Without hesitation, Wang Xiaoming took out the pen and paper from his pocket and handed them to Baal.
“?” Baal accepted them without saying anything.
Wang Xiaoming asked, “What does it say on there?”
Baal replied, “Any contestant who has arrived at the amusement park must follow the following rules: protect public property, no spitting allowed, no randomly discarding food or other trash, no loud noises, nothing that interferes with others attempting the challenges.”
Wang Xiaoming said self-consciously, “That sounds familiar.”
“You’ve seen it before?”
“Yeah, it sounds a lot like the elementary school rules I had to memorize as a child.” Wang Xiaoming was actually quite surprised that he could still remember them.
Baal, “…” Did this count as a connection between the realms?
Wang Xiaoming asked, “Is that all we have to memorize?” If it really was elementary school rules, he could guess the majority of them even if he couldn’t memorize everything. In the end, he just had to pretend that he was an innocent little cherub.
Baal replied, “No.” He took out the bottle that contained Xiang Wenjie’s blood and splashed some on the sign.
Wang Xiaoming, “…” He remembered Edwin had said that if there was blood left over, they could pour it back into Xiang Wenjie’s body. He recalled Xiang Wenjie’s pale and weak appearance as they had left and Wang Xiaoming’s guilt grew exponentially and covered his heart like thorny vines.
Baal put the cap on the bottle and tossed it back into his space.
The color on the sign dimmed and then slowly brightened again. Heaven’s Script slowly extended from the left side of the first row like a colorful ribbon. It danced up and down and twirled around as if it were dancing.
Wang Xiaoming heard gentle and soothing music play slowly somewhere by his ear, which seemed to be accompanied by ethereal voices that came and went, breaking off here and there. It seemed like angels were singing. Vaguely, Wang Xiaoming thought he saw the most beautiful of clouds drift by or the clearest of spring waters flow past him. It made him gradually calm down.
He shook his head and wanted to ask Baal what was happening, only to realize that Baal was staring intently at the sign. Baal didn’t even blink and was in a rare state of seriousness. So Wang Xiaoming closed his mouth.
The first line was written out completely, but when the second line appeared, the first line of Heaven’s Script actually started to slowly disappear at the same rate that the second line was appearing.
Wang Xiaoming’s heart constricted slightly. He didn’t know how much Baal had managed to memorize. He listened to the music and tried very hard to identify those squiggly lines so that, when Baal forgot, he could help provide some clues.
The Heaven’s Script on the sign appeared faster and faster but the voices became weaker and weaker, until they vanished into thin air along with the Heaven’s Script on the sign.
Until the end, both of Wang Xiaoming’s pupils were filled with those squiggly lines so that all he saw were lines. That meant when Baal’s face appeared before Wang Xiaoming’s eyes, he automatically converted Baal’s face into line art.
“What are you looking at?” Baal reached out and flicked Wang Xiaoming’s forehead.
Wang Xiaoming cried out in pain and was startled into wakefulness. He hurriedly asked, “How much do you remember?”
Baal’s expression was strange as he instead said, “This challenge… probably came from Cain.”
Wang Xiaoming asked, “Why do you say that? Ah, could it be that everything on there has something to do with Cain?”
Baal replied, “No. It has nothing to do with Cain, but it has something to do with Heaven.”
Wang Xiaoming struggled to connect the dots, but no matter how hard he tried, the dots wouldn’t connect.
Baal answered, “Those are the rules of Heaven written on there.”
Wang Xiaoming’s expression also turned strange. “So like, no spitting randomly, no discarding fruit peels and pieces of paper randomly?”
Baal said slowly, “Between Heaven and Earth, there is only one God in the Nine Realms. Aside from Cain, very few Kindreds would be able to approach It.”
Wang Xiaoming paused. The distance between them caused him to blank for a few minutes. But since theory connected to practicality, the first question he wondered was, “So do you remember it?”
Baal answered in vexation, “I spent tens of thousands of years memorizing those damn rules, what do you think?”
Wang Xiaoming clapped his hands together. “That’s great!”
“Did you just say that it’s great it took me several thousands of years to memorize them?” Baal’s gaze wasn’t friendly.
Wang Xiaoming denied hurriedly, “I meant that we’ll definitely pass this challenge and that’s great.”
Baal thought for a moment. “Put it that way, this is a nicely done challenge.”
“It was practically designed for you,” Wang Xiaoming remarked.
Baal thought that, given how Cain had some skills when it came to designing challenges, he’d be willing to consider not beating him up too much after the guy performed the Embrace on Wang Xiaoming… At the most, he’d make the guy sleep a couple thousand years more.
Of course, his brain didn’t have words like “repaying kindness with scorn,” much less any negative emotions tied to those words such as “guilt.”
“Then let’s go in.” Wang Xiaoming was already filled with confidence when it came to this challenge.
With their heads held high, the two of them marched forward and pushed open the door to the tiny house. Then—
Baal muttered a curse in a quiet voice.
Wang Xiaoming looked in confusion at the two identical doors and the practically identical curves on each door. He asked curiously, “What is it?”
“I need to recite it backwards,” Baal answered with a frown.
Wang Xiaoming, “…” Nevermind elementary school rules. Even names of regular companies or schools would be hard to say backwards.
He silently raised Baal’s hand, which was still holding the pen and paper, and said sincerely, “A good memory is not worth as much as a worn out pen.”
Wang Xiaoming tilted his head and watched Baal silently bent over the paper, writing down the basic tenets of Heaven.
Flowing lines came out of the pen, and that angelic melody seemed to ring out again in Wang Xiaoming’s mind.
“Baal…” Wang Xiaoming noticed that Baal had stopped writing and asked in a whisper, “Do you hear someone singing?”
“Singing?” Baal blinked and then asked in realization, “Are you hearing a crowd of neither men nor women singing?”
“…” Wang Xiaoming didn’t know whether to answer yes or no to that question.
“It’s fine to listen to those occasionally,” Baal answered as if recalling some horrible memory.
Wang Xiaoming answered, “I think it’s really pleasant. If it became a CD, it’d sell out like crazy.”
“No matter how good it sounds, a couple tens of thousand years later it will get annoying.” Baal’s lips pressed together.
Wang Xiaoming replied, “But every time I listen to the anthem, I can’t help but feel my passion stirring. I don’t think I’d get tired of it.”
“That’s because you’ve only been alive for twenty-something years.”
“…” Wang Xiaoming struggled to imagine how he should feel tens of thousands of years later. In the end, he concluded that he couldn’t imagine it. “Baal, is immortality painful for you?”
Baal asked with a frown, “Why do you ask?”
“Nothing. I just can’t imagine what I’d do after I become immortal.” Wang Xiaoming was suddenly a bit afraid. In a lot of movies about vampires, many of those vampires became so lonely they wanted to die but couldn’t. He feared that one day he’d become like that and then go crazy.
“Then don’t imagine it.” Baal shrugged. “Didn’t you once say that you can’t imagine what you’d chase after with eternal life?”
Wang Xiaoming asked in embarrassment, “You still remember?”
“I’m telling you my answer now. Eternal life doesn’t mean you have to intentionally chase after anything.” Baal said haughtily, “Chasing is something humans do because their lives are limited, so they have to set up goals and steps for themselves. But when you’re enjoying eternal life, you no longer have that limitation. You can waste tens of thousands of years of your life and do whatever you want until you find what you want to do.”
Wang Xiaoming stared bewildered at him.
“I also remembered you said something about fishies and happiness…” Baal struggled to repeat what Wang Xiaoming had said back then.
Wang Xiaoming asked, “How can you know the joys of being a fish when you’re not a fish?”
Baal raised an eyebrow and said, “Yup, sounds like that one. You will have eternal life very soon, so from now on, you can start thinking of problems from another angle.”
Wang Xiaoming repeated quietly, “From another angle?”
“For example, from now on you won’t have to live your life while worrying about time.”
“Ah.” Wang Xiaoming caught sight of the two doors from the corners of his eyes and couldn’t help but call out in surprise.
Baal asked, “What is it?”
“We’re out of time!”
Baal, “…” This was snark, wasn’t it?
“The number on the door is a countdown!” Wang Xiaoming’s eyes flew open in shock.
Baal turned around. As predicted, there was an additional number counting down on the two doors in addition to Heaven’s Script. By then, the number had jumped from 43 to 42.
“Dammit!” Baal grabbed Wang Xiaoming, squeezed him under his own armpit, and then rushed toward the door on the right like a flash of lightning.
During the entire process, all Wang Xiaoming could hear were doors constantly opening, all he could feel was his head constantly shaking, and all he could see was the ground constantly flashing in front of his eyes.
So when Baal rushed out of the maze after 30 seconds and left the maze 12 seconds to enjoy itself, Wang Xiaoming didn’t feel like he had stopped but instead wondered why the Earth was starting to shake.
“Are you alright?” Baal set Wang Xiaoming down.
Wang Xiaoming stumbled back and forth and weaved left and right a couple of times before slowly waving at Baal. “I’m alright… urgh!” Then he barfed.
“…” Baal supported Wang Xiaoming as the man puked his guts out and drawled out, “That’s okay then.”
No matter how up and down the process had been and how many twists and turns the process had taken, at least they had passed through the maze.
The next challenge was—
Wang Xiaoming and Baal both looked down into bottomless depths below and at the little back dot floating somewhere in the distance, which seemed like a pimple because of the distance between them.
“We only have to jump from here to there?” Wang Xiaoming wondered in curiosity. That shouldn’t be hard right? After all, all Kindreds could turn into bats. They just had to turn into a bat and fly over, then they’d pass.
Baal picked up a pebble from the ground and tossed it ahead.
Gusts of strong wind suddenly appeared around them when everything had been calm before. Instantly, the pebble was blasted away, out of their sight.
Wang Xiaoming’s face instantly paled. Could Baal’s wings hold up against such strong winds? Even Kindreds jumping in midair could easily be blown away by them, right?
Baal clapped his hands and suddenly leaned down, picking Wang Xiaoming up and carrying him bridal style.
Wang Xiaoming instinctively threw his arm around Baal’s neck. “Baal?”
Baal’s lips curved. “Looks like we’ve got a long road ahead of us. You can take a nap first.”
Wang Xiaoming tightened his hold on Baal’s neck and raised his upper body up to kiss Baal’s cheek. “Good luck.”
Baal tilted his face and, taking advantage of the fact that Wang Xiaoming hadn’t moved away, pressed a light kiss on the man’s lips. “You can close your eyes now.”
Wang Xiaoming obediently closed his eyes.
Baal spread his wings wide open and summoned a ward to envelope himself. Then, amidst the fierce and raging storm, he leisurely flew through the darkened sky and into the great beyond.