Wang Xiaoming dragged his injured body home and collapsed onto the sofa. He’d experienced countless misfortunes growing up and assumed he’d seen it all only to realize today that… they were all fireflies to today’s flashlight. Even more frighteningly, he had no idea when Baal would bring out the spotlight.
He tilted his head and saw the computer screen facing him, dark and lifeless. A thought suddenly sprouted in his mind—did Baal cross into reality to take revenge because Wang Xiaoming often beat Baal up in the Dark game series?
…But there were so many Dark players and he couldn’t be the only one to beat up Baal while Baal pummeled everyone else? He quickly rejected that hypothesis. So, in the end, it had been his bad luck.
Wang Xiaoming touched the new wounds on his forehead, which he got from hitting his head on the street lamp, and felt bottomless sorrow well up in his heart.
“Get up.” Baal walked until he stood in front of Wang Xiaoming.
Wang Xiaoming’s back straightened to form a 90-degree angle with the seat of the sofa. He also sat with his chest and thighs at a 90-degree angle. From the side, his upper body was perpendicular to the sofa seat and, because the sofa seat was parallel to the floor, this meant Wang Xiaoming’s upper body was also perpendicular to the floor… in short, he sat up very straight.
“What’s your next move?” Baal sat in the computer chair, rested his elbow on the arm of the chair, and propped his chin on his hand.
Even though he looked kind now, the past day’s worth of bloody lessons had taught Wang Xiaoming the meaning of “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” “I need to think about it.”
“Think?” Baal’s eyebrows twitched.
Wang Xiaoming hurriedly scooted his butt sideways and answered quickly, “I’m done thinking.”
“Oh? Tell me.”
Baal’s eyes were deep, so when he sat facing away from the sun, the shadows under his eyes were extremely noticeable and dark, like a black hole.
“I think—” Wang Xiaoming quietly swallowed, gritted his teeth, and said, “I think I should let it go!” He had just met up with Chang Haitao once and already wreaked havoc in their school. If he persisted, they might end up involving the government or the heavenly courts1天庭 translates to heaven in Chinese, but it is a different kind of heaven than the one depicted in the Bible. In this sentence, Wang Xiaoming is likely referring to the Chinese representation of heaven and not the European heaven. Simply put, the Chinese “heaven” can be thought of as a palace ground in the sky where both major and minor deities reside. For more information, please see: http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos/prb/heavenly.htm .
So for the sake of the country’s stability, he must stay firm… stay firm… stay firm…
Wang Xiaoming’s heart thundered in his chest and he kept his eyes firmly on every expression appearing on Baal’s face.
Baal’s eyebrows furrowed and he said, “Lie down.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming jumped up in an attempt to flee. But the sofa, as if enchanted, rotated itself and blocked his way.
Wang Xiaoming bent his knees and knelt on the seat of the sofa, cradling his head.
While his spells didn’t seem to affect Wang Xiaoming directly, it looked like he could still use them indirectly. Baal nodded in satisfaction and repeated, “Lie down.”
Wang Xiaoming turned around slowly and said quietly, “We can discuss this nicely…”
“I’ll count to three. One…”
The floor gained another parallel line.
Baal’s body slowly caressed Wang Xiaoming’s stiff-as-a-board body.
Wang Xiaoming let out a laugh but immediately shushed when he saw the dangerous look in Baal’s eyes. He continued pretending to be a corpse.
Baal’s hands continued moving.
Pu, Wang Xiaoming’s body shook like a vibrating phone.
“…” Baal pursed his lips.
A washbowl shot out of the bathroom like it was a magic carpet and banged into Wang Xiaoming’s head.
The world fell silent.
Baal put his hands on Wang Xiaoming’s chest and slowly probed at the state of both the Black Star Pearl and his own body.
After a while, the frown between his brows deepened. His body was recovering more slowly than he anticipated and Wang Xiaoming’s feelings toward Chang Haitao had been halved.
“Dammit.” He cursed in a low voice and slapped Wang Xiaoming’s face once.
Wang Xiaoming woke up dizzy.
“I knew humans were weak in body, but I didn’t think your feelings were this fragile too.” Baal’s face communicated anger and disdain. “Is your love like tidal waves? Complete with high tide and low tide?”
“Ah?” Wang Xiaoming’s head was filled with stars and he had absolutely no idea what Baal was talking about.
Baal yanked Wang Xiaoming up by the collar of his shirt and ferociously demanded, “I’m asking, why is your love toward Chang Haitao weakening?”
“Chang Haitao?” Wang Xiaoming finally realized what Baal was saying when their noses almost bumped into each other. “Ah, that, I… I don’t know why it’s going away… uh.”
“Forget it.” Baal suddenly let go.
Just as Wang Xiaoming breathed out a sigh of relief, he heard Baal say, “That human was weak in body and even weaker in mind. He’s a low-grade object; best if you didn’t want him.”
“…” What exactly happened after he got knocked out by his washbowl and before he woke up? Why was Baal… so easy-going?
Baal’s tone shifted and Wang Xiaoming felt a sense of foreboding.
“I need you to fall in love with someone within three days.”
Wang Xiaoming’s heart squeezed in his chest. “Who?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Baal answered nonchalantly. “As long as you love them passionately to the point you’re willing to die for that person.”
This really was killing Wang Xiaoming.
Wang Xiaoming asked cautiously, “May I ask why?”
Wang Xiaoming immediately followed up, “Why?”
Regardless of the reason, this meant he had three more days, which meant he could live for at least 72 hours, 4320 minutes, or 259,200 seconds.
Wang Xiaoming contemplated calculating his life in seconds.
Baal gave out the ultimatum and then ignored him, heading off to play the computer.
Wang Xiaoming looked at Baal’s natural interaction with the computer and felt sure that, even if he was a fallen angel, he was a very modern fallen angel—so different from the angels in movies who could only fly or shout.
Baal suddenly complained in a low voice, “The human internet doesn’t connect to hell?”
“…” As Wang Xiaoming was applying medicine, he looked over with curiosity. You could surf the web in Hell? Like, interwebs? Or did they use spider webs?
Baal turned around suddenly and asked, “What were you playing the first time I saw you?”
Wang Xiaoming’s hand shook and he forced himself to respond calmly, “A game.”
Wang Xiaoming clutched the mouse and hesitated between Dark Epic and Dark Destroyer. From what he knew of Baal, if Baal found out that Wang Xiaoming often tortured Baal’s representation in the game, Baal would probably seek revenge in reality… but he couldn’t avoid opening it…
As if sensing his hesitation, Baal followed up darkly, “I remember the scene from last time.”
Wang Xiaoming heard the sound of the mouse button.
As he looked at the burning Diablo 2 emblem, Wang Xiaoming asked quietly, “Do you have a younger brother?”
Baal sat back in surprise before frowning and asking, “What do you mean?”
“Nothing.” Wang Xiaoming let go of the mouse.
Baal took it over and clicked around in curiosity. While Hell also had games, he had been too busy at first causing trouble between Heaven and Hell and didn’t have time to play. Afterward, he had been afraid of Heaven and Hell causing him trouble and thus had even less time to play. Today was a rare experience for him.
Wang Xiaoming stood beside him and struggled with his own curiosity. In the end, his love for the Dark series overcame his fear and he couldn’t help but ask, “Do you know Diablo?”
“Yes.” Baal concentrated on the screen and answered without a thought.
Wang Xiaoming probed excitedly, “He really is your younger brother?”
“…” Baal slowly turned around.
Wang Xiaoming crashed down to the cold earth and looked at Baal in terror.
After a moment of silence, Baal contemplated in a low voice, “What should I play as?”
“Can’t you choose a profession?”
“Oh, yes. Druid, Amazon, or Assassin are all good choices.”
Wang Xiaoming answered subconsciously, “Mage.”
After a day of running around, Wang Xiaoming fell into a deep sleep that night, almost as if he were in a sacrificial stupor.
In that endless darkness, something kicked his foot, then his thigh, then his waist, and then…
Wang Xiaoming opened his eyes.
Baal’s hand was coming toward his face.
Wang Xiaoming subconsciously raised his hand to block it.
Baal’s eyebrow twitched upward.
Wang Xiaoming’s heart tightened and, just as he thought Baal would throw a fit, Baal withdrew his hand.
“Did you need something?” Wang Xiaoming rubbed his eyes and asked cautiously.
“There’s a stage I can’t clear.”
“There’s a stage I can’t clear.”
Wang Xiaoming sat up, resigned. “Which one? Let me do it.”
“No.” Baal refused cooly.
“I smashed the computer.”
Looking at Wang Xiaoming’s shocked face, the frustration Baal felt due to being stuck cleared away and he felt his mood improve.
“I just wanted to tell you this. Goodnight.” He strolled out and even closed the door politely, leaving Wang Xiaoming to gape dazedly and try to process the sad truth.
The next day, Wang Xiaoming got out of bed early. He took a shower, changed, and then dejectedly cleaned up the ‘body’ of his old friend2Refers to the pieces of the computer..
Since Baal was very environmentally conscious, Wang Xiaoming had a hard time finding even one complete component piece. After spending a long time picking piece after piece up from the ground, he finally had to admit that sweeping would have been more effective.
Baal squinted as he swept and then suddenly asked, “When are you buying a new one?”
Wang Xiaoming’s hands shook as they held onto the broom. Honestly, someone like Baal should possess someone like billionaire Bill Gates if he had to possess anyone. Then he could smash things to his heart’s content. If smashing computers didn’t satisfy him, Baal could go smash the computer factory. So why did Baal have to match up with a lowly mortal like him?
“Probably not for a while.” Wang Xiaoming gave a veiled response.
“Why?” Baal asked unhappily. After the anger passed, he felt regret at not clearing the stage.
“Because—” Wang Xiaoming slowly lifted the dustpan, looked at the shards in it, and answered with a shaky voice, “—before they were destroyed, they had value.”
Baal suddenly realized something… “You’re poor?”
Wang Xiaoming answered a bit self-consciously, “I’m not very rich.”
Baal examined him as if seeing him for the first time.
“Actually, I’m looking for an internship.” Wang Xiaoming felt uneasy under the gaze and couldn’t help but shout in a loud voice, “But I can earn money tutoring!”
Baal replied indifferently, “Oh?”
Even though he didn’t say anything, Wang Xiaoming could see from Baal’s gaze that he, Wang Xiaoming, had been firmly labeled as a pauper.
- 1天庭 translates to heaven in Chinese, but it is a different kind of heaven than the one depicted in the Bible. In this sentence, Wang Xiaoming is likely referring to the Chinese representation of heaven and not the European heaven. Simply put, the Chinese “heaven” can be thought of as a palace ground in the sky where both major and minor deities reside. For more information, please see: http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/cosmos/prb/heavenly.htm
- 2Refers to the pieces of the computer.