In Wang Xiaoming’s eyes, that was just a box that seemed to be made of charcoal. It was pitchblack everywhere with marks on it. There was a bat carved into the top and its two eyes seemed to glint with a red light.
“There’s blood coming out of it.” Wang Xiaoming pointed in shock at the fresh blood that seemed to spill out from the engraved bat design.
“Uh, apologies, it dripped.” The bar owner set down the wine glass, took out a dishcloth, wiped the glass, and then wiped his own mouth. “It’s a shame to not drink this fresh duck blood. Since we’ve added in preservatives, we can’t use it to make duck blood vermicelli soup.”
Baal and the others, “…”
Wang Xiaoming asked in surprise, “The Kindred have duck blood vermicelli soup too?”
The bar owner answered with a smile, “Any good food that involves blood is a dish Kindreds favor.”
Daniel watched as the two dragged the topic further and further away from the original intent. He couldn’t resist pulling the box into his hands and saying as he opened the cover, “Let’s begin then.”
Wang Xiaoming watched curiously as he took out an even smaller box from the black box.
The other Kindreds immediately brought over a table.
Daniel set the box down on the table and it seemed like several pages of paper were unfolded, layer by layer, until the pages spread out.
Until finally, it became a giant but thin board that was about a meter wide and a centimeter thick. The board was white as snow and smooth as glass and reflected the flickering candlelight and the various expressions on the audience’s faces.
Wang Xiaoming became nervous. This kind of chess was clearly beyond his comprehension.
Daniel put his palm against the thin board.
The board lit up like a TV screen. A 3D virtual model appeared above the board, but the image was extremely chaotic and kept changing between different possibilities.
Wang Xiaoming stared intently and identified that several of the images were of the bottom of an ocean, the desert, the starry sky, or a multitude of highways that spanned across a wide area…
“Which one do you choose?” Daniel looked at Baal cheerfully, his eyes filled with pride and satisfaction. He didn’t have to give a soliloquy for it to be obvious that this was his strong suit.
Baal had absolutely no idea what he was asking and answered coolly, “Whichever.”
“The dessert then.” Daniel let go and the model settled into an area of yellow dust that rose and fell. Each grain of sand rolled down the sand dune and looked extremely real.
Just looking at it made Wang Xiaoming feel like gusts of hot wind were brushing against his cheek.
Do you know how?
He asked Baal with his eyes.
Baal pursed his lips.
That meant no.
Wang Xiaoming gulped nervously and suddenly heard the sound of his middle school Chinese teacher reading from a text—
“To die before victory makes the heroes throughout history weep with regret…”1A line from a poem by Du Fu mourning the loss of famous military tactician Zhu Geliang of illness during his sixth war campaign, before he achieved his dream of unifying the country.
Now that he thought about it, ancient poems were either written to warn future generations or to complain about life. Rarely were there joyous and celebratory ones… The only thing he could manage to dredge up was “bidding the year goodbye with the sound of firecrackers.” But based on Daniel’s expression, he probably didn’t just want to say goodbye to them for a year but rather forever.
Daniel lifted a finger and made a slight hooking motion. A bat burst through the air and flapped its wings until it landed on his finger. “Where is your chess piece?”
Wang Xiaoming asked in shock, “A bat is the chess piece?”
Daniel turned the cover of the Blood Chess box over for him to see. “What did you think?”
Wang Xiaoming’s head didn’t move, but his eyes moved in Baal’s direction. Could fallen angels summon bats? If not, maybe an eagle? They both had similar wings and could probably sense each other, right?
He prayed silently.
If Baal knew what Wang Xiaoming had been thinking, he wouldn’t have reached out a hand quite so calmly.
Everyone focused on him.
Bats could be separated into high or low ranks. Higher ranked Kindred wouldn’t necessarily summon a bat that was a higher rank than something a lower ranked Kindred could summon. Though that was a rare occurrence, it wasn’t completely out of the question.
They saw how arrogantly Baal was behaving and couldn’t help but suspect Baal of doing that.
But what Baal did next made them drop and crush their eyeglasses—even those left at home.
Because he reached out and grabbed the bat in Daniel’s hand. “I’ll use this one.”
Wang Xiaoming and the other Kindreds, “…”
The bat in his hand became agitated and nervous, as if it would turn around and bite Baal at any moment.
Baal lifted an eyebrow in displeasure and applied more pressure with his hand.
Maybe it was because it sensed which way the wind was blowing, but the bat settled down a bit.
Daniel paused briefly in surprise and then laughed, “Looks like you’re not completely ignorant about Blood Chess.”
Baal looked at him without any changes in his expression.
“A fierce bat can definitely change the way the battle goes. Very well, in order for you to acknowledge your defeat, I’ll let you borrow it.” Daniel viewed Baal stealing his bat as a sign of Baal’s weakness. He curled his finger again and summoned a second bat. “But a bat that doesn’t belong to you might not be as easy to use.” He smiled a meaningful smile.
“Things that don’t have value shouldn’t exist.” Baal gave the bat in his hand a sideways glance.
The bat trembled slightly.
Looked like it was a high-level bat and could understand what he said. Baal was slightly surprised.
Daniel casually set his own bat in the corner closest to himself and asked, “Where do you want to start?”
Baal looked at the sand-filled chessboard and silently rotated it. Then he shoved Daniel’s bat aside and put his own where that bat had been.
“…” Daniel struggled to swallow the anger that arose in his chest. He was a noble fourth generation Torredo and should never lower himself to haggle with a lower ranked Kindred—even if he did, it should not be about brute force but rather about elegance, wisdom, and power!
He closed his eyes and the anger slowly vanished from him, instead being replaced by vigorous fighting spirit and exaggerated self-confidence.
He put his bat down on the opposite corner and then dug out a spinning top from the box. The top was made of the same material as the chessboard and was also white and smooth. “You first or me first?”
Baal replied, “You first.”
Daniel felt quite surprised. He had assumed that Baal would ungraciously demand to go first. “Don’t tell me you really don’t know how to play?”
“You’ll know who doesn’t know how to play when you lose,” Baal answered coldly. Ways of cheating flashed through his mind.
Naturally, Daniel couldn’t tell what Baal was thinking. So he very seriously put the spinning top in midair and then spun it lightly.
The top didn’t fall when it left his palm but rather spun rapidly in midair by itself. During that process, a stream of numbers tumbled constantly above its round and flat top.
After about ten seconds, the top finally slowed down and the numbers became visible.
3, 2, 1, 0, 9… stop.
Both Wang Xiaoming and Baal looked at Daniel.
Daniel smiled slightly and it seemed like 9 was a good number.
The bat in front of him flapped its wings for a while and then stopped like it did before.
The other Kindreds beside them let out simultaneous sighs of relief and then began clapping loudly.
Wang Xiaoming and Baal gave each other confused looks.
Wasn’t it normal for a bat to fly? What was applause-worthy about that?
Daniel made a gesture of invitation and stared intently at Baal. “Your turn.”
Baal grabbed the spinning top and spun it the same way.
The top began spinning and those around them instantly started loudly shouting, “Zero, zero, zero…”
Wang Xiaoming started to understand the rules of the game. Could it be that the so-called Blood Chess was just a 3D bat version of… Aeroplane Chess2A classic Chinese board game similar to Ludo. For more information, see: <a href=”https://www.ymimports.com/pages/how-to-play-aeroplane-chess-fei-xing-qi”>https://www.ymimports.com/pages/how-to-play-aeroplane-chess-fei-xing-qi</a>?
The top stopped and the number was a clear 2.
So everyone’s gaze focused on the still confused and innocent bat in front of Baal.
“Play.” Daniel watched as Baal remained motionless for a very long time and couldn’t resist urging the other one on.
Baal bent down to look at the bat, then slowly reached out a hand…
It was clearly a simple gesture but it made the entire bar sit at the edge of their seats.
Baal’s forefinger flicked and ended up poking the bat’s butt.
The bat received the stimulation and hurriedly flapped its wings, rushing forward.
Daniel silently reached out a hand to stop it and then told Baal, “It flew over.”
Baal asked with a frown, “How did you train it?”
“…” Daniel chased the bat back to the starting point and then said sarcastically, “This is what happens when you don’t know how much you’re worth.” Bats had owners and, unless someone’s rank was higher than its owner’s or if the bat was moved too far away from the owner, it would never listen to someone else’s command. He had let Baal steal the bat away without protest just for this embarrassing moment!
Baal slightly squinted his eyes.
Wang Xiaoming glanced around and gave a dry laugh, “The game is mostly rolling the die. Other things aren’t important.”
As if remembering something, Daniel said with a smile, “Then let us see how your die rolls are.”
As he said that, the bat in front of Baal flew forward a tiny stretch.
All of a sudden, the yellow sand rushed up from below like a geyser. It was clearly a virtual scene, but the bat became covered with a layer of yellow sand.
“Looks like your die rolling skills are just so-so. You’ve met a trap so quickly.” It was the band member who spoke up.
“Again!” Baal’s desire for victory was quickly stirred. Though Wang Xiaoming thought the thing that got stirred was probably his desire to play.
Daniel asked, “Before the game ends, shouldn’t we up the stakes?”
Baal looked up.
“Of course, if you don’t dare…” Daniel’s lips formed a smirk. “Then turn into a bat and be my slave for three days. Then we can forget about you hitting me.” The guy dared hit him! He must make the guy pay a tragic price!
Baal snorted, “What stakes?”
“The loser… will forever be loyal to the winner.” A threatening coldness filled Daniel’s eyes, which were as clear as water.
Baal frowned slightly. “What are you useful for?”
“…” He was afraid; because he was afraid, he was covering it up with all kinds of provocations. Daniel tried to explain away the difference between his expectations and how Baal was actually acting. He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “If you don’t dare, then you can choose the other condition.”
Wang Xiaoming realized things were going downhill and asked quietly, “Could we choose neither?”
“Of course.” Suddenly, a slender silver sword appeared in Daniel’s palm. It looked like one of those that was often used for dueling amongst European nobles. Wang Xiaoming had once seen it in the movie Zorro. But the one in Daniel’s hand was more intricate and a circle of tiny diamonds and rubies glinted at the place where the hilt met the blade.
The other Kindreds jumped away in fear.
“This is the Sword of Punishment of the Torredo clan.” Daniel slowly raised the sword until it was level with Baal and then demanded chillingly, “Do you think you can take it?”
- 1A line from a poem by Du Fu mourning the loss of famous military tactician Zhu Geliang of illness during his sixth war campaign, before he achieved his dream of unifying the country.
- 2A classic Chinese board game similar to Ludo. For more information, see: <a href=”https://www.ymimports.com/pages/how-to-play-aeroplane-chess-fei-xing-qi”>https://www.ymimports.com/pages/how-to-play-aeroplane-chess-fei-xing-qi</a>