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271 Impartial

    Northern-East Region, Desolate Blood Forest.

    An area of approx 10 sq.km was barricaded by gigantic walls and steel fences. Drones and robotic insects soared on the border to prevent any possible beast tide.

    Inside the walls, there were wooden and concrete infrastructures connected by streets. In the extreme corners, there were helipads and airways which were constantly guarded by droids and humans alike.

    A cargo plane took off after beast corpses and treasured minerals were stored in it. To protect from the dangers in the wilderness, the plane was surrounded by a force field.

    On the ground, every single street in the area was weaved with streams of people. The sea of people was filled with every race and ethnicity. White, black, brown, and so on...the color of skin holding no significance in the current era. The attire spread in various ranges; not only in design and style but material as well.

    Kiba and Ashlyn were walking on one such street while observing their surrounding. Ashlyn was her usual cold and showed no interest, unlike Kiba who looked at everything with interest.

    Before arriving in the forest, his experience was limited to Delta City. He was curious about the lifestyle of people from other parts of the world and the current situation offered him a cursory glance.

    He turned around and noticed many shops and stalls. He even noticed a brothel very far away which amused him to no end. If not for his female companion, he might have wanted to it check around. Of course, it was only to expand his horizons and ensure it was of standard quality...

    Kiba and Ashlyn walked for a few minutes when their attention was suddenly caught by loud cheers.

    "Kill!"

    "Don't let him live!"

    "Kill?" Kiba was amazed. He knew the rules of this fair didn't allow killing so why were dozens of people shouting for someone to be killed.

    Curiosity made him step towards the source of the commotion. He noticed around fifty people standing in a circle; their heads lowered to observe the scene in the middle.

    Kiba followed their eyesight and noticed a twenty-meter wide pit. The boundary walls of the pit were lit with flames while the top of the pit was covered with needle-thin metallic wires emitting bolts of current.

    In the center of the pit, a man and a savage Level II wolf were facing each other. On a corner, a woman and a child were sitting; their faces filled with terror.

    "Dad! Please be safe!" The child muttered while his mother closed his eyes.

    The wolf pounced on the man's chest and clamped down its jaw to chew his flesh. The man disintegrated into streams of smoke and appeared behind the wolf. In the smoke form, the man knocked his elbow on the back of the wolf with a heavy force. The wolf slammed on the rough floor but it quickly got on its four and roared viciously while eyeing the mother-child duo before focusing on the man.

    Kiba was startled by the situation.  He understood what was going on inside the pit; the man has to defeat the wolf to save his family while the wolf has to kill the man and his family to survive. It was a standard dog-eat-dog setting with a humane touch.

    While he understood what, he didn't understand why here given the rules of the fair.

    "They have the bloodline of Renegades," Ashlyn answered his unasked question while pointing at an unsightly imprint on the neck of the man fighting in the pit.

    "Ah!" Kiba nodded in understanding.

    A long while ago, Eva has informed him the nine families have legal rights to take slaves. This was shocking for him since the world government has pretended to be champion of humanity. The historical records, annual holidays, media and so on were filled with valore of Nine Sovereigns who did everything for the freedom and equal rights of all.

    Obviously, the censorship and propaganda powers of the government helped in hiding the dark side of nine families.

    Still, Kiba was confused about what type of people the nine families could take for slaves. He was sure they could not take anyone they wish as slaves given the constitution on which government was established.

    Eva has said the only requirement was they have to be associated with Renegades - the descendants of the royal and noble dynasties which ruled various kingdoms and empires on Earth before the arrival of evolution comet and the founding of the world government.

    From the known history, it has been said the surviving members of these clans established Lizenea - The nation of revolutionaries. The history propagated by the government said these members were spared by the sovereigns in mercy but they didn't appreciate kindness.

    Kiba did understand this information was either fabricated or only half-truth. After all, wasn't it said cut grass and pull out roots was the best policy to prevent future trouble? How can the legendary founders of the world government not know something so obvious?

    "Renegades... rather an ironic and funny term for descendants of royalty who ruled masses," Kiba mused.

    He shook his head and looked around. The sea of people around the pit was excited and shouting merrily. For them, it was nothing more than watching a sport but only more thrilling.

    Ordinary sports were bound by rules but not the competition in the pit. It was a true life and death crisis with no match-fixing. The best part - real human lives were on the line, unlike most choreographed animal sports.

    The pit satisfied the most primal desires of blood and gore. In the forest, including this region, they didn't have to pretend contrary to their nature and act as if they cared about the lives of others. The organizers of The Fair used this desire to attract the attention of the masses in order to profit themselves. Five men in yellow dress were asking for bets on who would win and the profit they would receive if they were right.

    "I'm betting an Oxsea Bead on the wolf!"

    "A bone of three-headed lion!"

    "Skull of golden bull!"

    "Haah~" Kiba let out a soft sigh. "The true nature of humans is same whether it is slums or here."

    He could not help but recall memories filled with despair that Akshobhya made him remember in the final round of their battle. (Chapter 110).

    -----

    *

    Around seven years ago.

    The Northern Slums, Delta City.

    In a makeshift-throne room inside a ruined building. The rulers of the slum - overlords - were enjoying a feast.

    In the slums, people would kill for a piece of bread much less a proper meal given the lack of resources. But this crisis was only limited for the poor slum dwellers and not the overlords and their subordinates.

    The overlords have sole monopoly on the grants commissioned by the government for the slum dwellers. Of course, in return, they have to help the government officers by providing free prostitutes and helping in organ harvesting.

    The benefit of not having any oversight in slums meant the poor population could be used for any use. The high-ranking members of the government did know about the corrupt activities but they overlooked by pretending to be ignorant. After all, just from where the scientists could get an unlimited number of human specimens whenever they need if not for such oversight? Or how would brothels be filled with women if the rights were given to one and all?

    The answers to such questions resulted in the overlords benefitting. Sure slums were undeveloped and had no advancement but they were still the top of the top here. It was better to be the head of a snake than the tail of a lion.

    In the center of the room, there was an enormous cage. The overlords and their subordinates looked at the activity in the slum with amused expressions.

    Zed was inside the cage along with two dogs. He was starved and famished, the same could be said for the dogs.

    One of the dogs leaped on him to chomp flesh from his shoulder. Zed darted to a side while clenching his fist. Waves of flame erupted out, slamming fiercely on the head of the dog.

    Growl~

    The dog shook its head wildly, trying to extinguish the flame on its head. It started scratching its legs without looking around.

    Just then, the other dog joined in. Zed jumped up in defense while launching a fireball on the incoming dog. The dog twisted its body in mid-air and narrowly escaped the fireball.

    "This slum insect is not too bad," A slum overlord said while drinking crystalline wine and munching on a chicken leg. "Sadly for you it means you are losing the bet."

    "You are right but I don't mind," Another overlord agreed. "Let's reward him for being so impressive."

    The lips of everyone in the room curled up in a sinister grin. The overlord from before took a piece of bacon from a bowl.

    He arrived in front of the cage and his mere presence stopped the dogs in their path. He made a sweeping motion and the flame from one of the dog's head extinguished.

    The overlord looked at Zed while showing him the slice of bacon. Zed's stomach made funny noise and his mouth instantly watered.

    "You want this piece of nutritious bacon?" The overlord asked him with loud laughter. "Then take it from those wild dogs."

    After saying this, he threw the piece in the cage. The eyes of the dogs turned red and their senses flared at the sight of meat. They leaped towards the bacon and Zed did the same...

    What followed was the pain of his flesh being ripped apart while the spectators jeered at him.

    "Someday I will return this favor just like I returned the one I owned to my caretaker by sending him to the afterlife," Zed muttered to himself, his eyes glinting with coldness.

    *

    -------

    Present.

    Kiba smiled at the plights of his past self. The time has favored him rather well and he was now a spectator to a scene not so different from the one where he was the main attraction.

    "I should feel empathy but I don't," Kiba thought while observing the man and his family in the pit. "Was I always like this? Cold and detached to the plight of others because no one helped me when I needed it the most?"

    He thought of the times he truly wanted to help others and realized those occasions were very rare when he was Kiba. As Zed, he was not this cold, at least not to this extent.

    "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the mind of the one who possesses it."Princess Scarlet Leila De Rose's final words ringed inside him.

    Kiba shook his head and cleared his thoughts. He focused on the fight inside the pit and observed how the man lost one arm while protecting his child.

    The wolf slashed its claw at the neck of the man but just then the woman appeared in between. Blood splattered from her back as she saved her husband from a fatal wound.

    The man's eyes turned watery and he lost all sense of rationality. He turned berserk and started attacking the wolf with everything that he had.

    "Sacrifice..." Kiba's expression turned downcast. He remembered a similar sacrifice done by the red tiger and that woman in the slums.

    Kiba let out another sigh. He knew what his heart wanted him to do but his mind reminded him of his faulty logic.

    "If I help that man and his family then I would be harming the wolf who has done no wrong to me," Kiba thought rationally. "In the end, the wolf is only doing what it has to do to survive. It has done no wrong... But by taking away its meal, I would be leaving the wolf to starvation by death."

    Ashlyn has already turned around and left the pit. She was not interested in the pit nor she felt any emotion, neither positive or negative due to her upbringing as a cursed one. She believed this was none of her business so she left while waiting for him outside.

    "Oh well... when have I ever cared about logic or emotion?" Kiba mused with a smile.

    Inside the pit, the man collapsed on the floor while the wolf pounced on him with its mouth wide open. The woman and her child screamed in despair while the man closed his eyes to accept his fate.

    Swoosh~!

    Out of nowhere, rays of white light enveloped the man and his family. The onlookers were stunned into silence and even before they could react, the family of three disappeared in a blinding flash.

    "What?!" The five workers of this pit were shocked. They have taken the bets but the main contestants have disappeared. They were terrified and worried about how they will report this scene to their superiors.

    "That man was going to die and I was going to win the bet! These damn organizers are a fraud!" An angry onlooker shouted angrily. He has gambled a substantial income and was sure his gamble would succeed.

    "How can the Five Dark Stars allow such fraudulent organizers to orchestrate this fraud?!"

    "I want my promised reward! My bet was right"

    "Me too!"

    Those who were about to win the bets turned towards the five men in yellow with absolute hatred in their eyes. While those who were about to lose sighed in relief while pretending to be just as angry.

    "Guys...this is a misunderstanding!" The five workers were sweating bullets.

    They were worried about the mob mentality and the loss of potential gain would make the gamblers insane. The rules of the fair restricted conflicts but who could stop a riot?

    "We have no idea what just happened!" One of the workers tried to pacify the crowd.

    "We don't care!" A furious voice came from the crowd. "Just give what you promised and we will leave."

    "How could we do that? There was no clear winner---" A worker tried to reason but stopped in between as he felt the venomous gazes on him.

    "Do you accept our condition or not?!"

    "Let's calm down and discuss!"

    "How the hell do you expect us to be calm down?!"

    Kiba observed everything with interest before bringing his eyes back on the wolf. It was roaring angrily at the loss of its food despite its hard work and intense struggle but sadly, no one cared about its complaint.

    "No one but me," Kiba corrected himself with a smile.

    BANG

    The onlookers and organizers were in the middle of the discussion when a loud bang sound came from the pit. They quickly turned around and noticed with shocked expressions as an invisible and formless force shattered the metal wires covering the top of the pit.

    Even before they could get over this shock, a crimson pill conjured in front of the wolf. The pill was dazzling and emitting a powerful aroma.

    Just a single breath of its aroma made the spectators feel refreshed and energized.

    "A Grade 5 pill used for breaking through to the next level!" An expert onlooker muttered in disbelief.

    "You got to be kidding me! Such pills could be only manufactured by those high-rank pharmacy companies"

    "Aren't those companies helped by top scientists who charge millions?!"

    "Yes!"

    "Fuck! I have to get that pill!"

    "No! It is mine!"

    Many onlookers jumped in the pit without caring about anything else. In front i

    "?" The wolf was stunned and confused, its jaws dropped to the ground. As it decided how to react, the pill turned into a stream of light and shot in its mouth.

    ROAR

    The wolf felt bolts of energy coursing through its veins. Its body expanded while its skeleton mutated further as the wolf evolved to Level III. Its claws stretched out and turned into crystalline-sharp and the same happened for its jaws.

    "Bastard! That pill was mine!"

    "If we can kill it, we can still salvage the medicinal properties of the pill!"

    "Then let's kill this useless beast!"

    As the organizers and others rushed into action, the wolf leaped high in the air and escaped the pit by slashing through the coming opponents. Dark flash started converging on its front claw as it pierced through the human flesh.

    "Ahhh!"

    The wolf's eyes were filled with absolute hatred and viciousness as it gazed at the human onlookers after stepping out of the pit.

    For days, it was kept starved and confined before its match with that human. Now, it would make them repay for all its misery and hunger!

    In the meantime, Kiba turned around and started walking away from the pit.

    "In the end, I just couldn't be unfair," Kiba thought of his actions as he joined Ashlyn. "I hope the wolf enjoy a delicious meal."

    Ashlyn looked at him and then at the mess that was taking behind. Blood and flesh was spluttering in the air while tragic screams reverbarated loudly.

    She has a pretty good idea on what trenspassed as she was far too familiar with the teleportation fluctations.

    "Sadist."
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