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269 Confrontation

    The evergreen forest was sparse of trees in this part of the forest. The dazzling sun brightened the sky with scorching blue.

    Wagons, carts, and people continued to flow through the graveled road. Everyone's destination was The Desolate Fair.

    Ashlyn pondered possible solutions to the puzzle Kiba has given to her.

    From the information he has shared, it was evident the man in puzzle didn't want to reconcile with his wife. So a separation was obvious but the question was how without losing children and assets in a divorce while also taking revenge on his wife and his best friend. The man was not strong nor had any amazing abilities nor he was rich so his choices were very limited. The only advantage he had was that the adulterous pair were not aware of his knowledge about their affair.

    Ashlyn's thought of something.

    Didn't Kiba give her this puzzle so that she could grasp the wisdom he has shared?

    "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting."

    It was apparent the solution to this puzzle was in these words.

    Then she recalled the hint he shared: "A mind is a terrible thing."

    Ashlyn tried to connect the hint with the wisdom along with the details from the puzzle.

    Kiba looked at her and smiled. The solution to this problem was very hard.

    In this modern era, there were no adultery laws and divorce was no fault even if adultery was cited as a reason. The man in the puzzle could not depend on the courts but he also could not take revenge by ancient methods such as murder, kidnapping or poisoning. If he takes law in his hand then he would risk jail time and if he relied on courts, he would lose assets and custody of his children. No matter how one looked, the man was trapped in one way or the other.

    With such conditions how was the man supposed to have revenge without losing anything?

    "Ashlyn," Kiba called her out.

    She turned towards him.

    "You wouldn't be able to think of an answer in such a short time," Kiba said with a faint smile. "So relax and ponder over it when you are free."

    Ashlyn nodded. She obviously understood he would not give her a puzzle which she could solve in a short time.

    "If you fail to find a solution then you don't have to feel bad," Kiba further added in a sincere tone. "No one is perfect or fully wise. A problem I find impossible to solve might take you a minute to answer and vice versa. We all have our strong and weak points."

    Ashlyn was surprised by his words. She once again nodded and thus assuring him she would not lose sleep over this.

    "Great," Kiba secretly sighed in relief. In the future, if she failed to find an answer then he would share the solution with her.

    VROOM

    The sound of wheels skidding on road surface ringed from behind.

    "Hmm?"

    Kiba and Ashlyn jumped to a side and narrowly missed a vehicle brushing past them. It was a modern open jeep.

    A group of five were in the jeep. They continued to drive the jeep without caring about the people on the track.

    The people were startled and offended but they ignored the impudence of the group. In the forest, very few could successfully bring modern vehicles to this part of the forest given the dangers lurking in the shadows.

    Most vehicles were horse-drawn wagons or carts which were manufactured here. The teams on foot assumed the group in the jeep was either strong or had great influence if they dared act so brazenly. It was wise to ignore them for their attitude instead of starting a conflict which might end badly. After all, even if they defeated the group they might be harmed in the process and it was not worth the efforts for such a small episode.

    "No one here has any guts," The man driving the jeep said aloud. He loved the feeling of showing the adventurists their place.

    "Austin, let's slam the jeep on that team ahead," A man from a seat behind said.

    "Good idea, Farhan," Austin readily agreed to the proposal.

    Can anything be more exciting than holding other's life in one's own hand? The thrill of playing with preys was the best sensation a human could ever have.

    Austin placed his hand on the gear knob to change the gear. He moved the gear ahead but the jeep stopped instead of an increase in speed.

    The impact of the sudden stop made everyone jerk. The heads of the three members on back seats collided against the front seats.

    "What the hell are you doing?" A man named Ricky cursed Austin.

    "I didn't do anything," Austin checked the gear knob but it was fine.

    "Then why the heck did jeep stopped?" A man named Keith angrily asked.

    He checked around and noticed the people on the road were looking at them with an amused expression. He realized they have noticed how they collided against the seats. It embarrassed him to no end to know others were having fun at their expense.

    "I don't know," Austin answered with a frowning expression.

    "I know," A voice came from everywhere and nowhere. "Should I explain?"

    Austin, Keith, Ricky, Farhan, and Spencer were startled. Just then, the three on the back seats were slammed to the doors by a walloping force. This created enough space in the middle seat for a new person.

    On the seat, rays of white light appeared out of thin air and converged into Kiba.

    Austin and Keith who were in the front were shocked.

    Before they could react, Kiba gripped Austin's head from behind and crashed it on the digital fuel screen next to the speedometer.

    "See there is no fuel in the car," Kiba patiently explained while continuing to hold Austin's head. "And without a source of energy, the jeep can't magically run ahead with a load of five idiots."

    No fuel?! How?!

    The others in the back seats regained their wits. They acted at the same time and attacked Kiba but he disappeared in thin air.

    "Who the hell was he?" Austin felt nauseous.

    "No idea but we would teach him a lesson he will never forget," Reith muttered, his eyes bloodshot.

    "Let me teach you a lesson first," Kiba said as he appeared in front of the jeep. "Don't degrade the forest with pollution."

    As the group jumped to take action, Kiba flipped a finger on the hood of the jeep.

    Circles of energy swept out of his finger. With a bang sound, the windshield and other parts shattered into pieces while the circles of energy moved forward.

    The group was startled and quickly leaped out of the jeep as the seats exploded into fragments. The impact from the explosion sent the jeep flying into the air before crashing down on the ground.

    Sparks, smog, and splinters erupted from the wreckage of the jeep. Ther group darted to avoid splinters and the shockwaves.

    "Son of a bitch!" Austin's veins bulged out of his neck.

    It was very difficult to have a modern vehicle in this part of the forest and now it was destroyed in just a minute.

    The others from his group arrived next to him and looked at Kiba with venomous hatred.

    Austin's muscles popped out of his clothes. Slowly, he morphed and his entire body was enveloped with dark titanium steel.

    "I'm more than enough to kill him," Austin stopped his friends from taking action. "That bastard would regret provoking us."

    The others nodded in agreement. Austin was a level III mutant, just a step away from being a Beta. Most people in the forest were either level I or level II. Betas were sparse and Alphas were as rare as unicorn horns.

    This knowledge and his trust in his own strength gave him utmost confidence in tackling his opponent.

    His group members had the same confidence in him. Sure Kiba has destroyed their jeep but they believed it was due to the surprise factor.

    Now that Austin has decided to settle scores there was no way Kiba would live much less escape. This was a good way to regain the respect they lost and also terrorize the spectators.

    Some teams and solo adventurists stopped in their paths to observe the fight while others ignored and continued their journey ahead.

    "Get ready to die!"

    Austin leaped forward like a ferocious beast. Gravel flew in the air while dust swept out as he stretched his hands.

    Columns of dark molten metal shot out with a seething sound.

    The molten metal stretched out like waves before enveloping an area of hundred meters into a cocoon. From the outside, it was like a volcanic metal has formed a barrier from all sides.

    "Don't even think you can escape now," Austin has a smirk on his face. He could imagine how his enemy would beg for mercy while trying to flee in the next few minutes.

    "Sure, I won't ever think of escaping," Kiba assured him.

    "You really don't know what is good for you!" Austin raised his right hand. "I will let you experience pain you arrogant bastard!"

    The dark metallic liquid below Kiba's feet started bubbling up. Fine threads leaped out and started wrapping around his feet.

    Each thread was as heavy as a giant pillar and as hot as a wildfire. Kiba continued to remain unfazed and relaxed.

    "Arrogant?" Kiba has a playful smile on his lips. "I guess I can't disagree."

    BANG

    Golden streams of light flashed around him while his aura exploded out fiercely. The metallic chains split into drops of liquid before evaporating. The aura was filled with an annihilative force that wreaked destruction as it moved forward.

    The molten liquid on the ground and in the air started fading under the onslaught of the terrifying aura.

    Austin's pupils dilated in disbelief. Even though his body was covered with titanium steel, he felt a numbing sensation all over his body.

    "What are you?!" Austin's heart was filled with an ominous feeling.

    "An arrogant bastard," Kiba answered as his body disappeared and appeared right in front of Austin.

    "!!!"

    Austin leaped backward. He gritted his teeth and his hands transformed into hammers. At the same time, molten drops of liquid started converging on his back into wings.

    He flew high in the sky while crashing his hands together. Waves of vibrations emerged out and swept towards Kiba.

    From the ground, razor-sharp, metallic needles shot at Kiba from behind. Austin flew along with the waves of vibrations, crashing down his hammers on his enemy's head.

    "Let me teach you another lesson," Kiba said while lazily stretching out a hand.

    "There is nothing wrong in being arrogant as long as you have strength or wisdom to back it up."

    Golden radiance erupted from his palm like tidal waves. The radiance concentrated into hundreds of filaments that shot all around.

    "You neither have strength or wisdom to back your attitude from before," Kiba lowered his hand. "And relying on the influence of others to be cocky is simply courting death."

    Like a sword, the filaments cleaved the incoming needles in the back while others moved in front. The filaments cascaded outward and destroyed vibrations before piercing through the hammers and other parts of Austin.

    "Ahhh!" Austin let out a heart-wrenching scream. The metallic skin on his body split like broken pieces of a mirror while blood gushed out like a fountain.

    Golden filaments rose to the sky and ripped apart the metallic cocoon, exposing the bright sky.

    Keith, Ricky, Farhan, and Spencer were shocked out of their wits. Their chest moved up and down violently as they stared at their defeated friend.

    He was defeated just like that?!

    They looked at Kiba who was standing with a nonchalant expression. His hands were in his pockets as if he was in some park.

    The other teams were also surprised by the quick resolution of battle.

    "He must be a Beta!" A treasure hunter muttered.

    "Those five have spent their luck! This is why you shouldn't be so brazen unnecessarily!" A female adventurist said to her partner.

    "Indeed. You never know you might offend someone you couldn't afford to," The woman's partner agreed.

    Kiba stretched out his hands before turning around.

    "Goodbye," Kiba said and he started walking away.

    "This is far from over!" Spencer loudly shouted while taking a martial stand. "You are alone and we are not! Get ready to pay the price for your actions!"

    How could they just let him leave after he made them lose their face in front of so many people?! If they did, then what would their organization say?! Would they even be able to show their faces in The Desolate Fair much less the core region?!

    This was not a matter of their own pride but of their organization. And pride could be only gained back by teaching that bastard a lesson!

    Blinding red orbs converged around him. The ground started cracking into spider-like threads under the intense pressure from red orbs.

    Keith raised his head and roared. His nails stretched into claws while dark stripes appeared on his face. His teeth expanded and his ears elongated into that of a beast's, his eyes turning dark and sinister.

    The others similarly prepared themselves and summoned their powers. They reasoned Kiba was a Level IV mutant - Beta but they were sure their coordination could overpower him. There was no chance he was a Level V or above otherwise why would he be going on foot?! Strong mutants were eccentric and they treated themselves with pleasure!

    Spencer controlled the dozens of orbs around him as he decided to launch the assault now that Kiba was walking ahead absentmindedly.

    "Excuse me."

    A soft, feminine voice came from behind. The voice was like the rise of the sun after a cold night, the breath of fresh spring.

    Spencer and others turned around in a daze. Their eyes popped out while their jaws dropped at the sight of world-shocking beauty.

    Ashlyn was standing there with a warm smile on her lips. Her smile was so beautiful and mesmerizing that even flowers lowered their petals in envy and shame.

    Ashlyn continued to smile warmly while taking a step ahead and coming in front of Spencer. The red orbs flashed with terrifying might but Spencer was fully focused on Ashlyn.

    "Yes?" Spencer asked.

    "Would you please rock my world?" Ashlyn asked with her infectious smile.

    Skill Activated: Acting Cute!

    The second skill she gained after Kiba explained her the wedding dinner scheme. She was clueless about what her words truly meant but from her experience, she was sure they were words that made evil men go crazy. If he answered 'yes' then that meant he was a bad guy and she could experiment with her first skill.

    Spencer's jaw dropped further. Such a gorgeous woman is asking him?!

    He has often read about love and temptation at first sight and he wondered if this woman was love struck with him for such a reason.

    He then thought of the powerful orbs of energy floating around him and was sure this also proved as an attractive feature.

    "Oh god! I'm sorry for doubting your existence!" Spencer internally cried in joy. "I will now regularly attend church and light hundreds of candles to express my gratitude."

    Farhan, Keith, and others cursed Spencer for his godly luck. This woman was flawless and no less than a legendary fairy and yet she wanted Spencer and not them.

    What's more, she was asking him and not the other way round!  Not asking for a date but for a make out!!

    Just why?!

    Farahn and others refused to believe they were any less handsome than Spencer. Heck, they were sure they were far more muscular.

    But what could they do? They could only burn in envy and try to smile forcefully in order to congratulate their friend.

    Spencer took a deep breath. Even he had hard time believing his luck but he knew he hasn't heard wrong.

    "Yes," Spencer nodded and gave his best smile. "I would love to rock your world."

    Ashlyn secretly sighed in joy. She has finally found a bad guy who agreed to be her practice target!

    "You will be gentle, right?" Ashlyn said the words she has previously heard from a group of mercenaries who tried to take to take advantage of her not so long ago. They have said words like 'Don't worry, I would be gentle, bitch!'

    She believed these words were also demeaning judging from the tone those mercenaries used. If this man agreed with her question, then he was definitely in the same league as those mercenaries.

    "Relax! I would be gentle!" Spencer was huffing with expectations. His mind was working like a machine while trying to think of spots for a tryst.

    "Thank you," Ashlyn's smile bloomed further. Her words were from her heart and she was truly grateful to this man.

    Farhan and others could not believe their ears. This woman was being grateful?! Has the sun rised from the opposite direction or was this a dream?!

    Fuck!

    Just what good deeds has Spencer done for him to have such luck?! Was he a sage in a previous life that saved thousands of lives and was getting the karmic reward now?!

    Spencer's eyes and expression was filled with naked lust. Ashlyn recalled those men she practiced her skill has the same looks on their face.

    Spencer lowered his head while closing into Ashlyn. He started closing his face with hers for a kiss with his eyes closed.

    "God! I'm truly grateful!" Spencer thought as he waited to taste her sweet lips.

    His mind was filled with ecstasy from expectations of the pleasure about to come, but just then, the expected pleasure turned into an unbelievable pain.

    CRACK

    Ashlyn's knee viciously slammed right into his balls. The force was so terrifying that his precious jewels shattered and shoved right into his bladder.

    The look of lust turned into absolute horror. The pants of expectations transformed into groans of agony...
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