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234 Cursed Ones

    The entire forest was deadly silent as the night took over. The sky was filled with glittering stars under whose watch savage beasts silently roamed to find new preys.

    Some miles away from an enormous crater, an advanced camping house was visible. The development of technology made it possible to carry portable houses providing both safety and the comfort of home. The camping house was one such portable device though a very costly one, something which only people from super-rich background could afford.

    Outside the house, on a big stone, a male and a female were sitting. They each had a bowl in their hands, filled with delicious soup and nourishing meat. The soup has a creamy texture while the meat was charred and emitting a smoky fragrance.

    The female was chewing a meat piece and enjoying the taste as she observed her male companion in confusion. His face was soaked wet and he was continuously coughing up.

    The two were none other than Ashlyn and Kiba.

    Ashlyn was surprised by his state. She just asked him a simple question about what he meant when he said he has wished to "eat" her. She was expecting an answer, but instead, what she got was coughing sound as he choked up on the meat he prepared with so many efforts.

    Kiba was completely caught off guard when she asked him the question and the shock made him gulp a slice of meat which ultimately got stuck in his throat.

    He has planned to enjoy the dinner and regain his energy while in the process, elevate Ashlyn's mood through this soup and meat. But even in his worst nightmares, he never thought elevating her mood would ruin his.

    How was he supposed to answer her question?! By answering honestly?!

    Obviously no!

    He could tell anything but the truth! That was his decision!

    As Kiba thought of this, his mind didn't forget to remind him of the scenes that took place some 4-5 hours ago.

    Ashlyn swiftly raising her leg and with utmost precision, kicking Issac in his treasured jewels. The sight of Issac helplessly rolling on the ground made him shudder.

    He chided himself for losing in the heat of the moment and retorting the serpent with this eating remark.

    "Here," Ashlyn handed him a water bottle.

    Kiba grasped the bottle and took a big sip. The water freed his throat from the meat and he took a long breath. He then took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his face.

    "The meat was too spicy," Kiba tried to explain the sweating.

    "It wasn't," Ashlyn disagreed. "We had far more spicy food with Amir."

    "...." Kiba wanted to weep but no matter how he tried, he couldn't shed a single tear.

    "You didn't answer my question," Ashlyn reminded coldly.

    Kiba looked at her gorgeous face, and as his eyes stared in her beautiful emerald eyes, he forgot her coldness.

    He forcefully closed his eyes and recalled the nutcracking episode to find the motivation to not to stare at her. She was the first woman who could make him enter into a trance just by her face.

    He took another sip of water before saying, "I wanted to confuse the serpent."

    Ashlyn's eyes continued to focus on him.

    "So I made a retort statement that would bewilder the serpent and give us time to teleport," Kiba concluded in a plain voice. "And you saw the result when that serpent stopped in its path."

    Initially, he was caught off guard but now that he has regained clarity, his acting skills came in use.

    As a reputed owner of the various popular franchise in Delta City, lying with a straight face came naturally to him. Otherwise, how could he fare in his line of business where everyone was his enemy?

    The success of reputed companies like Wife Pleasuring Service Ltd, Maiden's Love Circle, Mistress' Massage Centre, and Naughty Bunny Corporation was proof of his skills.

    "Hmm..." Ashlyn did recall the scene of the serpent stopping in bewilderment after hearing his words. She nodded her head after which she resumed her dinner.

    "That was close, "Kiba sighed in his heart. "She is definitely a grade 6 or higher in difficulty of seducing."

    As long as living beings have desires, they could be seduced, regardless of gender. The art of seduction solely relied on identifying the desires which the seducer could exploit for own benefit.

    Just like any art or business, the success depended on efforts, time, and talent. Sadly, Kiba lacked time, and that was especially true when he deduced she was a high-grade target who would take at least a year of efforts for him to have some success.

    This was why he didn't focus on trying to win her or get in her pants. Nor did he made any efforts in that direction.

    Strangely enough, Kiba didn't felt unhappy. On the contrary, he felt good and refreshed now that he could enjoy Ashlyn's company without any expectations.

    "Felicity did say there is a first time for everything," Kiba mused while humming a tune. "Well, this should be a first for me."

    The two completed their dinner and then stepped in their respective rooms. Kiba lay down on the bed and closed his eyes... waiting for a new day.

    ***

    The next day.

    Around 10 am.

    Kiba was standing outside the camping house. In front of him, there was a table upon which various breakfast dishes were placed.

    He has brought food supplies for months when he arrived here. The only items he needed to seek was fresh vegetables, fruits and meat, otherwise, he had everything. He even has food capsules which could provide him the required energy dose without eating any food. Obviously, as of now, he didn't have to rely on them.

    Creak.

    Kiba turned out as he heard a creaking sound. Ashlyn stepped out of the door and was surprised when her eyes moved on the lavish breakfast.

    "Good morning," Kiba greeted after taking a seat. Ashlyn nodded and sat across him.

    "Are you feeling better?" Kiba asked.

    Ashlyn nodded and started eating. Her appetite was just as strong as Kiba and in just minutes, they completed every single dish, leaving behind clean plates and empty glasses.

    "I don't know how to prepare food," Ashlyn suddenly said after finishing the breakfast.

    "Oh," Kiba was surprised that she spoke such words all of a sudden. But then again, perhaps she felt bad that he was the only one who has to cook everything.

    "I don't really mind cooking," Kiba decided to relieve her of embarrassment. "So you don't have to worry."

    "Thanks," Ashlyn expressed her gratitude.

    She then filled a glass with water before retrieving a glass bottle from her storage space. She opened the lid and took out a soft-shelled capsule.

    The capsule was transparent and gel-like, made from a vermillion substance. She stuffed the capsule in her mouth along with water.

    In the meantime, Kiba took the empty plates and cleaned the table.

    "The side effects must be severe," Kiba recalled how exhausted and weakened she was after she sliced the serpent's tail.

    Then again, if others saw her state, they would feel it wasn't anything surprising. While the serpent was weak due to the passage of the time, it was still a Level VII beast in its weakened state.

    For a person to not only survive against a low-rank Alpha but also land such a fatal injury, that itself was enough to shock the world.

    ...

    A few minutes later.

    The portable house was now in Kiba's hand in the form of a metallic cube. He transferred it to his storage space.

    Ashlyn stood beside him. Kiba turned towards her and said, "There are few herbs and fruits I want to find."

    "?"

    "Iceblood Flower, Vermilion Moon Fruit, Seven-petal Golden Rose, and Level V Three-headed Cobra's gall," Kiba mentioned the items in his list.

    "Ok," Ashlyn agreed and they once again resumed the travel. They leaped through trees and occasionally landed on the ground as they continued.

    As they tapped on a branch of a tree and jumped forward, a cheetah scuttled out of bushes and pounced on Kiba. The cheetah has its sharp claws aimed at his neck, its eyes filled with viciousness.

    It has been looking for preys and after the explosions yesterday, the population in this part of the forest has reduced significantly. Many beasts have died while others fleed, and thus seriously affecting the food cycle.

    The cheetah was obviously excited when it saw two human preys. The cheetah opened its mouth and let out a terrifying roar.

    "Haah," Kiba sighed in disappointment. He didn't really want to kill this soon in the morning but if someone wants to die, who was he to say no?

    Without wasting any more time, he flicked a finger in midair.

    The cheetah felt an intense crisis as it saw the finger expanding in its eyes.

    BANG

    The finger tapped on its head, and with a loud sound, the cheetah struck on a tree. Its head exploded in a fountain of blood.

    Ashlyn and Kiba looked at its corpse from a branch. The cheetah was just a level II beast and for them, its corpse was pretty useless.

    Kiba thought of something as they were about to leave. He snapped his fingers and a crimson capsule conjured in thin air, floating above his hand.

    He waved a finger and the capsule flew towards Ashlyn. Surprised, she took the capsule and observed it.

    The capsule was hard-shelled and it was impossible to see the powdered ingredients or miniature pellets inside it. The capsule neither emitted any fragrance nor any aura.

    "This should relieve you of the pain and exhaustion," Kiba answered her unasked question.

    Before, if any beast crossed them, it was always Ashlyn who took the action. She would be on guards and ready to use her discs. Now, while she looked fine from the outside and she showed no sign of weakness, he noticed neither her speed or senses were on the same scale.

    Ashlyn studied the pill and shook her head.

    "There would be no side effects," Kiba explained further. "The pill is only useful for those who exhausted their essence and vitality."

    Ashlyn flinched and she turned towards him.

    "Don't misunderstand," Kiba understood her worry so he quickly added. "I have them because someone close to me needs them for emergencies."

    The pill was actually for himself, or to be precise, for Zed. It was prepared in case Zed has to use cosmic power without relying on Kiba.

    As Zed, his body couldn't handle cosmic power, and as a side effect, his body would turn into a heavy mess. An example of this would be when he helped Jessica awaken back in the academy.

    Claudia manufactured those pills in the lab after Jessica episode. So far he didn't need them, and he prayed, it would remain the same in the future.

    "..." Ashlyn didn't say anything.

    "In terms of grade, that pill is at least 6," Kiba further added. "And it would have no effect on your genes."

    If he didn't feel he owed her, he wouldn't have given her this pill. Even for him, such types of pills were very costly. Only he and Claudia knew how many resources they have to "borrow" to prepare this.

    Ashlyn was alarmed by the mention of the grade. She thought - as long as he wasn't lying - the pill has to be manufactured in an advanced laboratory under the observation of a high-ranking genetic scientist.

    "Thank you very much," Ashlyn said with a rare smile.

    Kiba entered into a trance as soon as the smile registered in his eyes. The smile was faint but it was far more beautiful than the blooming of a flower or the warm sky.

    "I truly appreciate the gesture but this won't work on me," Ashlyn's eyes were filled with self-ridicule. "I'm what those blessed by evolution calls as cursed one."

    Kiba's expression changed drastically and his heart shook. As her words set in his mind, he recalled how the serpent reacted when it couldn't use her as per its plans, and then the crystalline yellow pills she consumed.

    Kiba couldn't even think of how to respond. He stared at her as she moved forward and put the pill on his palm.

    Without waiting for another moment, she leaped from the tree and proceeded ahead, leaving Kiba behind.

    "Cursed one..."
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