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By any measurement, the Hessianite Family was already close to the top of the Blood Clan's food chain in the city. Although a pretty young vampire family, under the wise and diplomatic leadership of its head, the Hessianites rose to prominence very quickly, just a tad behind the Lucasian and Bethanosian Families—well, that was what Hessiana said anyway. They controlled a large area in the eastern part of the sanctuary and this was their stronghold. Only those sanctioned were allowed to enter the area.
That was the one-sided story from the Blood Clan maiden who had a loose screw. But since she told it with such seriousness, let's give her the benefit of doubt.
They were ushered into the beautiful mansion and were surprised to find the house brightly lit. A bright and beautifully decorated long hall greeted them. It was layered with fine carpet and there were long tables on both sides. In addition, there were almost a hundred male and female staff waiting in the hall. These people were dressed in the finest clothes specifically suited for the function; the males were handsome while the females were enchanting. It looked like an Oscar event, so much so that even Lily who could never sit still for a second was rooted to the spot, wide-eyed.
It was obvious that these people were waiting for Hessiana and her guests. As soon as they entered the hall, the people turned around and all eyes were on them as if it they standing at attention. They then placed their right hands across their chests, bowed and greeted Hessiana. Marvelling at the sight, Hao Ren could not help but take a jab at Vivian. "It seems your mini-you has been more successful than you."
Puzzled, Vivian asked, "What mini-you?"
Hao Ren replied, "Hessiana."
A unnatural expression flashed across Vivian's face. "She... she's got nothing better to do. But the fact that she has actually made it to where she is now is mind-blowing. When she just arrived, I had to ask Hesperides to look after her; she was just a kid. And every time I came here she would always do things that scared the hell out of me."
Meanwhile, Hessiana had run across the hall to the other end, looking happy. She stood in front of a Y-shaped staircase, spreading out her hands as she called out to the people around her, "Listen, ladies and gentlemen. Our true master, Lady Vivian is here! Now let the party begin. Enjoy your food and have fun. Do whatever you like as long as it's not fighting! Hooray!"
Hao Ren smacked his forehead. "Now, that is anticlimactic as far as the deco is concerned..."
These people in the hall were vampires who had gained favour in Hessiana's family. Hao Ren had no idea what their hierarchy looked like and he did not want to waste time on that. The 100 or so "people" in the hall and the meticulous decoration had been carefully arranged by Hessiana to welcome Vivian. Obviously, Hessiana knew her "parent" well; she knew that when Vivian arrived, she would have no choice but to reveal herself. Hao Ren did not know how long these people had been waiting. But as soon as Hessiana wrapped up her opening remark, the party atmosphere was ignited with the vampires in tuxedos and gowns scrambling over to the dining tables. If the hall itself resembled the Palace of Versailles, then the scene had to be the canteen of the Palace of Versailles. Hao Ren was rooted to the spot, not knowing what to make of the scenario: he thought he had finally met gentle, elegant, serious and deadpanned vampires, but little did he expect that their culture appearance before meal time was merely part of the presentation...
"Don't expect people in the Hessianite Family to be well-cultured." It was a heart-wrenching scene for Vivian. She herself was poor, but she was well-mannered with calm temperament. Nontheless, she was helpless when it came to Hessiana. "Maybe it has something to do with my bloodline... Like normal members of the Blood Clan, Hessiana can duplicate herself, but her clones would invariably possess some defects in personality. It's most likely hereditary."
Hao Ren listened while he looked at the gruesome scene of the party. He now got a better picture in his mind: Look, these funny people were actually a representation of Hessiana and her effort for the past 1,000 years.
Hessiana ran back to them. She grabbed Vivian's hand and dragged her to the biggest of tables. "Hurry up, hurry up. Let's see how good our chef is. I'm starving. I haven't eaten anything since the afternoon. While I was at Lucas' place wrangling for half a day, they couldn't even make a proper meal. What a shame! All I got was just a cocktail and type B blood."
Meanwhile, Lily was also scrambling to the table, dragging Hao Ren along: it was not hard to tell what was on the simpleton's mind—after all, it was dinner time.
Hao Ren was mentally prepared to see some gross stuff on the dining tables, especially when this was a vampire party. But when he arrived he was flabbergasted. "Do you people eat normal food too?"
"Yes, we do. But it's not filling enough, so we still need blood to maintain our vitality," Hessiana said as she glanced admirably at Vivian. "I really envy Lady Vivian; she can live entirely on human food, but we can't. We still depend on the reserve in the blood bank—you know, it's not easy to find food anymore nowadays!"
Listening to the way Hessiana spoke, Hao Ren quickly spotted the similarity—it was hereditary; Hessiana had indeed inherited it from Vivian. But one thing was obviously different— the magical powers in Vivian's blood were not present in Hessiana's. The bloodline had been diluted. Vampires of the Hessianite Family could only gain full vitality by feeding on blood, although they could still survive on human food. He watched the going-ons in the hall as a complicated but subtle feeling riddled him. The vampires were gobbling up the food like there was no tomorrow, and just like Hessiana, they had that same devil-may-care attitude; they just did not possess the quality of elegance and impassiveness of the pure Blood Clan. Sitting among the pile of food on the tables were glasses of red liquid. It was this kind of stuff that normal people would consider gross. Hao Ren could not help asking as he pointed to the glass before Hessiana, "Is that blood?"
"Yes, you want some? I can pour you some, but just for the sake of Lady Vivian. You know that I don't like you, but you're still my guest." Hessiana held up her glass and gave it a little swirl as she continued, "I've heard that some human shamans actually drink blood to catch big tailed wolves."
Lily responded by hitting the table. "The tail's a source of pride! Don't belittle it!"
"Shh, it's got nothing to do with you." Hao Ren shoved Lily behind him, and then looked at Hessiana awkwardly. "I've also heard that vampires keep humans as blood slaves. They harvest fresh blood from the human like one would milk a cow—just keeping them barely alive, without any freedom. May I ask, is this blood—"
"Lady Vivian told you that?" Hessiana gave Hao Ren a sideways glance. "I just don't understand what's so great about you that Lady Vivian would be willing to follow you. Don't worry. Times have changed and so have we. I don't know about those fuddy-duddies, but we do things the new way—the civilised way. Our blood supply comes from humane sources and the dealings are absolutely fair as well as open..."
Nangong Wuyue frowned. "Just tell us where it comes from."
Hessiana turned her face away. "The hospital's blood bank. And some are sourced by way of procurement agreement. Hunting is a dying practice nowadays. Cruel practices such as blood slaves will get ourselves killed."
"All right, I can accept the idea of a blood bank although that's a little novice. What about the agreement?" Hao Ren asked.
Hessiana had a forced smile on her face. "You know, while humans and otherworldlings are generally enemies, there are those who have a more unorthodox way of thinking—those like the heretics, cultists, satanic-worshippers, vampire societies and etc. Got it? These people are the source of blood for the otherworldings in this sanctuary. We even have assets out there such as businesses and mines, which are manned by humans. But behind the walls of these normal looking businesses, the bosses could be members of the Blood Clan or even demons. How do you think a sanctuary as large as this survived till this day?"
Hao Ren's mind was stimulated. He could imagine a flashy, publicly-listed company operating a totally legit business under the sun. When the sun went down and the company closed its doors for the day, the CEO, whose face was always splashed on TV would assemble his or her stuff in the office. The CEO would set up an altar, draw some magic circles and chant some incantations. The individual would praise as well as worship the vampires or demons while waiting for his or her blood to be taken. After that, the company's financial reports and bags of fresh blood would be delivered underground... The picture could not be more real.
If that was the case, how many of these company bosses were actually killed by demon hunters?
It seemed that the conflict between demon hunters and otherworldings had evolved; it was not just a close quarters one. They infiltrated and assimilated into human society to carry on the war. No one could tell how things would unfold.
But at the moment, Hao Ren could only lament.
The otherworldlings had indeed kept up with times.