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230 World-mending Stone

    Roy and Shane were startled by the conversation between Kiba and Sophia.

    "She is trying to catch him?" Roy thought, confused.

    Near the entrance, Ashlyn was also surprised by the sudden confrontation between Kiba and Sophia. She remained silent and looked at them, unsure whether she should interfere or not.

    "Catch me? Why?" Kiba asked with a bewildered expression. "Could it be for telling truth?"

    Sophia's brows creased and she gripped her fist tightly. A chilling aura emitted out of her as light raindrops appeared around her hand.

    Behind her, the air twisted and two contrasting energies appeared like an illusory image.

    "I'm catching you for lying!" Sophia replied. She hated being called a pervert for no fault of hers.

    She was bathing naked but she believed there was nothing wrong about that. How was she supposed to know he would appear in the lake during her bath?

    She could handle this but not how he passed her a recording bead filled with selective moments which showed her in a bad light. He asked her to show it to her mother to judge if she was a pervert or not.

    This obviously offended her. After all, by showing selective moments she obviously came out as a pervert despite being completely innocent.

    She respected her mom the most in the world. It was her mom who warned her about men like Kiba, and yet, he was calling her pervert by saying even her mom would agree with his assessment.

    How could she let such a shameless and despicable man run free?

    Kiba observed the streams of energy behind her as they concentrated from illusory to corporeal. Soon, a black and a white fish appeared, dancing in the air.

    "Are you sure you want to rely on Life & Death Gate?" Kiba enquired with a teasing smile.

    "..." Sophia didn't reply for didn't know the answer herself. She obviously recalled how she was defeated in the last confrontation due to her own exhaustion.

    "Life & Death Gate...mobilize the dead by sacrificing the living!" Shane was terrified.

    He has only heard about this innate ability of those from Neville Family. From what he knew, the summoner of this gate could rally anyone who has died in the area no matter the time gap.

    There was a great cost though. The summoner needed to gather a strong life force to transfer to the dead in order to materialize them in the world of the living. The only way to meet the energy demand was by sucking the vitality of living beings in the region.

    "Sophia, please don't!" Roy begged.

    He was scared of her but he mustered the courage to speak. He was truly afraid she would sacrifice them to face Kiba.

    Maybe others would be terrified of killing those from aristocrat families but she won't. After all, there existed a strong hierarchy among the nine families. And even among a particular family, there were multiple factions separated by bloodline and lineage.

    Roy and Shane were from weaker factions within their families. For the masses, they were royalty but for their families, they were just slightly more important than servants. This was why they came to the forest so that they could elevate their status in the families.

    Sophia, on the other hand, was from the main lineage of the Neville Family. Her bloodline directly stemmed from the sovereign of Neville. Within the nine families, Neville was ranked second, just after Hestia. Even if she killed Shane and Roy, at most she would be chided and barred from leaving her home for a few days.

    Conversely, if Shane and Roy killed her through luck, they would be executed on the spot and their families would pay a heavy price.

    This was the difference in status and background!

    "You are making those two ** in their pants," Kiba was amused by their expressions.

    "I don't care about them," Sophia freed her grip and the fish behind her disappeared. "But I know I'm not ready to use that power yet."

    "Ah!" Kiba was surprised by her actions. He believed she would let anger get the best out of her and become reckless.

    "I can catch you without Life & Death Gate!" Sophia's body flickered and she turned illusory. Like a thunderbolt, she appeared right in front of him, her right foot rushing at his face.

    Just as her foot was about to land on his face, he took a step behind, missing by a hairbreadth. He shot his hand at her retracing leg to grasp it, and but then, her body dissolved into droplets of rain.

    He only caught a few drops of rain in his hand and his eyes flickered.

    "Well?" Kiba threw the droplets, and just as they left his palm, they flashed with explosive might.

    BOOM

    An explosive force surged out. The limestone floor within an area of hundred meters blasted into pieces while the air was filled with powerful flames.

    Behind, Ashlyn was startled by the sudden explosive force. She leaped back as the flames of explosions swept towards her and others.

    Some distance away, Issac has just gained some relief from pain. As he rose to his feet, he hard a sound of an explosion. He turned around, and all he could see was blinding flames catching up to him.

    "Fuck! First that bitch and now this new one!" Issac cursed as his skin morphed into diamond shards. "Today is my unlucky day!"

    High in the air, a layer of misty fog appeared. Soon, the fog converged into Sophia. Her body was a mix of corporeal and incorporeal as he floated among the clouds.

    "This should teach him a lesson," Sophia murmured with her lips curled up.

    She was sure he couldn't have expected her this attack. Earlier, when she was in the midst of summoning Life & Death Gate, she has used the energy disturbance in the air to create a doppelganger without anyone realizing it.  In fact, she never planned to use Life & Death Gate. All along, she wanted to catch the shameless man off-guard.

    "Teach whom?" A familiar sound came from behind her.

    "What?!" Sophia quickly swirled around.

    Kiba was standing behind her, standing in the air. There was no sign of any injuries on his body.

    "You cheated by teleporting!" Sophia complained. Last time he similarly disappeared when she was about to catch him.

    "You cheated first by using such an underhanded attack," Kiba was entertained by her response.

    This was the only reason he enjoyed teasing her so much. She was young and naive without being affected by the cynicism of the society, and yet, she had a certain fierceness in her.

    "Then again you are a pervert so I shouldn't expect anything else," Kiba backed off as he saw her fist crashing at him. "Your mom wouldn't like this."

    "Shut up!" Sophia rushed forward. "And face me without using your cheat ability!"

    "Only if you confess to your mom about being a pervert!" Kiba said as he transformed into a stream of light and shot at the ground.

    He landed on his feet right beside Ashlyn.

    "Need help?" Ashlyn asked as she felt Sophia rushing towards him from the sky.

    "Nope, she is a friend," Kiba said with a smile as he placed a hand over her shoulder. "Let's leave."

    Ashlyn nodded her head in agreement. She has already acquired more fortune than she wanted from here, and now that females have started showing up, she felt her nutcracking art would no longer be effective. Why stay here and fight when there was no need?

    "Goodbye, miss pervert," Kiba said as he and Ashlyn were enveloped by a column of white light. "Till next time."

    "Shameless rascal! Stop!"

    Sophia jumped in the column of white light, but sadly, she was not teleported with Kiba and Ashlyn. She somersaulted through the air and tapped on the ground.

    "Scoundrel!" Sophia punched out a fist on the ground, sending powerful energy ripples throughout the area.

    RUMBLE

    The limestone floor smashed to pieces. The others who have survived the explosion started running away as they saw her removing her anger.

    "The fiend is angry!" Roy started trembling in fear.

    "We are dead!" Shion thought as tears streamed down his face.

    ***

    Some thirty miles away.

    Kiba and Ashlyn landed on a branch of an old tree. They leaped down and sat on the grass after ensuring no human presence in the area.

    Ashlyn placed her left hand on the ground. Streams of blue light shot out of her fingers and transformed into the loot they have robbed from others.

    Ashlyn took chunks of adamantine and the jars filled with spatial golden sand. She then signaled him to take the rest.

    "Sure," Kiba obviously didn't refuse.

    In the present, he was in no need of the stones and metals but who could say about the future?

    He grasped the bar of indestructible world-mending stone in his hand. A flash of white light appeared on his palm, enveloping the bar.

    Just then, Kiba's pupils dilated in shock. He threw the bar with all his might and placed his other hand on Ashlyn.

    Even before she could inquire about his strange behavior, they teleported away. The chunks of adamantine, jars of spatial golden sand, and other items of loot were left behind.

    The moment they teleported out, the stone bar which was rolling through the air cracked apart. This stone often existed at the boundaries of planets as protection since it was indestructible.

    At least, that was the belief among geologists and researchers.

    Now, the stone bar ripped apart into small fragments. As the fragment touched the ground, they erupted into surging radiance.

    BOOOM

    A deafening sound reverberated in an area of twenty sq.miles. Humans and beasts alike in the region didn't even get time to scream much less escape as a terrifying radiance, filled with scorching heat, engulfed them. The ground caved into a giant crater while the flora and fauna blasted to fine dust.

    In less than a minute, the entire region turned deadly silent...

    Some fifty kilometers away, Kiba and Ashlyn crashed on the ground.

    Ashlyn could still feel terrifying shockwaves despite the distance from the blast site. The explosion created by Sophia was fireworks compared to the eruption of the radiance just now.

    Ashlyn recalled she got the stone bar from Issac but she was sure he played no trick. Even if he could, there was no way he has the power to create destruction on such an epic scale.

    She then thought about how the bar only detonated after coming in contact with Kiba. It showed no such reaction in her hands.

    "What happened?" Ashlyn asked.

    "No idea," Kiba answered with an audible sigh. "I just sensed---"

    Kiba trailed off in the middle, and he quickly waved his hand. Streams of golden light surged out and transformed into a protective barrier.
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