvation. Aether is often portrayed comforting Xiao, not leaving his side and being gentle with him.
Another often seen idea in fanworks is Xiao being overwhelmed by simple acts of affection, such as hugs.
Xiao being an immortal being that has stayed from others for most of his life, fans enjoy Aether being the one to be able to move his heart. The devotion that follows even in game is another factor as well. From the very beginning Xiao is willing to kill for Aether, something romantic to many. Xiao protecting Aether is often a theme in fanworks and they're portrayed as a battle couple a lot of times as well.
Xiaother became the 7th most written for ship on Archive of Our Own in the Genshin Impact fandom.
- When the Traveler first meets Xiao in Wangshu Inn, the soundtrack "Lovers' Oath" plays.
- In the Version 2.2 event "Tuned to the World's Sounds", the player performs "Lovers' Oath" together with Xiao in a duet. Additionally, the place where they perform is the balcony on Wangshu Inn where they first met.
- In Collected Miscellany - "Xiao: Conqueror of Demons", Dainsleif comments at the end, "Will he meet someone, who understands his sacrifice and can shine a ray of light into his dark world..." The fandom speculates on it being Aether due to the connotations of light to his character and his desire to help Xiao.
- In the Developer's Insight for Xiao's character, it was revealed that Aether's first impression of Xiao was that he is a silent and brooding individual, a courageous and competent fighter, and someone who harbors great suffering. They also explain that after Aether spends time with Xiao, he can sense Xiao's gentler side deep down.
- In Xiao's story quest, Pervases notes that he senses Xiao's aura and karma upon Aether, indicating that Aether does not get affected by Xiao's heavy karma.
- Xiao gives Aether a butterfly amulet on their birthday. In Chinese culture, a butterfly represents young love and symbolizes an undying bond between lovers, as well as immortality. Xiao also states that the amulet is made to stave off evil.
- One of the most well known love stories in China are the "Butterfly Lovers", two people that weren't allowed to get married and turned into a butterfly couple after death.
- Xiao's signature weapon is the Primordial Jade Winged-Spear. In 1.3 the "Primordial Jade Cutter" was released, the sword of the Primordial Jade weapon series. Since Aether is a sword user, fans enjoy the concept of them having matching weapons.
- These two are also the only weapons of that series so far.
- In Xiao's voiceline "About Baizhu" it's mentioned that Aether wants to try and give medicine to Xiao in order to ease his pain.
- To commemorate Xiao's playable release, the Teyvat Food Notes released a real-life recipe for Almond Tofu and "Sweet Dream." In the blog post's story, Xiao doesn't actually make "Sweet Dream" — the Traveler [Aether] prepared it as a gift to him, and the only difference from regular Almond Tofu is the choice of toppings. Aether arranged the sugar beads so that they are similar to the colour of Xiao's necklace.
- 4NEMO refers to the ship between the two, Kaedehara Kazuha and Venti
- 5WIRL refers to the ship between the two, Kaedehara Kazuha, Venti and Shikanoin Heizou