God decreed that some people had to go to Hell after their death, which was why there was a path between the Mortal Realm and Hell.
But God also decreed that Hell’s citizens couldn’t just go to the Mortal Realm as they pleased, which was why that path was a one-way street.
If Baal wanted to bring Wang Xiaoming back to the Mortal Realm, he had two options.
One was Noah’s Ark.
Two was Noah’s Ark—and then through the Kindred Realm.
The function of Noah’s Ark didn’t need further explanation. It only went to the Mortal Realm once a year and the stay was very limited. Truthfully, that wasn’t the only way to the Mortal Realm.
Since Cain had been a human first, he still had many human relatives despite becoming a vampire. In order to make it easy for him to visit his relatives, and more importantly in order to avoid having Cain discard all of his human emotions, God made a special space tunnel between the Kindred Realm and the Mortal Realm.
That was also why humans had lots of legends about the Kindred.
It was because the Kindred could freely travel between the two realms and many Kindred members actually made their home in the Mortal Realm.
Baal chose the second option.
Wang Xiaoming watched as Baal strode away from the club, just like that, and asked despite himself, “Don’t we need to say goodbye to Mr. Mammon?” He still remembered Mammon’s deathly pale face as the guy had disappeared.
“If he suffers from some terminal illness, I’ll be delighted to say goodbye to him.”
Wang Xiaoming asked in surprise, “Can fallen angels become terminally ill?” He had assumed that fallen angels were immortal and would never get sick or suffer.
“No,” Baal pursed his lips unhappily, “which is why I won’t say goodbye to him.”
“Your answer breaks my heart.” Mammon flew down from the top of the club and smoothly landed in front of them. “I made the trip just to say goodbye to you.”
Baal responded with a bitter laugh, “And to remind me of my debt?”
“Though you’ve had a colorful past, you’ve never broken a promise. So in my files, you have an A+ credit rating and I am not worried at all.”
Baal side-eyed him and asked, “Goal?” No matter what, even if Mammon could bring himself to say that bullshit about saying goodbyes, Baal couldn’t bring himself to listen.
“I’m just here to make sure of the timing of the deal between us and the Titans,” Mammon smiled and answered. “It’ll take some time to prepare the goods.”
Baal scoffed, “And this is not a reminder of debt?”
“I call it ‘communicating’. Truth to be told, I’m here to give you a friendly reminder. It’ll be a bit more than half a year before Noah’s Ark returns to the Mortal Realm. That’s more than enough time for you to play tourist with the Titan Clan and…” Mammon smiled suggestively, “… honeymoon.”
Baal dashed his hopes. “I’ve decided to go through the Kindred Realm.”
“The Sacrificial Night of Fresh Blood, which happens once every three hundred years in the Kindred Realm, is about to start. I think it’s not the best time to be asking for passage right now.”
Wang Xiaoming asked curiously, “What is the Sacrificial Night of Fresh Blood?”
“Each of the major clans chooses Kindreds from their clan with the most potential to participate in the challenge; the victor gets to visit the Gazing Palace on Bloodnight Mountain and have their blood exchanged personally by a third generation Elder,” Mammon answered. “That’s the quickest way for a Kindred to advance.”
Wang Xiaoming said in realization, “So it’s like an upgraded monster fight?”
Mammon chuckled and then turned to face Baal. “This is my sincerest suggestion.”
Baal responded, “Your words are truthful only when it comes to money.”
“I will, occasionally, raise or lower the price.” Mammon’s right hand smoothed out his left sleeve. “Believe me. As a business partner, I won’t do anything, for the time being, that would harm you. Even if you made me drink a cup of alcohol that had been infused with a cockroach.” When he spoke, it was in a gentle and friendly tone, without a hint of displeasure—provided they ignored the sleeve that his fingers gripped so tightly.
Baal spat out two words without hesitation, “No need.”
Mammon wasn’t surprised by his answer. He spread his hands and said, “If that’s the case, then I wish you smooth travels.”
Baal gave him a haughty look and then picked up Wang Xiaoming, soaring into the inky-black sky.
Wang Xiaoming lowered his head and watched as Mammon’s figure shrank down to a black speck and then vanished. Then he watched as the brightly lit-up city became a flat photo of lights. He carefully raised his head and said, “I think he meant well.”
Baal slowed down his flying. “Hmph, he just wants me to finish the deal sooner.”
“Then he lied to you just now?” Wang Xiaoming remarked in shock. As expected from an important devil lord in Hell, even lies sounded like they could be true.
Baal answered, “He was telling the truth.”
“Because even if I believe it, I won’t tell him.” At the thought of Mammon’s satisfied smile, Baal wanted to hit someone. There were so many devil lords in Hell. Aside from Lucifer, the one that Baal liked the least was Mammon. Because Mammon’s smile always made Baal feel like his entire being was being judged and labeled with a price.
Wang Xiaoming blinked. “That sounds like something an elementary school student would say.”
“Wang Xiaoming.” Baal’s chilly voice sounded next to Wang Xiaoming’s ear.
Only then did Wang Xiaoming discover that the distance between the two of them was less than three centimeters. If it weren’t for the strong wind, he would be able to practically feel Baal’s breath on his chin.
“Hmm?” He became inexplicably nervous.
“I can let go at any time,” Baal warned threateningly.
“But you just exerted a lot of effort to revive me.”
Baal had nothing.
About three minutes later, just when Wang Xiaoming thought the silence would last the entire way, Baal suddenly spoke up. Though to Wang Xiaoming’s ears, Baal’s words sounded a bit insincere with their threats.
“I really, really will let go.”
Wang Xiaoming contemplated and thought he should be more agreeable. So he nodded, “I believe you.”
Wang Xiaoming suddenly felt the flying speed increase and the arm that encircled his waist got tighter and tighter. But what confused Wang Xiaoming the most was that he seemed to feel anger coming from Baal once again.
Noah’s Ark wasn’t doing so well business-wise. The shake-ups in the Mortal Realm had impacted businesses in various realms, including the hotel’s occupancy rate.
But ever since Isefel took Shi Feixia to look at his personal vault, Shi Feixia never once worried about how well the business was doing. In his eyes, Noah’s Ark could basically become a side job. If he was interested, he could do it. If he wasn’t interested, he could say the owners had good news1The implication is usually a joyful event like a birth, marriage, or a child getting into university. and were taking a year-long break.
Layton had asked, curious, which kind of happy news it was.
Shi Feixia had answered that it was the same kind as “pleasure” and also “displeasure.”2A play on words as the character for “good news” can also be interpreted as “happiness/pleasure.”
Simply put, if he was really happy, they wouldn’t be open for business. If he was really unhappy, then of course they wouldn’t be open for business. In summary, Noah’s Ark would only be open for visitors when he was feeling calm and neither happy nor upset.
Layton had asked again, “When would you be feeling calm and neither happy nor upset?”
“When I’m soaking up the sun.” Shi Feixia had been looking right at the pitchblack sky when he answered with a longing expression.
“…” Layton had to start wondering if he needed to seek out the Dwarf King and use that connection to help find a permanent position in the Dwarf Realm since it looked like Noah’s Ark wouldn’t be open for too long.
That was why when Baal and Wang Xiaoming first arrived at Noah’s Ark, Layton’s gut reaction was—shut the door.
The instant they got close to Noah’s Ark, Wang Xiaoming felt a strong sense of repulsion, as if something were about to bounce him away.
Baal immediately put up a protective shield of air.
The pressure left Wang Xiaoming and he exhaled in relief, “Is this Noah’s Ark?”
Baal asked curiously, “What does Noah’s Ark look like to you?”
“A really, really tall residential building in a rectangular boat.” Wang Xiaoming answered and then asked in confusion, “You can’t see it?”
“Noah’s Ark has no definitive appearance, and it looks different according to different people’s different interpretations.” It was Layton who explained. It only took him an instant to figure out who the arrivals were and, in the time it took for them to break through the barrier and land, Layton had rapidly found a bunch of red roses to welcome their arrival.
“Great Lord Baal, your arrival brings glory to Noah’s Ark.” He presented the red roses.
Baal squinted his eyes and the red roses turned into flying petals.
“…” Layton thought, “Does that count as him accepting it?”
Wang Xiaoming examined Layton curiously. Because there had been a lot of people the last time and Shi Feixia had been too attention-grabbing, he had practically ignored this dwarf with a fairly old face but petite body.
Layton watched as Wang Xiaoming’s hand slowly reached toward his right cheek and then glanced at Baal’s darkening expression. He instantly took two steps back and bowed. “Please follow me.”
Only then did Wang Xiaoming seem to realize what he had done and he smiled awkwardly. “I’m sorry. I just thought that you looked really cute so I couldn’t resist…”
You actually didn’t have to explain.
Layton felt the murderous gaze from Baal and wept a river inside his heart.
Baal asked suddenly, “Where’s Isefel?”
Layton looked at the time and answered, “He’s usually swimming at this time.”
Baal asked, “Isn’t he no longer cold and distant?” Swimming was the task God assigned Isefel to make him feel emotions.
Layton answered him meaningfully, “It’s because he’s no longer cold and distant that he needs to swim more and more frequently.”
Wang Xiaoming agreed, “Actually, swimming does sound like something people would enjoy.”
Baal seemed to get the true meaning of swimming and gave Wang Xiaoming a suggestive smile, “Do you like swimming too?”
“Not at all.” Wang Xiaoming answered without hesitation.
Baal really had no response. Who was it that just said swimming seemed like something people would enjoy?
Wang Xiaoming laughed self-consciously, “I just wanted to join the discussion.”
Baal asked again, “How long does he usually swim for?”
Layton answered, “According to the amount of food that Shi Feixia consumed today for lunch, it will probably take a while.”
Wang Xiaoming asked in confusion, “What does Isefel’s swimming time have to do with Shi Feixia’s food consumption?”
Baal and Layton, “…”
“Because they are in the middle of a swimming competition.” Gin suddenly appeared on the steps of the second floor staircase. His golden hair glinted under the light and was especially dazzling.
Wang Xiaoming kindly told him, “You didn’t pull up the zipper on your pants and the shirt’s peeking through.”
Gin turned around and quickly fixed his shirt and the zipper, then turned around as if nothing had happened. “Sorry, I was just swimming so…” He lifted his eyebrow to suggest the second half of the sentence.
Wang Xiaoming praised, “As expected from Noah’s Ark. So many swimming pools.”
Layton muttered, “Noah’s Ark only has one swimming pool.”
Wang Xiaoming’s expression went from confusion to slight understanding to full understanding.
Layton remarked to himself, “He finally understood.”
“That swimming pool must be huge so that so many people can swim together!” Wang Xiaoming complimented once again.
Baal, Gin, and Layton, “…”
- 1The implication is usually a joyful event like a birth, marriage, or a child getting into university.
- 2A play on words as the character for “good news” can also be interpreted as “happiness/pleasure.”