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268 Puzzle

    Ashlyn and Kiba leaped through a hundred more trees before they sensed human presence. The trees also turned sparse and there was an open area ahead.

    Kiba followed by Ashlyn landed on the grassy ground.  They turned around and noticed a track passing through the region ahead.  The track was actually a graveled road though far away from being a proper road.

    More than ten horse-drawn wagons and carts were speeding through this track. The horses were mostly mutated Hackney and Gypsey Horses with metallic hoofs.

    While the wagons and carts were curtained, it was not difficult to guess they were carrying corpses of beasts and birds. Each vehicle was accompanied by a team of mutants who were continuously on guards. A few teams were using the help of surveillance drones for better safety.

    There were even groups who didn't have any vehicles. Some were walking on foot while a few were flying through the skies.

    Kiba noticed a team in the sky which gained his attention. The team has six members but only one of them was responsible for their flight. It was a woman in a long white dress marked with floral patterns.

    She has placed her right hand on her forehead, her eyes closed. Blue streams of telekinetic energy emitted through her forehead and surrounded the entire team in an energy barrier.

    The woman has brown skin tone with cyan hairs and eyes. She was fairly gorgeous with a stunning, petite figure but this was not the reason she caught Kiba's attention.

    Hs furrowed his bows and looked carefully at the back of the hand which she has placed on her forehead.

    There was a tattoo of a golden wheel with eight spooks.

    "Dharma Chakra," Kiba muttered.

    Months ago, Psychic Hunter Akshobhya attacked Zed by using an artificial satellite in outer space. Akshobhya tried to turn his brain into a vegetable by making his mind overloaded with stress and fatigue.

    After some struggle and help from Claudia, he was able to transform into Kiba. In the battle that followed, he copied Akshobhya's psychic ability and retaliated by using the satellite connection to establish a reverse link. Thanks to this link and the shock factor, he was able to peek a scene from Akshobhya's memories.

    The scene was of the Dharma Chakra gate outside the monastery.

    Since Akshobhya was far stronger than him in psyche and knew how to hide his memories, Kiba was not able to check more memories.

    He has sensed the awe, respect, and fear that monk held for Dharma Chakra.

    At the end of the battle, the monk offered to explain why he targetted Kiba if the latter showed mercy. Kiba obviously was not in the mood for clemency after how the monk stated his plans of dissecting his unborn daughter.

    Not to mention, he was so furious that he didn't care for reasons. All he wanted was to ensure the monk lived a life far worse than death.

    And he did what he set out to do.

    Akshobhya's present state was such that it invoked pity and terror from anyone who saw him.

    Later on, after Kiba has rested enough and calmed his mind, he realized the initial target of the monk was Zed and not Kiba. The monk only lusted after his powers when he transformed into Kiba. So it confirmed for him that the monk was not aware of his other form when he targetted him.

    This obviously startled him.

    He could understand people coming after Kiba but not Zed. So he wanted to know Akshobya's reason.

    Obviously, he didn't know Akshobhya's identity, status or location. So he knew he has to rely on the scene he has seen in Askhobhya's memories.

    Based on info he got from Claudia and Eva, he theorized the monk was affiliated to Dharma Chakra. He didn't know what type of organization Dharma Chakra was nor its aim.

    "I must find a way to get information about Dharma Chakra from her," Kiba thought as the woman in the sky rushed forward.

    It was obvious she and her group were going to The Desolate Fair just like others on the ground.

    Kiba and Ashlyn also stepped on the track and walked ahead. Many groups did notice them but no one openly displayed nefarious intentions this close to their destination.

    Men were stunned by Ashyln's breathtaking beauty, but contrary to her expectations, they quickly shook their heads and turned away.

    Both Kiba and Ashlyn were bewildered by the response. Why isn't anyone trying to take advantage of her?

    "Are they gay or asexual?" Kiba mused.

    Ashlyn was obviously disappointed by such reaction from potential practice targets. While she wasn't aware of her spellbinding beauty, its effect on the opposite gender, love, or how relationships functioned; she knew she was a magnet that attracted evil men who always loved to speak bad things to her.

    Such men would speak things like 'you would not be able to walk straight for days,' 'rock your world', 'show you a good time,' 'make you scream,' and so on.

    She did not understand the meaning of such terms but the tone and expression used by men made her sure they didn't have good intentions. So she didn't felt any guilt when she practiced her nutcracking art on such people.

    She glanced at Kiba as she recalled how he planted the idea for this art. She genuinely admired his intelligence and his ability to think of devilish schemes to get what he wants.

    When she thought of this, she let out a soft sigh. She remembered the last time he taught her something was after he shared body heat with Anya. He has explained to her how to use the surrounding for benefit and scheme wisely to achieve desired efforts.

    As they walked forward, Ashlyn poked him.

    "Hmm?" Kiba looked at her.

    "It has been a while since you taught me," Ashlyn said in her usual cold and emotionless tone.

    ".........." Kiba's breathing turned rugged while his back turned cold.

    Teach her?!

    No way!

    "I only shared general wisdom but she learned sinister arts!" Kiba was terrified of her. The first time he taught her to work smart, she actually learned the art of nutcracking. The second time he explained her 'wedding food' scheme but she learned how to act cute before kicking the enemy in his balls.

    He has already realized his teachings were dangerous for society. She was already a threat to men with two lessons.

    So what would happen if he shared some wisdom and once again she learn something threatening?!

    Kiba was curious but he didn't want to find out. He couldn't bring himself to endanger his gender by helping her.

    But how was he supposed to refuse her?

    She rarely speaks much less request for something. Not to mention, he did like her due to the help she provided to him.

    "What to do?" Kiba started sweating.

    On one side was his own gender and on another side was an alluring woman. The choices were tough but he made a decision in less than a minute.

    Kiba took a deep breath before saying, "The supreme art of war is to subdue an enemy without fighting."

    Ashlyn continued to look at him for further explanation. What he said was rather vague and not helpful like the previous lessons he shared. Then again, in those two lessons, he has shared practical examples.

    "This time I will give you a question," Kiba said while stepping ahead. "Find its answer and you will learn something good."

    This was actually a compromise he decided to have. He couldn't fully betray his own gender so he decided to insert this problem.

    If she could indeed solve the question, then....well. it was not his fault. It would only mean Lady Luck didn't like men.

    Ashlyn nodded her head in agreement. She thought he was trying to exercise her brain so she was grateful.

    She was a bit nervous though since she didn't understand human relationships due to her upbringing as a cursed one. Still, she wouldn't give up before she heard the puzzle.

    "Let's say, there is a man living in a city. He is an ordinary, weak mutant living a normal life," Kiba started his puzzle. "He is happily married and devoted to his children. One day, by an accident, he discovers that his wife is having an affair with his best friend who is also married. The man continues to play the role of an ignorant husband while he thinks of a way forward.

    "The man is obviously hurt by the betrayal and he knows he couldn't forget or forgive. A divorce might be the next apparent step but he dreads divorce. Since the city is governed by laws and is basically a no fault area, he knows the family court would ruin him by giving his kids to the wife. Furthermore, the wife would take at least 50% of his assets while making him pay child support and so on. The man thinks it would be unfair for him so he rules out this step. He also doesn't consider informing the wife of his friend. While he understands the wife of his friend is innocent and a victim just like him, the first thing he wants to ensure is his own good. You can say the man has become cynical due to the tragic events."

    Ashlyn silently listened to the information.

    "Now, he is living in a law and order society. That means he could not resort to murder, kidnapping, poisoning, and such means," Kiba gave a short pause before continuing. "After all, there is a heavy chance of him being discovered by law agencies. So what should he do to get both justice and revenge?"

    Ashlyn processed everything he has said. It was obvious the man could not use force. Since the man was an ordinary mutant that meant he didn't have godly abilities (mind control, reality warping, etc) which could easily solve this problem.

    Hiring professionals would be impossible since the man was living a normal life which was a nice way of saying he was not rich.

    The courts were obviously out of question due to their idea of justice.

    Ashlyn felt the question was far too difficult for her to answer. Firstly, she didn't know much about relationships much less close bonds like marriage or friendship. And secondly, she has lived a closed life so her exposure to the world was limited.

    Ashlyn pondered for a long time while she and Kiba covered almost a mile on foot. She didn't want to accept defeat since this question was a means to earn wisdom.

    It was afternoon and the sun was increasing the temperature. But given their powers, they were unaffected and Ashlyn didn't even notice the time.

    "Hint?" Ashlyn said after some time.

    "Well..." Kiba thought for a few moments before saying, "A mind is a terrible thing."

    "?" Ashlyn looked at him in confusion. Was that supposed to be a hint to the solution?

    "Yeap, that was a hint," Kiba answered her unasked question.
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