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211 Difficulty

    "Crazy Rampage Beast is gone for good," Monroe muttered in a pleasant voice as the debris upon him melted. He quickly jumped on his feet and checked the injuries he has suffered.

    "Are you fine?" Amir asked as he jumped next to him and reverted to his original form from the earlier ball-like state.

    "Yeah," Monroe said in a slightly annoyed tone.

    "Don't blame us for what happened now," Mina understood his annoyance. "We were only protecting ourselves and if we have tried to save you, all of us would have died."

    "I understand," Monroe nodded as he took out a pill from a bottle and stuffed it in his mouth. Energy waves surrounded him and the injuries on his body disappeared.

    "Let's meet that man named Kiba and his girl," Amir suggested. He has heard Ruby shouting Kiba's name when he was attacked by the beast.

    "Okay," The others in the team agreed and walked towards the tree behind which Kiba and Ruby were resting. Ashlyn also joined her team after Amir's insistence.

    Kiba, in the meantime, snapped his fingers and a camping bag appeared in front of him.

    "It has all our daily items," Kiba said as he clamped the bag on his back. The bag was made from special materials to make it light.

    "Why?" Ruby was startled.

    She believed he possessed a spatial storage item by which he could store all luggage inside it, without actually carrying the load. She has heard of such storage items, and from what she knew, the technology for such items was derived from the meteorites.

    What she didn't understand was why he would use a bag suddenly when he doesn't have to.

    "We can't let them know of our little secret," Kiba said as he jumped back on his feet.

    He obviously knew the false assumption Ruby had about storage item. He didn't really feel like correcting her and explain the true nature of his abilities.

    "Ah!" Ruby nodded in understanding.

    The storage items were rather envy-worthy due to the materials needed to manufacture them. She thought if others came to know he carried a storage item, then the news would spread and he would become a target of others.

    While he was powerful, she knew even he would get annoyed with everyone targetting him. This was indeed true since he wanted people to live so that he could use them as guinea pigs in the core region.

    For the time being, he wanted to prevent deaths if it was possible. This was the reason he just saved Monroe from the giant beast.

    "Hey," Amir called out as he stepped in front of the tree. "How are you two doing?"

    "Fine," Kiba and Ruby both pretended to be on guards as they saw more of Amir's team joining them.

    "Relax, we mean no harm," Amir quickly clarified. "We are also dead tired and in no state to start another battle."

    "Oh?" Ruby looked at Amir and others.

    Indeed, she felt they were exhausted even though they didn't seem to have any major injuries from facing the giant beast.

    "Did you guys also suffered under the beast tide?" Alexia asked.

    "Beast tide?"

    "I take that as a no," Alexia said with a sigh. "We don't know why, but yesterday, almost all low-level beasts in the outer region started fleeing inside. It caused a beast riot and many humans died in the resulting stampede. We survived but our energy was fully spent..."

    "I see," Ruby nodded while giving a quick glance at Kiba.

    She has a pretty good idea of how the beast riot started and the man responsible for it. It also made sense to her why she didn't see many beasts during the journey so far.

    "That was horrible," Kiba said in a heavy and righteous voice. "Whoever is responsible for such an event needs to be killed for endangering the lives of innocents."

    "Yeap," Alexia agreed.

    "Umm, let me introduce myself. I'm Mina," Mina chimed in. She felt they were going sidetracked from the purpose they planned to make acquaintance with the two. "The six of us are from Blue Cliff Group."

    Mina then proceeded to introduce everyone by name - Amir, Alexia, Nellie, Monroe, and Gill

    "Ah! Nice to meet you," Kiba said in a pleasant tone. He then pointed at Ruby and said," We two are just normal adventurists without any group."

    Inwardly, he thought how everyone he has met so far has a bad sense of naming. The beast was fine with that stupid name but why would a group name themselves as Blue Cliff?

    "Six? But you are seven?" Ruby said after Kiba stated their names.

    "Ashlyn is not a part of our group," Mina explained while pointing at Ahsyln who was standing some distance away from them. "She has joined us as a special member."

    "Oh," Ruby was sure the special member was just a nice way of addressing a temporary member in the group.

    A member whom they most likely met at forest and decided to collaborate for resources.

    "Actually, the reason we are here is to invite you to our group as special members," Amir joined in and explained the benefits involved. "All of us have plans to explore the meteorite and discover the secrets of that foreign world. Before the core region opens up, we would be collecting herbs and vitals of beasts."

    Amir has seen potential in Kiba so he wanted to have him in the group. This also meant inviting Ruby though he didn't have any high expectations from her.

    "You two are not in any group and joining us would be beneficial to you in long run," Mina added in a kind voice. "Not only you will get more resources, but the threat you will face would decrease. There are only benefits involved in the collaboration for all of us."

    "Well," Kiba turned towards Ruby and said. "I need to discuss with my partner."

    "We understand," Amir hinted others to back off. "Please tell your decision soon."

    "Sure," Kiba smiled in agreement as the group gave them time and space to discuss.

    Ruby glanced at him and started a non-existent discussion. Inwardly, she thought the decision was Kiba's alone.

    She was just a slave with no power to resist his orders.

    She obviously understood Kiba didn't wish to let others know the true nature of their relationship so he was orchestrating a fake performance to fool them.

    "We are going to be acting as a new couple," Kiba looked her in the eyes and said. "Two lovers who met in the forest and fell in love at first sight."

    "...." Ruby lowered her head, her cheeks turning a dark shade of red.

    She was embarrassed since 'love at first sight' was how he fooled her in sleeping with him. The background he created was not false but not true either.

    After five minutes, Kiba and Ruby walked to the group to enter into an agreement with them after the small details were decided.

    "We are pleased to have you two in our group," Alexia said with a smile.

    "It is our honor to join you," Kiba expressed his gratitude, while inwardly he sighed as he thought: "Obviously you would be pleased. You wish to use me, Ruby, and Ashlyn as scapegoats when things turn worse."

    The six might not have let their intentions known, but he was pretty sure. Otherwise, why else would they take powerful 'special members' in the group despite the obvious risks involved?

    "Some miles ahead is a cave which Rock-scaled Lizards are using as a habitat," Amir brought out a map from his pocket and said. "Their scales and hearts are a very valuable commodity. Let's not mention the herbs they are guarding. We should get them today."

    Mina then explained more details to Kiba and Ruby.

    "We have no problems," Kiba nodded on behalf of the two.

    "Good," Amir and the group then left the area.

    Throughout the journey, Ashlyn was walking separately, without saying a single word. While Kiba did have light conversation with others, but never with Ashyln.

    The reason he joined the group was Ashlyn but he didn't try to strike a conversation with her. Much less a conversation, he didn't even peek at her.

    In the art of seduction, the right opportunity mattered the most. If he conversed with her by using a flimsy excuse, despite knowing her demeanor, his non-existent impression in her eyes would fall, and the chances of him getting her would dwindle.

    "The chances are not good anyways," Kiba thought as they walked through thick foliage.

    "From what I have seen so far, and what the others in the group have hinted, Ashlyn is of level VI or higher in terms of difficulty. Unless I use those methods...there would be no success in short time. No, I can't use them."

    Kiba gritted his teeth and made a decision to not use underhanded tactics, no matter how much he desired her.

    He didn't wish to cross the boundary line just because of his own lust. Doing so would be disrespectful to not only Ashyln but also to him as an individual.

    This was the same reason why he never went overboard with Sophia. He did tease her to enjoy her reactions, but he didn't touch her inappropriately or do anything which would have a drastic effect on her as a person.

    "Haah," Kiba released multiple sighs at his poor luck. "I'm too much of a good guy."

    Yesterday, he met Sophia but she was a very difficult target.  Even with his experience, he believed he would need at least six to seven months to fully seduce her.

    Now, he met another gorgeous girl, but she was even more difficult than Sophia.

    How can he not blame gods and his own innocence for the troubles he was facing now? All he had was two months in the forest, but the time required for success in this new target was no less than a year.

    "Damn! Mature women are more fun," Kiba thought as he stepped ahead under a tree branch. "They know what they want thanks to their age and experience."

    Kiba recalled his time with Suzane in Delta City. She was rather an easy conquest due to this very reason. He was able to get her in bed after a week or so of hard work.

    "Maidens, on the other hand, are clueless on what they truly desire," Kiba thought as he remembered the young girls from the city.

    "Their young minds are further corroded by naive ideas of love and romance. This makes things truly difficult for an individual like me whose reputation is maligned by society."

    Kiba wanted to share the hardships he has faced in his conquests. But alas, no person could ever understand his pain and sufferings...he was all alone in his journey.
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