The tiger silently looked at Wang Xiaoming’s self-conscious face, twitched its tail, and then suddenly stood up, turned around, and walked deeper into the forest.
“Is it disappointed in my intelligence?” Wang Xiaoming missed it.
Baal sighed, “It’s not the one disappointed. That’s me.”
“Huh?” Wang Xiaoming was about to ask something but Baal held him and walked after the tiger.
For every five or six meters that the tiger walked, it would stop and see whether they were following or not.
Wang Xiaoming looked at its energetic figure and suddenly felt like he was a parent.
“What is it?” Baal bent down and saw Wang Xiaoming pinch his own face forcefully.
He’d rather die than admit that.
Wang Xiaoming chuckled awkwardly, “I’m testing out the elasticity of my skin.”
Baal couldn’t help but gently flick Wang Xiaoming’s face with his own hand.
Wang Xiaoming, “…”
Baal declared like an expert reaching a decision, “Not enough bounce.”
Wang Xiaoming, “…”
The forest around them became increasingly sparse and there were hints of water reflecting light ahead.
The tiger suddenly rushed forward and disappeared into the grass.
Wang Xiaoming’s footsteps paused.
“What is it now?” Baal asked.
“There must be a big hole up ahead, right?” Otherwise it wouldn’t have vanished this quickly.
Baal answered, “If there were a big hole, it’d cry out in pain.”
“Maybe it passed out from the fall.” Wang Xiaoming walked forward carefully and after about two or three meters, he spotted the tiger lying down on the grass and constantly licking its paws.
Wang Xiaoming asked in confusion, “Why did it stop halfway to lick its paws?”
Baal answered, “Because it’s not a vegetarian.”
Wang Xiaoming, “…”
The tiger finished licking its paws and then stood up again, walking forward like a mighty hunter.
The light reflecting off water slowly revealed its source. There was a giant lake, so big that the other shore was so far away it only appeared as a thick black line. In the middle of the lake was an elevated little dirt hill—or maybe it could be called an island. There was one tree on the island.
From Wang Xiaoming’s point of view, that tree was not normal because it actually looked identical to the trees in the Mortal Realm! After seeing so many of those translucent green and blue trees, which seemed like jewels, he actually found it strange to see a normal peach tree in full bloom.
The tiger stood by the bank and twitched its tail. Its two round eyes looked in the direction of the tree and then turned around to give Wang Xiaoming a pleading look.
Wang Xiaoming asked, “You want to go there?”
The tiger continued to twitch its tail.
“But you’re too large.” Wang Xiaoming was very worried that once the tiger stood on there, the tiny hill would become a submarine.
The tiger stubbornly circled Wang Xiaoming and then continued mewing at the tree.
Wang Xiaoming turned around to look at Baal.
Baal crossed his arms. “According to my knowledge, tigers can swim.”
Wang Xiaoming blinked. “Are you talking about tigers in the Mortal Realm or the tigers here?”
A question mark floated up in Baal’s mind—tigers cared about which realm they were in?
In response to Wang Xiaoming’s puzzled gaze, he chose to demonstrate using the simplest method possible—he simply kicked the tiger into the lake.
Wang Xiaoming was shocked and was about to cry out in surprise when he saw the tiger splash around a few times and then slowly swim toward the island.
“It definitely is a real tiger,” Wang Xiaoming concluded and scratched his head. “So what do we do now?”
Baal hugged Wang Xiaoming as he unfurled his wings and whooshed into the sky.
Though this wasn’t Wang Xiaoming’s first time flying in the sky, he was still so nervous that his toes curled up tightly and he gripped Baal tightly with both hands.
Baal was much faster than the tiger.
By the time the tiger huffed and puffed its way to the shore, Baal had already flown several times around the little island.
“I, I can’t anymore…” Wang Xiaoming was dizzy because of Baal’s actions.
Only then did Baal stop despite not being entirely satisfied.
They watched as the tiger slowly crawled onto the island and curled all four limbs up miserably underneath the tree. It shook its fur out cautiously and then suddenly leapt upward!
Its paw barely reached two-sevenths of the way up the trunk and was quite a distance away from the tree branch—in terms of size, this peach tree was practically as tall as a pine tree.
Wang Xiaoming noticed it looking longingly up the tree and involuntarily glanced over.
He spotted white fruits about the size of longans between each of the peach blossoms. There weren’t that many of them, only about ten or so.
“You want this?” Wang Xiaoming instructed Baal to fly lower and then casually picked one of the white fruits.
The tiger’s eyes immediately lit up, like two little lightbulbs in tiny flashlights, and it looked up at him with shiny eyes.
Wang Xiaoming put the fruit underneath his nose and sniffed. “You sure this is edible?”
The tiger noticed that Wang Xiaoming still hadn’t tossed the fruit down and couldn’t help but let out a meow.
“Alright.” Wang Xiaoming tossed it.
The tiger opened its mouth wide and caught it.
Wang Xiaoming watched as it swallowed without chewing and felt befuddled. What fun was it to eat like this?
The tiger kept looking hungrily at the tree.
“Want more?” Wang Xiaoming reached out a hand to pick the fruit.
But perhaps the tiger scorned how slow Wang Xiaoming was, because it opened its mouth and made another urging sound. But it was that sound that scared Wang Xiaoming’s wrist into shaking and pulling off a peach blossom instead. Because the sound the tiger had made was—
“Baal, did you hear that?” Wang Xiaoming asked, gulping.
Compared to his shock, Baal was calmer. “Hn.”
“So what is it?” Did the animal kingdom also have the so-called vocal mimicry, allowing it to imitate all kinds of sounds?
Baal answered, “It’s modeled on a tiger for sure.”
“But it can sound like a cat… “ Wang Xiaoming paused and then said, “It can also sound like a dog.” This wasn’t just a simple talent anymore, right?
Baal’s gaze swept across the fruit. “Perhaps, it’s because of these fruits.”
The tiger barked a few times below them.
Wang Xiaoming asked, “You mean, it can make the sounds of other animals because of eating this kind of fruit?”
“Hmm.” Baal suddenly became interested. “Try tossing another one.”
Wang Xiaoming asked worriedly, “What if there are side effects?” He couldn’t bear to do it, seeing the complete trust in the tiger’s eyes.
Baal said disinterestedly, “It’s the one who wants to eat it after all.”
“Maybe it’s missing that kind of nutrient in its body.” When a person’s curiosity got to a certain level, intelligence and persuasiveness would instantly rise to new heights. That was happening to Baal right now.
Wang Xiaoming looked into the tiger’s expectant eyes and could only pick another fruit and toss it down.
This time, the tiger ate it more carefully and moved its jaws a few times.
Wang Xiaoming waited nervously for it to open its mouth, but the tiger seemed to have eaten and drunken its fill and simply lay down to lick its paws.
“…” What was so good about licking paws?!
The question flashed across Baal’s and Wang Xiaoming’s minds at the same time.
Baal held Wang Xiaoming with one arm and then picked a fruit with his other hand. Then he tossed it straight at the tiger’s head.
The fruit bounced once on the tiger’s head and then rolled off it, falling into the lake.
The tiger raised its head in confusion and looked at him.
Baal lifted an eyebrow at the tiger in a challenge.
The tiger hurriedly wagged its tail.
As the king of the forest, it really had no pride!
Baal’s face was filled with disdain.
As if sensing that disdain, the tiger lazily stood up, looked at the fruit, and then mewed again.
Wang Xiaoming exhaled in relief, “It probably uses the three different sounds to indicate different emotions.”
There was still some doubt in Baal’s eyes.
The tiger watched as Baal and Wang Xiaoming looked at it without speaking a word and then couldn’t help but cry out again, “Awoo!”
Wang Xiaoming and Baal, “…”
Baal squinted his eyes. “I hypothesize that what happened must be… someone fed the tiger a fruit once, which gave it the ability to meow like a cat. After that, the tiger couldn’t forget the taste and really wanted another one, so it intentionally tried to please us so that it could taste the fruit again.”
Wang Xiaoming thought very hard and said, “I think that’s reasonable.”
“Right now, I really want to know…” Baal frowned. “Did that Kindred pass or not?”
“Nope!” Gin casually created a mud-yellow cocktail and placed it in front of Shi Feixia.
Shi Feixia frowned in disgust. “Your tastes are getting further and further away from the realm of human understanding”
“Great artists always have to endure the sarcasm and mockery of fools, but time will give them the last laugh.”
Shi Feixia took one sip hesitantly and then spat it out into a napkin, saying, “I understand why they would be the last ones laughing.”
“Because those who mocked or teased them would have all been poisoned.” That taste was more murderous than the world’s strongest poison.
Gin took a small sip directly from the bottle and then poured everything out expressionlessly. “Where was I?”
“A great artist?” Shi Feixia pushed the wineglass toward Gin.
Gin got rid of the evidence and then said, as if nothing had happened, “Oh, I was just talking about the Sacrificial Night of Fresh Blood.”
“You participated but didn’t pass.”
Gin said angrily, “Can you believe it?! There were eleven contestants left in the Forest of Shattered Illusions, but I… a great third generation Kindred was actually the only one that got eliminated!”
“Maybe it’s because you were too high-ranked?” Shi Feixia offered a rare comfort. “So you didn’t qualify for promotion?”
“But Singh and Leslie both passed!” That was what made him angry. They were all Kindred Elders. Three walked in, two passed… His pride tumbled to the bottom of Hell’s Blood Waterfall!
Because of that, he had fled to the Mortal Realm and hid for a year, but the facts proved that the Kindred had a much better memory than he had imagined. He went back after a year, only to realize that his comrades “cared” for him just as warmly!
Every time he thought of this, Gin felt the anger rise up from nowhere. The most frustrating part was that he still didn’t know what had gone wrong.
“In order to gain the forest’s approval, I even went and fed the tiger,” he declared in an injured voice.
“Why did you feed the tiger?” Shi Feixia was utterly confused.
“Isn’t it the king of the forest?” He recalled a saying—“capture the king and win the game”?
“…” Shi Feixia thought for a moment and then said, “Perhaps you fed it the wrong thing.”
Gin frowned and replied, “Can’t be? I thought it was quite happy while eating.”
Shi Feixia asked, “How do you know?”
“It swallowed it in one gulp.” Gin even tilted his head and demonstrated the action.
“I only swallow medicine in one gulp,” Shi Feixia said slowly.