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240 Gentle

    The Ice Bear's eyes burned with fury as it launched an assault on the four trespassers. The bear has no consciousness or free thinking of its own, it was just a physical form created by Iceblood Flower. Yet it was an expert in using its abilities to the maximum effect.

    Anya propelled through the air in a zig-zag manner as countless ice shards flew towards her. The ice shards were sharp and glinted with a red hue as they shot through the air.

    Anya gritted her teeth and concentrated the energy waves covering her body. The waves converged into an invisible cannon and surged towards the incoming ice shards.

    Boom.

    The ice shards shattered and their fragments crashed on the ice floor. Before Anya could sigh in relief, her eyes flashed with disbelief. She quickly raised her head towards the sky, her heart beating loudly.

    Countless ice shards and snowflakes were pouring down on her, carrying a menacing bloody aura.

    "Domain!" Anya was horrified and she started dashing away.

    Some distance away.

    The enormous paw of Ice Bear fiercely smashed on Baird. Blood splattered in air and he rolled through the air before crashing on the ground.

    "Is this the difference between levels?" Baird thought with utmost panic.

    Earlier, he thought they had a chance when he successfully channeled a heat blast through the beast, but now, when the bear started taking action for real, he realized there was no competition at all.

    "Shit!" Jane shouted in panic from far away. She didn't get much time to worry about others as a snowstorm coursed towards her. She bite her lips and projected energy outside to create a barrier.

    At the same time, Jane's husband - Morales- felt his blood turning cold as the beast pounced on him.

    He couldn't believe how things suddenly turned so worse. The mission was supposed to be easy with the help of genetically hybridized bees.  This was why he and his team agreed to take this task of plucking a Level VI flower, and now he definitely regretted the decision. He chided himself for getting cocky and bragging about the bees.

    "Professor Soln, your bees were useless!" Morales cursed.

    Alas, he didn't even have the luxury to curse as a bear's paw viciously landed on its chest. His specially manufactured clothes to prevent frost energy shattered and he collided against an ice statue.

    "Shit! Without clothes, there is a risk of risk hypothermia!" Morales bitterly thought but then he shook his head.

    Why worry about hypothermia when the beast would get him and others first?! He was sure their fate would be the same as those in ice statues...

    CRASH

    Two figures landed on the ice floor some hundred meters away. One was in a full body, tight black suit. The other was in a white shirt and black pant as if he was in a tropical land instead of in a region where the temperature was below 0.

    They were obviously none other than Ashlyn and Kiba.

    "Ice Bear and ice statues? What is going on here?" Kiba muttered loudly, his voice filled with bewilderment.

    Ashlyn pursed her lips. She couldn't believe he would ask such a question after creating the entire mess.

    Ashlyn reasoned he should have allowed the group to pluck the flower with the help of bees, and then they could have robbed from the group. This was a good plan just like the last scheme they orchestrated, and she was even dying to practice her Nutcracking Art. Sadly, Kiba went beyond her expectations.

    "New adventurists?" Baird pondered. "Judging from their reactions, they are also caught off-guard."

    Kiba looked around and his expression was of deep shock as he observed the group members.

    "There are others here!" Kiba said in surprise.

    Ashlyn ignored him and took out her discs. The bear has noticed them and it was rushing towards them.

    From all sides, ice shards and snow charged at them like waves of blood, carrying an ominous momentum.

    "Leave them to me," Kiba's voice entered her ears. Before she could nod, he turned into a series of afterimages.

    He was like a bolt of thunder as he ran in circles and punched the malevolent ice shards. His fist was like made of titanium as he shattered the powerful shards into fine pieces.

    Even before others could blink, there were no more ice shards and snow surrounding them. All they saw was an afterimage of Kiba, and the next moment, the ice shards turned into pieces.

    The bear roared angrily and threw a paw on Kiba. The statues nearby broke like pieces of frail glass and so did the frozen trees as the paw moved forward.

    "Sorry but my first priority is to help my fellow humans and not facing you," Kiba said before jumping high in the air. "Please excuse me."

    Ashlyn followed the suit and they transformed into a blurry line.

    The bear was furious and it smashed on the ground. More ice flew in the air while the floor shook as if a powerful earthquake has arrived.

    Far away, Jane was caught in a snowstorm. The energy barrier around her was cracking under the rampaging storm, and she felt her strength depleting.

    Just then, she saw Kiba barging inside the storm.

    "Need help?" Kiba asked with a smile that was filled with generosity and kindness. A smile that was like the warmth of the sun in a bitter winter.

    Jane unconsciously nodded as she sensed his chivalrous spirit.

    The storm has enveloped them both, and outside, no one could see anything other than dark snowy currents of the storm.  The snow currents continued to attack them with ice shards. Suddenly, an invisible force field surrounded them both, preventing ice shards from entering.

    "You can relax," Kiba said as his thumb and index finger arrived on her lips.

    Jane flinched and was about to back away when she noticed Kiba removing a small ice shard from the corner of her lips.

    Blood trickled down and spread across her lips. The injury was faint but she felt a chilling pain.

    "My apologies for the pain but please understand it was not intentional," Kiba apologized in a tone that resonated with her heart. "Let me clean your wound."

    Jane didn't reply, and she stupidly stared at his enticing face before locking her eyes on his. The half-golden & half-blue pupils were deep like an abyss, carrying an irresistible hypnotic charm.

    The more she observed them, the more she felt lost.

    "Can I?" Kiba asked in a gentlemanly fashion.

    Jane found herself nodding again.

    "Don't worry, I would be gentle this time," Kiba assured her.

    Jane believed him. She didn't know if it was due to his eyes or his previous actions, but she felt she could trust him, at least for now.

    Kiba leaned his head down, his lips closing dangerously to hers. He pushed his tongue out, and it swirled on her lips.

    "Ah!"

    Jane's eyes turned wide and she felt hundreds of lightning bolts striking her mind, sending a shiver of undeniable excitement throughout her body.

    Slowly, the tip of his tongue ran across her lips, licking the blood. Jane's vision darkened and she closed her eyes as she felt fireworks exploding in her mind.

    Heat warmed in her chest, and her face flushed into a crimson shade.

    "It is done, my lady," Kiba said after he retraced his tongue.

    Jane opened her eyes and looked at him.

    "I was gentle, right?" Kiba politely asked.

    "Y-yes."
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