Baal never thought that one day he’d have to pretend to be a Kindred to get into the Kindred Realm. Luckily, he had always been busy between Heaven and Hell, and after he had turned into a spirit, he mostly spent his time in Genesis or the Mortal Realm. This meant most Kindreds had not seen him. Edwin only knew about him because he had kept a constant eye on Winston.
Most importantly, his looks and temperament seemed very close to that of a Kindred’s, enough to pass a fish eye for a pearl… for a pearl to pretend to be a fish eye.
—Of course, he would never admit that himself.
Wang Xiaoming sat in the car and turned around to look at Baal, who was wearing a black swallow-tailed suit and a gentleman’s hat and was holding an ancient wooden staff in his hands. He asked nervously, “Will we be discovered?” Why did he keep thinking that Baal’s wings would reveal themselves at any moment? “What happens if I don’t act well enough?”
Because of the special air around Bloodnight Mountain, aside from God’s powers, every other ability became ineffective. Baal’s space was among those, so if Wang Xiaoming wanted to go into the Gazing Palace, he had to go in on his own two legs.
“Many Kindreds will keep Blood Slaves. McAvery is not an exception. Keep up the appropriate fear and it’ll help you get into character.” Edwin stood outside the carriage and held a dark brown and white checkered scarf. “It’s colder in the Kindred Realm than the Mortal Realm. Wear something more.”
“Thank you.” Wang Xiaoming accepted the scarf with both hands.
Baal glanced at it and, though he was a bit unhappy, he resisted the urge to toss it back at Edwin’s face.
“What you wanted.” Edwin handed over a box with an uncontrollable smile on his lips.
Baal accepted the box and tossed it inside the space without even looking at it.
“Then, I wish you all a smooth journey.” Edwin prepared to shut the door, still smiling.
Wang Xiaoming suddenly pressed a hand against the door. “Xiang Wenjie…”
“I’ll take good care of him.” Edwin smiled amiably.
“Please,” Wang Xiaoming requested sincerely.
“Relax.” Edwin finally shut the door.
It was midnight—the time when the path between the Kindred Realm and the Mortal Realm opened.
The sky was dark and oppressive.
Wang Xiaoming raised his head and glanced at the castle.
The soaring castle seemed like a proud giant, darker than the night, broad-chested and horrifying.
“What is it?” Baal snapped his finger and a car with a cauldron of bats attached to it began to move slowly.
“I keep feeling like the castle seems a bit too dark. Edwin and Mario must be lonely staying there.” Wang Xiaoming’s body moved instinctively closer to Baal’s.
Baal reached out and pulled him into his arms.
“But now there’s Winston and Xiang Wenjie. It must be better, right?” Wang Xiaoming mused optimistically.
Baal didn’t refute him.
The fog in front of them became denser and denser, a cloud of darkness like a stormcloud.
Wang Xiaoming watched as the car slowly forayed into the dense fog and his tension rose along with the car’s journey. A thin layer of sweat started to coat the hand that was holding Baal’s.
“What are you afraid of?” Baal frowned. The airplane had flown higher than the clouds and Wang Xiaoming hadn’t been this nervous.
Wang Xiaoming turned around in worry, both eyebrows bunched together as if they were merging into one. “I’m afraid of being a burden.”
Baal demanded in vexation, “Aside from Cain, who’s somewhat useful out of all the Kindred, who else could be a problem?”
“What if it is Cain?”
“He never leaves the Gazing Palace,” Baal answered carelessly. “Plus, he rarely fights. Even when the second and third generations fought the war, he never bothered to stop them.”
“The war between the second and third generations?” Wang Xiaoming’s face displayed his curiosity.
Baal noticed that he had distracted Wang Xiaoming and continued explaining, “In order to fight for power.”
“But aren’t Kindreds very firm about their lineage and hierarchy?” As humans ignored generation hierarchy more and more, the Kindred’s insistence on the hierarchy was practically a stubbornness that lasted for eternity.
“The third generation is an outlier. Their powers are more perfect than the second generation’s.“ Baal continued, “Plus their numbers are four times more than the second generation’s.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming felt disappointed in the Kindred. Even Gin swimming in faraway Noah’s Ark wasn’t spared due to him being a Kindred.
As if sensing his disappointment, Baal explained on behalf of a Noah’s Ark resident, which was a rare occurrence, “Gin started off as neutral. He only joined the war after being caught up in trouble.”
“Like self-defense?” If that was the case, then he was certainly not to blame.
“Masturbate1The words for self-defense and maturbation sound the same in Mandarin Chinese.?” Baal was shocked.
Four eyes stared at each other.
A long moment later.
Baal coughed once, “Probably.” After all, Noah’s Ark residents wouldn’t act any different whether they had any sense of shame or not. Even if… they masturbated to the point of wanting to join a war, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration.
Wang Xiaoming suddenly asked, “Let’s go over our lines once again?”
“Our identities.” Wang Xiaoming silently recited them to himself once and then spoke up, “You’re Edward Louis McAvery, a sixth generation Kindred. You used to be a wandering artist and gained Edwin’s favor, which is how you joined the McAvery clan.”
“…” Baal reserved the right to protest against suddenly becoming a wandering artist.
Wang Xiaoming continued, “I am a student from China, come to tour France. My name is… Wang Xiaoming. How come I don’t have to change my name?”
Baal answered, “Because they won’t go to China to investigate your records.”
Wang Xiaoming still felt uneasy. “Do the Kindred know any spells to curse people? Something that only requires knowing the other party’s name?”
“If they did, they’d be ruling over the Nine Realms from a long time ago.”
“That’s great then.” Wang Xiaoming relaxed slightly and then wondered, “Wait, how did we meet? Did we meet at the Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower?”
“Arc de Triomphe.”
“… Eiffel Tower.”
“Up or down?”
“…” Baal took a deep breath. “Let’s do down.”
“What month? What day?”
“Morning!” The vein on Baal’s forehead began throbbing.
“…” Wang Xiaoming asked in confusion, “What were we doing at five in the morning by the Eiffel Tower?”
“Playing tourist.” Baal’s voice almost sounded like it was being squeezed through gritted teeth. “Why else do you think I’d choose you?”
Wang Xiaoming asked, “Didn’t you say that Lucifer arranged it?”
“No matter how bored Lucifer is, he’ll never be bored enough to arrange for a sixth generation to find a Blood Slave.”
Wang Xiaoming scratched his scalp with an embarrassed chuckle. “The details got jumbled in my mind.”
Baal replied, “You don’t have to say anything, just walk with me.”
“If someone asks me questions?” Wang Xiaoming was quite worried.
“Either pretend he’s air or pretend you’re air.”
The Kindred Realm was an outlier among the Nine Realms because it was even more bizarre than Hell.
Even Hell had fully adopted high technology, but the Kindred still kept their elegant and ancient style.
There were only carriages on the streets, pulled by horses, bats, or even wolves. There was nothing that involved an engine or a steering wheel. The tallest building had no more than five stories. They were either square or circular and had no combinations of the two, never mind those strange shapes that required imagination. Architects were the most abundant but also the ones with the least prospects for advancement. The only thing they could do was to decide the color of the houses.
In summary, the Kindred Realm appeared to be a traditional and conservative ancient kingdom on the outside.
—Just on the outside.
Because after stepping foot inside this ancient land, all assumptions would be overthrown.
The concentrated stench of blood on the street would make every outsider want to puke and some might even imagine that a heart-stopping murder or gang war had just happened. But the truth was that it was simply the fragrance of the alcohol from the bars. The fresher and purer the blood, the more customers found it attractive. So bar owners loved to open the doors and windows to their kitchens during off-hours and then use a small flame to slowly stew the fresh blood until the guests, who couldn’t resist temptation, crawled or sprinted inside.
There were three total layers to the Kindred Realm.
In the middle was the holy ground of the Kindred—Bloodnight Mountain. That was the layer only an Ancient could enter. Even Elders needed the permission of an Ancient. The only exception was during the Sacrificial Night of Fresh Blood, when many of the chosen Kindred members would be promoted there.
The ring outside was called the Gloom City. Those that lived there were permanent residents of the Kindred Realm. Outsiders had to be invited in by one of the city residents and could only enter after being interrogated.
The outermost layer was the Thirteen Co-City, which was operated jointly by thirteen clans. The merchants from various realms, tourists, and the Kindred who resided in the Mortal Realm stayed there when they returned. It was both the most complicated but also the most bustling place.
When Wang Xiaoming and Baal arrived at the Thirteen Co-City, it was loud and busy.
Many bars hung various types of raw meat and the fresh blood kept dripping, which encouraged a constant flow of Kindreds to wander into their stores.
Wang Xiaoming got out of the car and almost puked at first sight.
“Those are just animal meat.” Baal explained, “Only a high-ranking Kindred member that is either sixth generation or higher can keep Blood Slaves to provide fresh blood for themselves. But they can’t eat them nor can they randomly put them to death.”
Wang Xiaoming rubbed his stomach and almost failed to stand on his wobbly legs. “I, I don’t want to be a Kindred anymore.”
“The lower rank the Kindred member is, the more they like fresh blood and raw meat. Second generation Kindreds are not affected by them at all,” Baal explained. Truthfully, those flesh and blood were severely influencing his own appetite and he couldn’t bear to look at them.
Wang Xiaoming supported himself on Baal’s hand and slowly straightened. He tried very hard not to look at either side of the street. “Then we need to leave quickly.”
“I have to go register first,” Baal pursed his lips unhappily, “to get a pass to attend the Sacrificial Night of Fresh Blood.”
“Will Edwin’s letter of recommendation be useful?”
“If not, I’ll force my way in.” If he hadn’t been worried about Wang Xiaoming getting hurt accidentally during that process, he’d much prefer going in this way.
Baal suddenly lowered his head and asked, “You ready?”
“We’re about to go in.” Baal gripped his hand.
He was very worried about him, right?
Wang Xiaoming looked up at him.
Because he worried about him dying, he sent him to the Kindred Realm.
Because he worried that he’d get hurt during the challenges, he had to pretend to be a Kindred and come with him.
Because he worried about him not being able to get used to the environment, he kept comforting him.
Given his straightforward and impulsive personality, Baal must feel like puking right now.
As Wang Xiaoming thought more and more, it was like his heart became stuffed with all kinds of sweet candies and even the gore alongside the street didn’t seem that horrifying anymore.
He gently gripped Baal’s hand in return and calmly nodded. “Mmhmm!”
- 1The words for self-defense and maturbation sound the same in Mandarin Chinese.