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272 Treasured Jewels Guard

    The Fair Region, Desolate Blood Forest.

    The area around the pit was suddenly filled with chaos. More than fifty spectators and the five organizers were terrified by the sudden new developments. First, that man and his family in the pit disappeared without any trace. Everyone was asking for blood especially those who lost a bet and were disappointed to see the man and his family surviving the situation.

    After all, that man and his family teleported away the moment he was about to be killed. It was not just a loss of possible monetary gain but also the disappointment of a sport ending in anti-climax fashion.

    Even before they could complain about the lack of excitement by this development, fate decided to reward them with a thrilling development.

    The savage wolf has mutated to level III thanks to the pill it just consumed. After leaping out of the pit, it pounced on the spectators. Its crystalline claws pierced through their bodies while its mouth chewed human flesh to satisfy its hunger and enjoy the feast.

    "Oh, God!"

    "Save me!"

    "No!"

    "AHHHH!"

    Before, when the onlookers watched the match between that slave man and wolf, the rush of adrenaline in them was high. Now, when they became the participants in this sport, the adrenaline in their bloodstream surpassed all limits. The reversal of roles has truly added thrills in their lives...

    Some distance away, Kiba and Ashlyn were walking away from this chaos. He sensed her questioning glance from time to time and knew she knew his role in the mess behind.

    "It is always better to be a participant in a sport rather than being a spectator," Kiba said with a smile, "And given the loud voices from behind, the onlookers seem to share my view."

    Ashlyn observed his smile and made a conclusion the smile was the same as when he toyed with Amir and others. The smile she associated with his sadist side.

    She let out a soft sigh before stepping on a new street.

    Meanwhile, some five miles away from the walls of The Fair.

    Huge trees stretched from the ground along with emerald grass. Rabbits and squirrels rushed from one place to another while small birds rested in their nests.

    Suddenly, three columns of light conjured in thin air and transformed into the man and his family from the pit. The family of three was shocked by the change in scenary.

    The woman and her child hugged her husband tightly. The heat and scent of blood and sweat from his body confirmed he was truly alive and this was not a dream.

    "Carr, what happened?" The woman asked while wiping her tears.

    "I don't know, Naomi" Carr looked around. "But we should rush away."

    Naomi agreed but she was not sure of their chances in a safe escape. Her husband has lost an arm and was injured in other places. Even she was bleeding from her back due to the attack from the wold when she protected her husband.

    Just then, green rays enveloped the husband-wife duo. They were startled but could do nothing as the rays merged into their wounds.

    Carr looked in disbelief as new veins and flesh stretched out from his severed arm. In just a matter of a minute, he has a new arm. Naomi was equally stunned as she felt her wounds disappearing.

    The family of three looked at each other in bewilderment. They were happy but also terrified. After all, this just seemed to good to be true.

    "Could this perhaps be a ploy by the organizers?" Naomi asked. She has heard rich men liked playing sick sports in which they make participants initially happy but then drown them in despair.

    "No idea," Carr answered, equally worried.

    As a descendant of those known as Renegades, he has never lived a happy time and the same went for his wife and child. They were born as slaves and died as slaves. This was a fate set the moment the nine sovereigns defeated ancient powers and took command over the world.

    Years ago, Carr and Naomi cursed their fate for giving them this sinned ancestry but they realized complaints were useless. Those of lower births and humble beginnings had no power to oppose the rich and strong.

    "Harper, everything would be alright," Naomi pacified her child was still crying.

    Harper remained silent while praying inside. He truly hoped gods were not playing with them and would allow them to live happily.

    Just then, a flash of light appeared in Naomi's hand. In just a blink, the flash converged into a short glass bottle filled with 30-40 energy pills. These pills were often used to satisfy the need of food as each pill has enough nutrition to satisfy a day's requirement.

    Naomi and Carr didn't know how to react.

    "Relax, this is not some ploy or even a game. I have freed you from your confinement because I wanted to," A voice ringed inside their minds. "And these pills are a parting gift from me."

    It was difficult to determine the gender of the speaker or even feel emotions in the voice.

    The family of three were too stunned to respond. They couldn't understand why would anyone help them to such an extent.

    "Whether you can maintain your freedom and live happily after ever would depend on your determination, wits, and hard work," The voice said in a concluding tone. "Good luck."

    The voice disappeared but the three continued to be in a trance. It took them a while to regain composure after which both excitement and nervousness appeared on their faces.

    "Let's leave," Carr said. "We will try out our best to achieve our dream."

    He wanted his family to live a better life and even hope for a day when his descendants would not have to live with the fate of being a slave.

    Naomi and Harper nodded happily and they left the area...

    ***

    The Fair was more like a bazaar, filled with a sea of people and colors. There were hundreds of stalls and shops offering beast hides, skeletons, rare herbs, treasured fruits, valuable minerals, and so on. Then there were large concrete buildings where an adventurist could give the resources to the organizers of The Fair in exchange for either crystal money cards or resources. Not only that, even aircraft facilities were available which one could use to transport resources from the forest to anywhere else. Of course, such services were very costly.

    Kiba and Ashlyn checked various stalls and shops. So far Kiba found none of the items he wanted but he was not disappointed. The items he wanted were rare and precious so chances of finding them in open stalls and shops were almost none.  Still, he wanted to check around to see if his luck would offer him something. So far, he found nothing he needed or wanted, but then again, that was given. As Zed, he was a billionaire and he has pretty much everything he ever needed or wanted in his house and underground facilities. And something that he might still want was not something he could find so easily.

    "There is a new danger for every man in Desolate Blood Forest," A loud voice came from a megaphone. "If you want to protect yourself, visit Byron's Charm Shop."

    Kiba was checking a food stall when these words entered his ears.

    "Danger for men?" Kiba was intrigued. He was confident on his own strength for protecting him but he was still curious to see what type of danger only targeted men.

    Women have fought for centuries for equal rights and the current era offered them what was theirs. Yet this new danger in the forest was only aiming for men and not women. He was a firm believer in equal rights and hated concepts such as a good man not attacking women.

    "No matter where you go, you would find misogynist and sexist," Kiba thought of the new threat.

    Ashlyn walked alongside him and soon they arrived in front of Byron's Charm Shop. Kiba was stunned in disbelief.

    When he heard charm shop, he expected amulets, talismans or even modern weapons. But there was nothing like that...there was nothing about charm in this shop.

    There were stocks of only one item in the entire shop with different varieties in size, color, and materials.

    Kiba's forehead was covered with dark lines as he checked the item and read its name: Treasured Jewels Guard.

    The Treasured Jewels Guard has padding for the lower abdomen and a special contoured groin cup to provide complete protection to the treasured area. The guard was kept in place by a dual-velcro strap, which ensured comfort and ease in wearing.

    "What a fancy name for a groin guard," Kiba muttered in disbelief.

    Byron - the shop owner- was a man in mid-thirties with dirty brown hairs, a short beard, and a thin body. He noticed Kiba and his heart skipped a beat after seeing Ashlyn. He quickly cleared his thoughts and closed his eyes. He didn't want to offend a customer and besides he knew beauty means fatality. She was far too attractive for someone like him so he didn't even try to think of her, knowing she was out of his league.

    Quickly, he arrived in front of Kiba with a shopkeeper smile. He gave a low bow to greet him in professional etiquette.

    "Welcome to my humble shop," Byron said in a polite tone. "I'm glad you are ready to take protection against the threat that has endangered men."

    "What threat?" Ashlyn asked in her usual cold voice. Even she was curious about a threat that only targetted men and not women.

    "Haven't you heard?" Byron noticed Kiba's expression and realized they were truly clueless. "The precious jewels of countless men have been shattered by Nutcracking Demoness!"

    "...................." Kiba's jaw dropped to the ground and his eyes turned wide. He gulped down and turned towards Ashlyn.

    "That demoness is pure evil incarnated in a human body with beauty so striking that even nature would hide in shame," Byron continued without noticing their reactions. "So far, more than a hundred men have lost any chance of expanding their family name. That demoness has ruined dreams of those men having any posterity."

    "Really?" Kiba asked while wiping sweat from his forehead.

    "Yes!" Byron quickly nodded. "She is an enemy of men but she is a woman so it is still understandable. But then there is that traitor who betrayed men---"

    "Traitor?" Kiba interjected in between.

    "You wouldn't know," Byron once again nodded and continued. "That demoness is helped by a handsome man who shamelessly betrayed his own gender. In fact, as per the story that is told by the victims, that man is the true conspirator. He gave idea to the demoness and created situations so that demoness could take advantage."

    Kiba's face turned dark. Why was he given so much credit unnecessarily when he was blameless? Sure, he unknowingly helped Ashlyn when she experimented her nutcracking art a few times but that was unintentional.

    Her victims took his shocked facial reactions as a sign of him being a wimp and thought they Ashlyn was leaving him for them...

    But this story of him being the true conspirator and traitor was far too stretched. He made a mental note to find the storytellers and tell them to stop adding fictional details. He was an honorable man with a crystal-clear reputation. Such stories were tainting his pure character.

    "So you could understand the threat we men are facing," Byron said with a pained expression. "For us men, our jewels are the most precious. They are a gift we use to expand our bloodline but this demoness and that traitor are hellbent in stopping us from carrying our responsibility..."

    "..............."

    "This is why I built this shop," Byron proudly declared. "I used costly materials to invent Treasured Jewels Guard!"

    Invent?

    Kiba wanted to remind him that he was just copying crotch guard with a new design.

    Perhaps Byron understood his gaze so he explained, "The demoness is very strong. Her kicks are powered with a terrifying force that can break through anything. Ordinary materials are not a match to stop demoness from cracking jewels so we use a Level III Divine Silkworms' thread along with the shell of Dinotortotise to build this super effective guard."

    Byron even explained the hidden formations involved in the design of Treasured Jewels Guard.

    "Since this involves the future of humanity, I'm not here to make any profit but only help men by selling them these valuable body charms," Byron continued with a sincere expression. "The price range is $9999 to $99999."

    "......." Kiba's lips twitched.

    Byron was basically extorting with such high price range. But Kiba did notice that there were many guard boxes missing from the shells so they must have been sold.

    Could there be people who truly believed in the threat of Nutcracking Demoness?!

    But then again, the threat was real! He has seen it with his own eyes when Ashlyn slammed kicks into jewels.

    Remembering the screams and tormenting expressions of the victims made Kiba feel numb with dread.

    The mercenary Issac was the first victim but he was not the last. The list of victims was far too long to remember so it was no wonder the story of nutcracking demoness spread like wildfire.

    This shopkeeper was now using the jewel crisis in the forest for his own good. In fact, he has made a good profit by selling over a hundred Treasured Jewels Guard to needy customers who were dreadful of the danger lurking in the forest.

    Byron even used a part of his profit to further spread the legends of the evil demoness. After all, every successful business requires advertisement. And for his business, the story of the sinister woman was the main attraction point. The more people dread the evil, the more customers he got.

    Not only men but even women visited his shop in large numbers. Women obviously didn't fear the sinister demoness but they wanted to buy Treasured Jewels Guard in order to protect their own man.

    After all, if their man's jewels were broken, then how would they perform in the bedroom?

    A regular man spends a good part of his life thinking about his bedroom performance. He treasure his jewels for they are not only a means of expanding family but also a means to incomparable pleasure. And this is why a man truly fears losing these jewels.

    Kiba sighed in admiration. There are people who are ready to exploit any situation but then again, that was a sign of a shrewd bussinessman.

    Kiba looked at Byron in praise. People like him either would become far too rich or die too quickly due to their over smartness.

    Kiba shook his head and once again turned towards Ashlyn. He really wanted to see her reaction to this.

    "Do you know more about this demoness you speak of?" Ashlyn finally spoke.

    Byron turned his head towards her. Earlier, due to her striking appearance, he didn't look at her as he found her far too alluring. He was afraid he would make a show of himself if he starred at her.

    "Yes! She is about twenty-one years old! I even know her gorgeous appearance!" Byron answered with a smile. "She has entrancing emerald-green eyes, dark hair, creamy-white skin, and is always clad in a full-body black suit---"

    The words Byron was about to speak died in between and his throat turned dry while his face began sweating.

    He started shaking as he once again looked at Ashlyn, and as soon as he did, his eyes jumped out of socket.

    A chill passed through his spine and his entire back was soaked in cold sweat. His treasured jewels shrunk in horror while the fine hairs on his back stood up in attention...
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