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294 Ego

    Inside the dining hall, Waldo was pissed by Kiba's and Ashlyn's large tips followed by words on generosity. He was old and thick-skinned but even he felt embarrassed by the puppy eyes of Isabelle.

    How am I supposed to eat under the vision of such an adorable teenager?

    Damn! Being so cute is criminal!

    Waldo let out a bitter smile. He took out a money card from his back pocket. The card was worth $1000. Compared to the tips offered by Kiba and Ashlyn, his tip was too low and not worthy of mentioning. But this amount was the most he was ready to offer.

    Hopefully, she would be happy.

    Waldo prayed inside as he handed the card to Isabelle. She was smiling but he could see it seemed force. When she expressed her gratitude, he could feel it wasn't as sincere as when she thanked Kiba and Ashlyn.

    Fuck! I'm low on funds and yet she doesn't appreciate my gesture! Did I waste my money for nothing?!

    Waldo wanted to weep at his predicament. If there was no here and he was not afraid of the rules of The Fair, he would take the card back forcefully.

    "You are not a miser," Kiba remarked in a voice filled with astonishment. Waldo was pleased by the obvious surprise in Kiba's voice. At least, someone was impressed even if it was the culprit of the current situation. Waldo gladly stuffed a meat piece in his mouth when Kiba completed his remark by saying, "But you are not generous either. Don't you feel any shame on disappointing a teenager?"

    "%@#!" Waldo coughed up the meat piece. If not for the rules, he would have strangled the golden-haired man and teach him a thing or two about generosity.

    Waldo placed a hand over his old heart. He wanted to calm down and overcome his obvious anger and embarrassment.

    Ashlyn let out another sigh. She silently waited for Isabelle to serve them dishes they have ordered.

    Five minutes later, Isabelle returned to their table with a large plate. As per the initial order, she placed down the entire lunch dishes on the table.

    The first dish she placed was a mix of vegetables cooked with few spices and topped with a coconut sauce. Then there was salad, pasta, butter naan, rice, meat, stew, fish curry, yogurt, and so on. Even dessert dishes were placed alongside from the very start. Butterscotch pie, rasgulla, pudding, rajbhog, and biscuit tarts.

    Waldo first looked at the dishes and then at Kiba and Ashlyn. His eyes were filled with disbelief at the amount of food. Their table was for six and yet now it was full with no space.

    Just how much food two people could eat?! They eat that much and yet remain so lean!

    Kiba and Ashlyn ignored his gaze and started savoring their lunch.

    A few minutes later.

    "Hmm?" Kiba's attention moved on the entrance as he heard the sound of the door opening. A man in mid-twenties, clad in casual clothes, stepped in. He has peach skin, a sharp jaw, thin eyebrows, and light red eyes. His slick red hair was combed to the right. All over, he was a fairly handsome man.

    The good-looking man was named Shawn.

    He was accompanied by a young petite woman who has just reached twenty. She was holding Shawn's hand as she walked inside the hall.

    She has long chocolate brown hair and eyes, light skin tone and a small but tempting chest that was wrapped by light yellow sundress. She was about 5'7" and her dress reached past her ankles.

    Kiba noticed a diamond ring on the fourth finger of her left hand.

    "Engagement ring and not a wedding band...but there are many who only wear a single ring so hard to say if she is married or not," Kiba made an important observation. "The light ring mark on her finger indicates she has not been engaged/married for long. So romance should be most likely in honeymoon stage."

    In the present era, very few would marry at such a young age. Kiba wasn't able to judge if she belonged to the very few. If she did, it would either mean she was truly romantic at heart or she was participating in a marriage of convenience set by her elders. There was also another rare scenario which has so do with conservative values and cultural impact but Kiba was sure she didn't belong to it.

    The alluring girl was named Amy. She was all smiles as she walked alongside Shawn.

    The couple was actually a group of ten. The others in the group were equally young. Most men were good-looking and the women were slender and gorgeous. Their demeanor and walking style factored along with their presence in the costliest inn indicated they were used to a rich lifestyle.

    As Kiba observed the female incomers, he licked his lips unconsciously. He found a new appetite building up in his body that couldn't be satisfied with the delicious dishes on the table.

    For the time being, Kiba decided to satisfy his stomach's craving. One task at a time...

    Kiba was taking a spoon of yogurt when he noticed something amiss. He raised his head and looked at Ashlyn.

    Her face was the usual poker and emotionless but he could see some emotions in her eyes. She was looking at the newly arrived group and the group was looking at her. To be exact, her vision was focused on Shawn.

    "Ashlyn?" Shawn called out. He walked towards her alongside Amy.

    "They know each other?" Kiba was surprised by the situation. It was the first time he was some real meeting acquaintances of Ashlyn.

    When he first met her, she was a temporary member of Blue Cliff Group lead by Amir. That time, he was with Ruby and they joined the group so that he can get to know Ashlyn. Later on, Blue Cliff Group was exterminated by Kiba's scheme when the group tried to plot against him and Ashlyn.

    "Shawn and Amy" Ashlyn greeted her acquaintances coldly.

    "Nice to meet you as well, stuck up bitch," Shawn said with a smirk. "So rumors of you being here were true."

    Without asking for permission, he sat on an empty chair next to her. Amy sat beside him.

    Ashlyn didn't reply to his remark.

    The couple was not surprised by her response. Shawn looked at Kiba and his eyes flashed with anger that he suppressed quickly.

    Amy brought her eyes on Kiba as well. She was stunned by his handsome and refined facial features. A fit of pang jealousy and fury built in her heart.

    Suppressing her emotions, she said, "You do know she is a Cursed One, right?"

    Kiba didn't answer but he did sigh inwardly. He was disappointed that the plans he has just build regarding Amy would need to be changed.

    As for what she said about Ashlyn, he wasn't surprised. Ashlyn has informed him about her existence as a Cursed One after the battle with Immortal Devouring Serpent. And even if she hasn't told him, it wouldn't have mattered. After all, everyone has their secrets and weakness they never wanted to share. She wasn't obliged to inform him and vice versa.

    Shawn and Amy took his silence as a shocked reaction. They felt he most likely didn't know and was now overwhelmed with this knowledge.

    "You are baiting a guy and didn't even let him know about you," Amy said to Ashlyn. Amy turned her towards Kiba and said, "Don't let her deceive you with her beauty. She is all just looks but the era of evolution didn't deem her worthy of blessing."

    Ashlyn didn't react. She ignored Amy as if she didn't exist and focused on her lunch.

    "Her birth parents discarded her," Shawn joined the conversation. "An orphanage for special children took pity on her but even there she showed why the era of evolution didn't deem her worthy."

    Kiba was flabbergasted by the information. He didn't know about her being discarded after birth and her living in an orphanage.

    But a few things didn't make sense to him. Ashlyn was powerful and that was especially true when she unsealed her seals. Yet, both Shawn and Amy were basically insulting her without any worry of consequences. Were they unaware of her power or was there another reason?

    He also wondered why Shawn was being so negative about Ashlyn.

    "Most likely she refused his advances," Kiba thought of the obvious reason.

    Ashlyn's beauty was breathtaking and the first time he saw her, he has entered into a trance. So he wouldn't be surprised if Shawn tried to build a romance with her.

    "And he now stupidly believe she and I have a romantic relationship or at least a potential romance... so he wants to stop it from happening," Kiba concluded in his heart.

    "Ashlyn, you are a disappointment to your adopted parents," Shawn resumed the conversation. "They took you in their care and gave you everything..."

    For the first time, a flare of anger became visible in Ashlyn's face and she flinched at the mention of parents.

    "Yet you lie and deceive for a boyfriend when you actually came to prove your devotion to them," Shawn finished his remarks. "Shame on you."

    Kiba's expression turned heavy. He could easily retort and make Shawn cry just from his words but he didn't. It was Ashlyn's matter and if he interfered without her consent, then he would be disrespecting her.

    He was also curious about Ashlyn's background and especially these adopted parents of her. He knew Ashlyn has costly and rare treasures with her so he wondered if it was due to her adopted parents.

    Ashlyn kept silent. Both Shawn and Amy were surprised by her cool despite everything. Even Kiba was surprised. He thought she would show her Nutcracking Demoness persona by now.

    Shawn and Amy looked at each other. They then rose up from the chairs and left the table.

    Shawn walked towards his group while remarking loud enough for Kiba and Ashlyn to hear.

    "Poor guy has fallen for a useless cursed bitch," Shawn said to Amy. "She is someone who can never conceive and enjoy the joy of children. I feel worse for her adopted parents. A pity they would never experience the happiness of playing with grandchildren... they should have just left her in that orphanage."

    "Don't say that," Amy felt he was now going overboard. Children was a very sensitive topic for any woman and that was especially true for cursed ones.

    "I'm just stating a fact," Shawn said.

    Kiba eyed him coldly. Some topics were taboo and better unsaid, and yet, this man was continuously trying to piss her. Even he was getting offended.

    Ashlyn dropped the spoon in her hand. She rose to her feet and rage exploded in her eyes. The full-body black suit flashed with streams of blue currents. Seven bright seals appeared on her left palm as she clenched her fists.

    She took a step ahead but just then, a hand gripped her left shoulder from behind.

    "Don't," Kiba said as she turned her head towards him. "Neither of us would resort to violence."

    Ashlyn was surprised by his words.

    From the time she has known him, he has never been the forgiving type. He has ensured that anyone who offended him in any manner paid a price. She has also witnessed him taking sadistic pleasure while carrying out revenge.

    And yet, he was now stopping her to kick someone who has offended her?

    Kiba looked at her face. Even though her face was poker, he could see the anger in her emerald eyes. He obviously understood she felt he was being unreasonable given his own past records.

    He didn't want them to resort to violence due to the rules of The Fair. The auction has yet to start so they couldn't afford to get kicked out.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click  for visiting.

    He also wanted to keep killings to a minimum before the opening of the core section. This was mainly due to his plans with Fiona. So, for the time being, he didn't want either of them to use violence as a means.

    "I just said we will not be violent," Kiba said with a mischievous smile. "Never said we won't have revenge."

    "?" Ashlyn was bewildered by his words.

    "Pain from death is momentary. Sure, the pain might be unimaginable but it only lasts for a few moments before the person is wiped out of existence," Kiba took a seat as he continued. "In a way, death is the worst form of revenge. As for beating the heck out of a person to vent your frustration... well, injuries could be healed and body could easily recover as long as one has enough resources. That Shawn guy is obviously rich enough so physical revenge won't give us much satisfaction. By now, I'm sure you know why using violent means is not really the right way to have revenge."

    Ashlyn felt his words made sense but then she recalled how most of his revenge was through violent means. He has either killed or handicapped his enemies.

    Even without looking at her, he could tell her thoughts. After all, his words and past deeds didn't really match.

    Kiba signaled her to take a seat and he returned to his own chair. Ashlyn did what he wanted but she continued to look at him. She was sure he would have something in mind if he stopped her now.

    "Do you know what is the greatest form of revenge?" Kiba asked.

    "...." Ashlyn didn't answer.

    "It is psychological," Kiba answered with a smile. "Unlike physical revenge, psychological revenge is forever engraved in mind and could not be forgotten. This type of revenge could last for an entire lifetime and the victim could do nothing but suffer."

    Ashlyn was now intrigued.

    "Remember the affair puzzle I gave you?" Kiba asked while resuming his lunch.

    Ashlyn nodded her head. So far, she was not able to solve it.

    "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting," Kiba repeated the hints he has provided her. "And lastly, the mind is a terrible thing."

    Ashlyn took a spoon of pudding while waiting for him to continue.

    "The victim in the puzzle was offended greatly," Kiba said while treating himself with dessert. "What was the main reason for him being offended to such an extent? Was it infidelity of his wife, betrayal by his best friend,or something else..."

    Ashlyn contemplated for a minute before answering, "A combination of all perhaps?"

    "Nope," Kiba said with a smile. "The reason is something no human wants to accept... it is the root cause."

    "What is it?" Ashlyn asked.

    "Ego!" Kiba answered with a smirk. "His ego was hurt in the worst possible way. And justly, by his reasoning, he felt shattered and offended by infidelity and betrayal."

    "..." Ashlyn contemplated in her mind. She realized whatever Kiba has in mind for Shawn was related to ego.

    "Let me tell you the most interesting part," Kiba wiped his hands with a tissue as he continued. "Ego is the very reason why most affairs occur in the first place."

    Ashlyn listened without making an observation. She knew nothing of romance and relationships so she didn't comment.

    "In the entire life of a healthy human, the total time engaged in sex would be six to eight months," Kiba said, his voice relaxed. " So it won't be wrong to say that sex is one of the shortest activities humans engage in, and yet, it leads to the biggest troubles in our world. Now, let me connect it with ego, the root cause.

    "Most men engage in affairs for seeking a boost in ego. The boost usually comes during sex and afterward, never before. They seek gratification and ego stroke for their manhood... They want to declare they are alpha among men. A man might not want to admit it, but he wants to believe he is a stud in bed.

    "Whether consciously or unconsciously, the things men worry about the most is their size and performance. They often worry if their women are satisfied or not, and that's the reason why most men want to hear they are good in bed. An affair, in a twisted way, is a method to prove manhood and stud status with another woman... Of course, there is pleasure and thrill but the main issue is ego.

    "Now, let's talk about women who engage in affairs despite having a happy sex life. Like before, I'm talking about majority cases. Most women seek ego boost before they actually participate in sex... this is different from men. They want to be indulged, complimented and flattered on their beauty and wisdom. This is especially true for women who have aged and don't get enough flattery from their companions. Their ego asked it to be stroked and appreciated. They want to be desired and romanced...

    "And that's what most men do when they seduce women. They flatter them, make them feel desired, and lastly, make them believe their companion is not appreciating them enough."

    What Kiba didn't mention was that the ego factor was not restricted to affairs. In the case of young women seeking a potential boyfriend, most wanted to have a relationship with so-called studs and bad boys.

    Why?

    Ego.

    Their vanity was satisfied with being desired by the famous men. They unconsciously reasoned how others would be jealous of their beauty and their famous companion.

    The same applied to most young males who wanted the hottest girl. After all, a man wants others of his gender to see him as a conqueror who has gained a woman desired by many.

    Of course, this was more of lust and a stroke for ego, and not love. But these companionships usually happens through dating and romance.

    "Now, let's arrive back on our main topic, punishing Shawn," Kiba's eyes flashed with a devilish glint.

    "By the time our psychological revenge is finished, Shawn will feel so humiliated that he will doubt his very manhood."

    Ashlyn wondered what he has planned...
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