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233 Eat?!

    (A/N: An extra long chapter of 3.2K+ words!)

    High in the air, the serpent was greatly alarmed as the discs sliced through its tail.  A ripping sound ensued as if the discs were tearing through a sheet of paper and not some powerful being.

    Two large portions of the tail slumped down on the ground along with a rain of green blood. Poisonous mist rushed out from the blood, filling the air with waves of a life-threatening toxin.

    The discs, in the meantime, swept past the remaining body of the serpent, leaving two trails of blue blaze. Before, the serpent spanned over a hundred meters but now less than fifty.

    The serpent grunted in pain and its eyes were filled with hatred and malice. Centuries ago, in its prime, such powerful attack would not even produce a scratch. Now it was only a fragment of its past glorious self, at best with a fraction of its true strength and no energy to use its innate abilities.

    It wanted to swallow Kiba and recover a portion of its strength, but now it has actually lost more than it could afford.

    The long slumber has drained its vitality and it no longer had the power to regenerate its missing tail. It turned around and looked towards the ground with deep resentment.

    In the middle of a crater, Ashlyn was standing, her eyes focused in the sky. The black suit clad on her body was engulfed in streams of energy currents. The discs returned to her hands after turning into their original size. She clad them back on her wrists like bracelets.

    Ashlyn's body suddenly trembled and she spat out a mouthful of blood. She raised her hand and wiped the blood from her lips.

    As he lowered her hand, blood started dripping from her eyes and ears. Her senses burned with a piercing pain but she didn't let out a single grunt.

    She opened her left palm and focused at its center. Seven colorful runic seals were visible, and currently, three seals - blue, indigo, and violet- were filled with heavy cracks.

    "Haah," Ashlyn closed her eyes and let out a heavy sigh as she felt her knees buckling from weakness and exhaustion.

    As she slumped down, a hand wrapped around her shoulders and provided her support. She opened her eyes and looked at the familiar presence from her blurry vision.

    "Thanks," Kiba said with a smile.

    Ashlyn didn't reply but nodded before focusing at the serpent who was rushing down. A monstrous aura filled with heavy killing intent surged out of its body as it shot forward.

    The serpent hard turned insane from anger, and all it wanted to do was chump these humans.

    "Girl, I'm going to eat you!" The serpent's voice was filled with sinisterness.

    "Stop daydreaming, idiot," Kiba said as he opened a teleportation portal. "I have wanted to eat her from the first time I saw her, but so far it has just been a pipe dream."

    Ashlyn blinked and looked at him in confusion. The snake was angry but this remark made it equally bewildered. It stopped in its track, trying to understand the intention of this human male.

    Obviously, neither of them understood Kiba's meaning of "eat".

    Ashlyn wanted to ask what he meant, but then the sucking force from the teleportation engulfed them, and they disappeared in a blinding flash of light.

    "That human tricked me!" The serpent hissed in fury while sweeping its body around, creating giant holes.

    "Oh please, give me a break and stop being so full of yourself," A familiar voice came from behind, filled with mocking laughter.

    The serpent turned around and noticed Kiba floating in the air.

    "You sure are in a mess," Kiba pointed at its missing portion of the body. "How would you copulate and spread your killer breath to the next generation?"

    Earlier, if not for Ashlyn's interference, he would have summoned his full powers. Now, he didn't need to, or to be precise he didn't want to.

    After all, when he uses his true powers, every living being within a radius of 200 kilometers turns into nothingness. The pressure from the golden lightning - as it tries to enter Earth - was not something he could stop.

    While he felt no special regard for humans or other living beings here, he didn't want to kill them for no fault of theirs. He would not even have planned to use his true powers against the serpent if not for it using psychic attack and reminding him of Akshobhya.

    "Human, stop being so rude," The serpent scuttled out and pounced straight on Kiba. Its mouth releasing waves of poisonous energy that rushed at Kiba.

    Kiba laughed and disappeared from his spot, leaving behind an afterimage. The poisonous energy swept through the afterimage like water through the air.

    The serpent twisted its body in midair and whipped out its body like a hammer towards the sky. Kiba who was charging at the serpent stopped in slight amazement. He moved his hand forward and formed a transparent shield.

    The serpent's body viciously slammed against the shield. Cracks appeared on the shield, but they were filled just as they appeared.

    "I can be anything but not rude," Kiba said as he raised his other hand.

    A golden energy beam boomed out of his palm in an explosive manner. The serpent coiled its body and darted to a side to avoid the beam.

    The energy beam crashed on the ground, creating a loud blast.

    "You humans owe me and yet you are so ungrateful," The serpent soared into the sky with its mouth wide open.

    "Owe?" Kiba was surprised.

    "I'm an Immortal Devourer Serpent," The serpent answered with deep hatred. "The resources you humans extracted from that cave originated from me!"

    The Immortal Devourer Serpents could reincarnate from themselves when they sloughed their skins. This way they could continue their existence for such a long time that they were considered immortal.

    In their prime ages, they would swallow entire continents to satisfy their hunger. As such, they would absorb various treasured items.

    A long time ago, due to various reasons when the meteorites crashed on Earth, the serpent was locked in a world-mending stone while the space debris created the cave with the stone as its core.

    Every few years, the serpent would slough its dead skin to continue its existence. And from this skin, the resources it has once consumed would come out. Thanks to the mutation from the space debris, the resources would appear throughout the cave almost as rewards.

    For the serpent, those resources were negligible but for humans, they were a considerable amount. This cycle of sloughing has continued for centuries, and with time, the serpent weakened and its body reduced to the current condition.

    "Ah!" Kiba nodded in understanding and asked, "So you were basically a garbage disposal box where people discarded metals and stones?"

    The pupils of the serpent dilated in fury.

    It was an Immortal Devourer Serpent and not some garbage box! How could the human associate such crude words to its existence?!

    The serpent arrived above him and crunched down on him, its fangs glinting with sharpness. At the final moment, Kiba turned into mist and escaped from its clutches.

    "You sure are weak for an alien species," Kiba said as he appeared a few hundred meters away.

    "You know about my origin?" The serpent was startled.

    "Isn't that rather obvious after the nonsense you have sprouted about yourself?" Kiba asked in a mocking tone.

    "Mind your tongue, human!" The serpent's body flickered and it flew towards him again, emanating a murderous aura. "I'm suggesting to you for the final time!"

    "In this world, there are only four people who have the right to advise or suggest to me," Kiba said as streams of golden energy began concentrating on his right palm.

    The air around him started vibrating with a buzzing sound while the very space began shaking. The winds turned heavy and icicles appeared in the air.

    "And a subject of Scarlet Leila De Rose is not one of those four," Kiba snapped his hand tightly into a fist.

    "WHAT?!" The serpent looked at Kiba with utter shock and disbelief. Its mind was filled with a deep sense of dreadness and awe as it heard the esteemed name it hasn't heard from centuries.

    The shock was so high that for a moment it forgot the powerful attack Kiba was launching. The serpent stood there in midair with astonished expression.

    Kiba's lips rose up in a smirk and he rushed at the serpent like a bolt of lightning.

    Suddenly, an intense sense of crisis rose in the serpent's heart, and it regained clarity. It was stunned and afraid as Kiba's fist came crashing down, giving it no time to evade.

    In normal times, its speed was so fast that even Kiba would have trouble up coping, but now there was no opportunity to dodge much less flee.

    "This time I actually used a trick, idiot," Kiba said as his punch viciously smashed on its head. "So feel free to complain in the afterlife."

    "No!" The serpent cried as powerful vibrations transferred from Kiba's fist to its head. The vibrations were filled with an explosive energy that made its blood transmute at a terrifying speed.

    It was like a formless burst of energy was suddenly powering its blood cells, creating utmost chaos in its body organs. Its veins ripped apart under the might of the powerful force in blood.

    The explosive energy rampaged throughout its body before strucking on its flesh.

    Sss

    The dark scales on its outer body cracked apart like cobwebs, and from the cracks, a flash of golden light swept out.

    The air exploded in multiple blinding flashes of light, encapsulating the serpent and everything within its vicinity. Kiba opened a teleportation portal and disappeared just as the light exploded in destructive waves.

    BOOOM

    A powerful explosion spanning for miles burst out, erasing everything in its path.  Terrifying ripples swept past and an ear-piercing sound reverberated in the forest.

    From many corners of the forest, almost everyone felt heavy rumblings in the land as the shockwaves spread through ground and air. All they could see was a golden mushroom cloud with a shade of corrosive green.

    A few miles away from the explosion site, the humans and beasts - who have run for cover - were terrified as the shockwaves from the impact of the blast send them flying.  Some crashed on trees whole others sprawled over ground.

    "A blast created by a Level VII mutant!" A middle-aged man shouted after checking a reading on his watch.

    "Are you kidding?!" Another man asked. Initially, they were enemies but under the horrifying energy clash, they let go of their enmity and fleed.

    "Yes," the man answered, his face drenched in cold sweat.

    If such powerful beings were fighting in this area of the forest then what would happen in the core region?!

    "He has to be right! Only this could explain such destructive force!" A woman joined in and said.

    "Two explosions of such epic scales in less than an hour!"

    "Fuck! We shouldn't have come to the forest!"

    "I'm leaving this land of death!"

    A few minutes later, on the blast site, the smoke and dust settled down, revealing a giant crater.

    Far above, Kiba looked at the crater without any emotions. Suddenly, his eyes were filled with shock as he noticed the familiar presence.

    "It survived!?" Kiba thought as he teleported away.

    The serpent's head was shattered, exposing scorched flesh and blood. The rest of its body was in a similar state, and yet, it was alive.

    "Are you sure you are an Immortal Devourer Serpent and not Undying Cockroach?" Kiba asked as he arrived in front of the serpent.

    The serpent turned its broken head towards him. Its pupils covered with green blood, and a portion of its eyes was charred black.

    "Human... you are truly vicious," The serpent muttered, its voice shaking.

    "Says a serpent who wants to swallow me," Kiba waved a hand and a boulder shot out of the crater. The boulder landed behind him and he took a seat on it.

    "It isn't..." The serpent trailed off.

    "Isn't what?" Kiba looked at him with slight interest.

    "Over!" The serpent opened its mouth and a finger-long incorporeal snake shot out.

    "Hmm?" Kiba raised his hand to catch it but then his eyes flickered with shock. The snake abruptly changed its direction and transformed into a blurry line as it left the crater.

    The serpent's body shook and its aura turned weaker.

    "Don't tell me?!" Kiba jumped back on his feet and teleported away.

    "No use of struggle," the serpent said as its eyes closed. "It might not work on you but there are others who don't use our powers..."

    The serpent trailed off in the middle as its final bit of lifeforce extinguished.

    Fifteen miles away.

    Ashlyn was sitting on the ground with her back against a tree. She retrieved a bottle of pills and took out five round pills. Each pill was crystalline yellow with a faint silver coating and a black dot in the center, emitting a strange but strong medical aroma.

    Suddenly, the sound of wind rustling reverberated in the area.

    She looked at her side and saw a snake shooting towards her. Before she could even blink, the snake bit on her cheek.

    The snake's eyes were filled with sinisterness as it impaled its fangs in her skin.

    "Your genes would give me a new life-----"

    The look in the snake's eyes quickly changed as it swallowed its words. Its eyes were now filled with panic and disbelief.

    "No! This is impossible!  How is it possible for you to have such strength with such genetic essence?! You neither have the power of Cosmic nor the Divine---Wait! You are a curse---"

    The snake trailed in between as it whispered and thought of multiple possibilities, and just then it felt a terrifying pressure engulfing its body. It turned around and saw Kiba.

    "Wait! We can still discuss!" The snake tried to buy time now that it failed on whatever it has in mind.

    "Sure," Kiba said as he shot an energy beam. "Discussion over."

    "AHH!" The snake screamed before fading from existence like water vapor.

    Ashlyn brought the back of her hand to rub the bite mark. She remained oblivious to Kiba's arrival.

    "Are you alright?" Kiba didn't wait for her to reply as he proceeded to put a hand on her forehead.

    Ashlyn was startled and she sent a palm crashing on him. The black fabric on her palm glinted as a blue energy ripple burst out and struck Kiba in his chest. Caught off-guard, Kiba was sent flying in the air before he struck his feet forcefully in the ground to stop.

    Ashlyn lowered her hand as she realized what she has done. She closed her eyes before saying, "I'm sorry, it was a reflex."

    Kiba observed her for a moment, and said, "Are you feeling well?"

    Ashlyn nodded before consuming the pills she has retrieved. The snake mark on her cheek was negligible in size but it was striking on her creamy-white skin.

    "Can I?" Kiba asked as he crouched down.

    Ashlyn shook her head as she gulped down water from a bottle.

    "...Ok," Kiba stood up with slight embarrassment. He was planning to use his healing powers but since she didn't want him to, he could only give up.

    Slowly, the bite mark on her skin faded.

    Kiba wasn't surprised and his eyes unconsciously moved away from her to the pill bottle. He looked at them and his pupils dilated. He enveloped his senses on the pills to confirm his guess, and as he did, his heart swelled in shock.

    "They are..." Kiba stopped as he felt her gaze locked on him.

    "None of your business," Ashlyn coldly said before taking away the bottle. Energy currents enveloped the bottle and it disappeared in specks of light.

    Kiba turned around and sighed. He has some guesses in his mind but he really didn't want to think about them now.

    "I'm bringing back our loot," Kiba said as he teleported away.

    Ashlyn didn't reply and she closed her eyes.

    ***

    A few hours later.

    Hundreds of jars were placed on the ground, filled with Spatial Golden Sand. The sand particles glittered like the granular particles of the galaxy, making one feel awe and leave behind a profound feeling.

    Then there were other equally treasured items such as Bolognium, Adamantine, Vajra, Magnetic Silverion, Mystic Gold, and a dozen more items.

    Every single item would cost at least a few millions and some of them could not even be purchased with money. Now though there were hundreds of every item. Even Ashlyn was startled as she observed the loot in front of her eyes.

    She now felt the adventurists from whom they earlier stole were actually beggars. She turned towards Kiba and said, "How?"

    "What we stole earlier was lost in that explosion," Kiba answered as he sat alongside her. "These items are from that serpent's body."

    It has taken him hours to retrieve the treasured metals and precious stones from the serpent's corpse.

    Ashlyn also has a slight understanding based on what she contemplated from the words the serpent spoke in her presence.

    In fact, perhaps the most precious part of the serpent was actually its body. Its gallbladder and every other organ were worth hundreds of millions since they had strong use for research and genetic purpose. Sadly, Kiba has destroyed those organs pretty badly when he launched the final attack. Even then, they were perhaps the richest adventurists as long as only the resources from the forest were counted.

    "50-50?" Kiba asked.

    Ashlyn nodded in agreement.

    "Good," Kiba smiled before adding, "Can I suggest something?"

    Ashlyn turned towards him, waiting for him to speak.

    "Could we stop owing each other favor?"

    He was pretty sure she helped him against the serpent in order to return the 'favors' she believed she owed him for the robbing scheme. Her earlier actions made him believe of this conjecture.

    Ashlyn observed him and then shook her head in disagreement.

    "...Ok," Kiba scratched the back of his head. "Let me prepare dinner."

    If she doesn't want to agree, how can he force her to agree on such a matter?

    ...

    An hour later.

    A juicy and tempting aroma emitted from a large utensil placed over burning logs. Kiba took two bowls and filled them with soup and meat pieces. He then passed a bowl to his companion who sitting on a stone.

    Ashlyn was impressed after she smelled the fragrance from the soup. She took a sip and was genuinely astonished by the taste. The soup was not only tasty but it was also healthy and nourishing. As the soup coursed towards her belly, she felt streams of energy flowing out, making her feel rejuvenated.

    Kiba has prepared the soup through various herbs and spices along with meat from a level IV beast. So it was nothing surprising for the soup to have strong medicinal properties.

    Kiba sat beside her and started devouring the soup. As a mutant, his appetite was strong and he needed lots of energy.

    Ashlyn chewed a meat piece, and she did, she recalled something.

    "What did you mean when you said you wish to eat me?" Ashlyn asked in her usual cold voice.

    Kiba has just taken a meat piece in his mouth, and when he heard her words, he choked up. The meat piece struck in his throat while sweat began dripping from his forehead...
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