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225 Blood Demon Flower

    The corpse of the fox lay on the ground, staining the grass into crimson red. Ashlyn ignored the corpse and joined Kiba.

    The two stepped among wild bushes and looked out for any hidden beasts.

    "Well, she could have defeated this fox easily," Kiba thought after he didn't hear any words of thanks from her. Not like he actually cared about her gratitude or anything. "She might be caught off-guard by the fox's invisible attack but she would have won definitely."

    Kiba recalled the seven runic seals he has seen on her palm when she faced the blood sword yesterday. She has broken the blue seal to defeat his ability.

    Kiba believed Ashlyn was much stronger than she let the world think, so it wasn't anything surprising for her not to be impressed by Kiba's supposed help.

    They continued their journey, and in between, they faced many vicious beasts. Every single of them was killed by Ashlyn, giving Kiba no chance to use his powers.

    After walking for half a mile without any hindrances, they came across a wild garden. The garden was vast, filled with various flowers and fruits of myriad colors and shapes. Medical aroma mixed in the air, making one feel refreshed.

    Every single plant was amazing in one or other, some special than the others. One of the flowers was especially striking with its length no less than a two-storied building. The flower was pink-white with its pistils emitting a sweet fragrance that made one feel rejuvenated.

    A footstep away from the flower, a star-shaped mushroom was growing. The mushroom was rather short but its presence was stunning. Its body was white covered with misty dust-like particles. The dust was no ordinary dust but rather particles from stars.

    This was Stardust Mushroom.

    According to top botanists, the mushroom only nourished in places rich with energy from the alien world. The meteorites brought not only the age of evolution but they also carried various matters from the space as they reached Earth.

    These matters and energy were responsible for the variety of fruits which were rare and special.

    The Stardust Mushroom was one of the most sought items for any high-grade experiment on a genetic level. The Stardust could reduce the resistance offered by genes to foreign energy sources and thus increase the chances of the experiment.

    Not only this, the mushroom was extremely beneficial for one to develop their physiques. The Stardust could make one's tendons as strong as steel and bones as hard as iron, almost unbreakable. Even ordinary humans, with no special abilities, could consume this mushroom and increase their vitality.

    No matter whether it was a researcher, mutant, or an ordinary person, this mushroom was desired by everyone. Its price in the black market was no less than $200 million along with various other resources.

    "How strange," Kiba mumbled as his gaze passing on various flowers.

    "What?" Ashlyn looked at him.

    "There is not a single bee in this garden," Kiba mentioned the strangeness he noticed.

    Ashlyn turned around and observed more than a hundred flowers in the garden, and just like Kiba said, she didn't notice the presence of any bee.

    She then nodded her head as she understood the strangeness in this garden.

    Bees and flowering plants always had a mutualistic relationship where both species benefitted. Flowers provided bees with nectar and pollen, which worker bees collect to feed their entire colonies. Bees, in return, provided flowers with the means to reproduce, by spreading pollen from flower to flower through pollination.

    In short, the bees need flowers for food and flowers to depend on bees as pollinators. They helped each other to survive and reproduce.

    The garden was filled with flowers, both new and old, yet not a single bee. There was no natural equilibrium at all.

    How was it possible for the flowers to grow to such an extent without the help of bees? The wind alone couldn't help pollination to such a degree.

    "No other insect or bug as well," Ashlyn said as she recalled she didn't face any beasts outside the garden.

    "Yeap," Kiba agreed. He then closed his eyes and allowed his senses to envelop the garden.

    Just as he closed his eyes, the ground behind him parted without any disturbance or noise. Rattan vines shot out, without emitting a single sound, and rushed at Kiba's vital organs.

    Kiba snapped his eyes open, and just as he was about to use his powers, from the corners of his eye, he noticed two blue discs flying through the air.

    The discs emanated an ear-piercing sound as they spun in the air in a chopping motion. In the time it takes to blink an eye, the discs cut through the vines and tore them into pieces.

    "Well," Kiba glanced at Ashyln as the discs returned to her. "I guess we don't owe each other."

    Ashlyn didn't say anything and looked at the ground.

    RUMBLEEEEE

    The land split apart as hundreds of pink-white vines tore through the ground and appeared in the air.

    Kiba focused his eyes on the vines and then the two-storied tall flower.

    "A carnivorous plant," Kiba thought with slight interest. "It should be Blood Demon Flower."

    The biological name and classification of the flower were obviously different. The popular name was given by humans due to its nature of consuming the flesh and blood of living organisms.

    The age of evolution was fair to both flora and fauna alike. While humans and bests have a higher advantage due to their intelligence and their ability to move, the evolution also blessed the plants to make up for their disadvantage.

    Many evolved and precious flowers had the ability to camouflage and hide their presence from the predators who sought them. They could transform into ordinary flowers and escape herb seekers.

    Then there were carnivorous plants who maintained the natural balance by preying on beasts and humans alike, in a way protecting other flowering plants.

    There were even records of plants gaining sentience and intelligence no lower than that of a human.

    Blood Demon Flower grew besides Stardust Mushroom intentionally. It knew humans and beasts would come to take the mushroom, and this gave it an advantage. Then there was the sweet fragrance the flower emitted.

    The people believed the fragrance was beneficial, but in fact, it lowered the thought process and contemplation ability while making one feel relaxed.

    In a way, the wild garden was a perfect habitat for Blood Demon Flower to seek prey.

    The vines danced in the air while the pistil of the flower opened up like the mouth of a ferocious beast. Its teeth were blood-red, emitting a foul stench of gore.

    The flower rushed ahead while the vines shot in the sky before viciously falling towards the ground, carrying a terrifying momentum.

    Both Kiba and Ashlyn jumped back, and just then the vines stuck their former places.

    BANG

    The vines smashed five giant holes in the ground, breaking the land into fragments of stones and soil. Stones and dust flew in the air.

    The bloody mouth of the flower dashed towards Kiba and Ashlyn, its mouth emitting a growling sound of a hungry beast.

    "A level IV mutant flower?" Kiba said, his voice containing slight shock as he finally sensed Blood Demon Flower's true aura.

    Earlier the flower had masked its aura and energy, but now that it attacked, Kiba was able to feel its true power.

    "Are you sure?" Ashlyn was also visibly stunned. She didn't want to break the seal on her powers this soon.

    "I'm pretty sure," Kiba nodded as he backed away. "No wonder they sent us here."

    Ashlyn didn't reply but she also had suspicions this was a trap set by Amir and others. She had noticed the second path and didn't find any obstacles. So they should be here by now and yet, there was no mark of them.

    Ashlyn landed on the ground as she noticed the garden behind being locked by the vines. She gripped the discs in her hands as she looked at the rushing mouth of the flower.

    "Do you want to avoid this fight?" Kiba asked, his lips curving up in a smirk. "And in the process, also pay our team in their own coin?"

    Ashlyn was about to attack with the discs when she heard his words. She looked at him, waiting for him to explain more.

    Kiba didn't speak, and instead,  placed a hand over her shoulder. Before Ashlyn could tell him to back off, her eyes involuntarily closed as a blinding white radiance engulfed her and Kiba.

    CRUNCH

    The giant mouth of the flower closed its jaw on the two figures. But when the jaw closed, there was nothing between them, just air.

    Kiba and Ashlyn had teleported away!

    Swoosh.

    Far high in the sky, a column of white light appeared out of thin air and morphed into a man and a woman.

    As Ashlyn opened her eyes, she felt cold winds. She observed the clouds around her before looking down.

    A transparent golden board was below her feet. A step away, Kiba was floating in the air, without any support.

    "Teleportation and flight?" Ashlyn was slightly surprised.

    She then shook her head as she thought everyone would have trump cards, just like her. So it was nothing shocking for Kiba to have such abilities.

    "What is your plan?" Ashlyn enquired, her voice the same as ever.

    "Nothing grand to be honest," Kiba answered with a faint smile, "We will follow Amir and his group's plan with a slight modification."

    "?"

    "Our roles would be replaced with theirs."
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