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382 Treading Bridge

    Above the desert, as the black hovercraft raced forward, it cut through the red smog that formed the sky.

    Sophia observed the desert through the virtual screens in front of her. The desert was vast and if she was on her own, it would have taken her around 7-8 hours to cross it if she has used supernatural speed.

    Sophia glanced at Zed who was busy operating the control panels.

    "You have a nice hovercraft," Sophia remarked with a smile.

    Not only the speed, but she has also witnessed the offensive ability of the hovercraft when it killed the scorpions attacking her.

    On a seat behind her, Aileen agreed with her young miss's assessment.

    Then again, she felt it was rather obvious for the hovercraft to have such features. After all, it was an alien relic; a product of Celestial Elsyain Plane's advanced technology. While Earth has advanced and there were no lack of high tech aircraft, a product of alien world would still stand out.

    "Thanks," Zed replied with a relaxed smile.

    "You must have spent a lot of resources to buy it," Aileen said heavily.

    As a servant of Neville Family, Aileen has seen many high-tech hovercrafts like this and knew their worth. And given this hovercraft was an alien item, it was not something that could be purchased from money.

    She reasoned that most likely he has an influential organization or family behind him which allowed him to afford this hovercraft.

    "Not really," Zed shook his head. "It was pretty much free."

    "WHAT?!"

    Aileen jumped up from her seat in disbelief. She felt her hearing must have turned bad otherwise there was no way she heard those words.

    Pretty much free?!

    Nonsense!

    This hovercraft would cost god knows what. It was not some candy that a shopkeeper might give for free.

    Seeing her reaction, Zed decided to share more information so that she could relax.

    "Well, let's say it was pretty much lying without any owner so I took it," Zed explained.

    He has said this to make her feel at ease, but when she heard his 'explanation', her heart thumped violently in shock. She felt her very idea of reality was brutally smashed by this twenty-something kid in front of her.

    He found this hovercraft?! Does he think such advanced hovercrafts were lying around for people to take away?!

    Aileen was having a hard time believing his relaxed attitude. There was no pride or arrogance or anything in his voice.

    How can he say such words as if it was something obvious and nothing to be surprised about?!

    Even people who found precious items are more serious than him! They would show off their wealth as something they earned with lot of struggles and sweat! That was something humane and natural!

    And yet, he is speaking as if this treasured hovercraft was some radish he found in wild. Like he was taking a stroll and saw a radish. Seeing it without any owner, he picked it up and continued his journey.

    Like hell this was possible!

    Sophia was a bit surprised by his attitude but she didn't think much. She has her own treasures which she didn't use before due to her future plans.

    "Do you any specific treasures you want to seek?" Sophia enquired as the hovercraft proceeded to the central zone.

    The trials would begin tomorrow, and while she didn't know if they would be together, she wanted to know what resources he wanted. If she found them then she could take them and give it to him. She felt this was the least she could do.

    Zed put the hovercraft back on auto-pilot and turned the chair towards her.

    "Well, there aren't really any resources I want to seek from treasure vault," Zed put a hand over his chin as he continued. "But then again, if there is a chance, I want to find Seven-petal Golden Rose of at least grade III-----"

    Zed broke his sentence in middle as Sophia intervented.

    "You want Seven-petal Golden Rose?" Sophia was startled.

    Zed nodded his head in acknowledgment.

    "I have it!" Sophia's lips curled up in a bright smile. She snapped fingers and the storage bracelet on her left wrist flashed brightly.

    Yellow light splashed out which converged into Seven-petal Golden Rose. Golden glow radiated out of the stem and petals along with a strong medicinal aroma. As soon as the rose appeared, there was an energizing feeling in the entire hovercraft.

    "Here!" Sophia happily handed him the rose.

    "This... What do you want in return?" Zed asked as he took the rose.

    "Nothing!" Sophia answered, her voice bossy. Her cute face was filled with strong determination as she absolutely refused anything in return.

    "But----"

    "Trust me, this rose is pretty much useless to me," Sophia knew a kind guy like Zed wouldn't feel at ease to take it for free. So she further said, "I only purchased it in an auction to annoy that shameless scoundrel."

    Zed looked at her with surprise.

    "There is a villain named Kiba... remember the one I mentioned last time?" Sophia continued without waiting for his answer. "That villain wanted this rose... so I bid on it and purchased it."

    Her melodious voice was filled with pride. Just remembering how she defeated Kiba in the bidding of the auction made her happy. It was a proud moment for her to teach that villain a lesson for once.

    "Besides, I believe we are friends," Sophia sweetly smiled and said. "There is no need for us to be so formal with each other."

    "You are right," Zed nodded and thanked her.

    As he transferred the flower into his storage ring, Sophia couldn't help but wonder what that scoundrel and shameless villain would think if he learned that she gave the rose to Zed for free.

    Back then, that perverted villain has bid multiple times with rare herbs, gems, and fruits, and was kind of desperate to purchase it. Yet, he was defeated by her.

    Now, she was giving it for free to her friend. She really wanted to see his reaction when he learned about this.

    Behind, Aileen was speechless by her young miss' behavior.

    "Why is she giving it for free? She couldn't be falling for this kid, right?" Aileen wondered in her heart.

    She was a bit worried. She knew how valued her young miss was in the family. Her mother was not strict but her father was different. He was always worried her daughter might fall for some man and that gave him fears. He didn't want his young, naive daughter to be taken away.

    As far as he was concerned, a possible boyfriend was no less dangerous than a femme fatale for men.

    That's why, before coming to the forest, he secretly ordered Aileen to ensure that she is kept at a safe distance from a womanizer or perverted men in general.

    Since Aileen knew her young miss' personality a bit better, she wasn't really concerned about the young masters who thought of themselves as god's gift to women.

    But now that she saw a kind, caring, selfless and intelligent man like Zed appearing again, she felt a sudden crisis.

    While she knew Zed was anything but a womanizer, Aileen was worried nevertheless. Her young miss was only eighteen and this was the age where girls fall in love.

    "Maybe I'm overthinking this! Perhaps she is just paying for the timely rescue!" Aileen tried to reason...

    A few hours later.

    The sky above the hovercraft was no longer made of red smog. It was now made of clear, bright walnut-size light dots. Despite their beauty, there was something eerie about them, and it was proven when a warning sign flashed on the control panels.

    Zed lowered the elevation while checking out the light dots. He compared them with a few events in his memories and sighed.

    "We are going to land."

    The hovercraft's speed reduced and it swept towards the ground. In just a minute, it landed above what seemed to be a remnant of a metallic slab.

    The hovercraft opened up and everyone stepped out. As Sophia observed the scenary in front of her, she opened her lips and said, "We have arrived at the outside of the central zone!"

    In front of her, there were statues and relics from ages unknown. Unlike the desert and starting point, she couldn't see beyond a few miles. There was a misty haze obstructing her vision.

    In the meantime, Zed pressed a finger on the exterior of the hovercraft. A panel appeared and he selected an option.

    The next moment, at a rate visible to the naked eye, the hovercraft began shrinking. In around thirty seconds, it was reduced to the size of an insect.

    "The hovercraft has even this ability?" Aileen was a bit taken aback. She felt it was no wonder that he could carry the hovercraft with him.

    What she didn't know was that it was the first time he used this function. Before, he didn't even know this size reducing function existed. And it didn't even matter till now as Kiba has a storage dimension.

    For Zed, it was different...

    Zed gripped the hovercraft between his fingers before transferring it to his storage ring.

    "Let's get some rest," Aileen cleared her thoughts and said.

    Zed and Sophia agreed and soon they started with dinner preparations.

    The next morning.

    After 26 hours from the opening of the core region, the path to the central zone was about to activate. The time gap was provided so that everyone got a fair chance to move from the starting point to here.

    The area where Zed and Sophia were standing was only one of the entrances. There were multiple entrances and paths but the destination was the same.

    Even the dangers in the trials were similar.

    Zed noticed many people, both young and old, in this entrance point. There were beasts and birds but they were rather pets.

    For free beasts, there was another starting point and naturally another entrance to the central zone. The pets or slave beasts, on the other hand, were different. They were properties of humans and thus arrived with their masters...

    "Ashlyn must have been to another entrance," Zed thought as he didn't find her among the crowd.

    Swoosh~!

    The light points in the sky projected rays on the ground. At the same time, with rumbling sound, the relics moved to either side, revealing a long bridge.

    He brought his eyes on the enormous bridge that was mostly hidden by mist. The bridge was white and there were faint cracks on its surface.

    It was over a hundred meters wide; something truly surprising.

    {{Those who seek blessings of evolution, prove your worth by crossing this bridge}}

    A mystic voice entered the ears of everyone. It was hard to describe the language used, because everyone who heard it, felt it was in their own mother tongues.

    Zed didn't care about the voice for he already knew whom it belonged to.

    Royal Will of the World.

    Zed then closed his eyes and felt Cosmic Spark. He felt a suppression over his connection with power Cosmic, but he wasn't worried. He knew this suppression was done by technology similar to the one used by Lisa Ray. (Chapter 27).

    Most likely, the World Government got the technology of nullifying power from this meteorite, or other meteorites which were similar to this one.

    The technology inside the core region was specifically aimed at the power Cosmic. Most likely Royal Will didn't want anyone with Cosmic power to be here...

    "I can break this suppression and transform into Kiba," Zed thought with a grave expression. "But to do that, I would need to summon my entire strength as Kiba..."

    This was not something he wanted to do. After all, the moment he summoned his full powers, the golden lightning phenomenon would start. This would mean everything within its domain would start disintegrating. That was not something he could control or stop.

    While the core region was special and perhaps resistant to this phenomenon, he was worried that it might lead to complications that would affect the area where nanites were stored. If that happened, his entire journey would be wasted.

    "I need to find a method to overpower whatever technology is used by Royal Will of the World."

    Zed didn't care a bit about the treasure vault or the knowledge or evolution. Perhaps, for the younger generation, they were the only things that mattered. But for him, despite his young age, they were useless.

    A few minutes later, people began treading the bridge with great hopes. Some wanted to acquire resources to evolve while others wanted weapons or knowledge. There were even those who have goals that weren't really related to the treasure vault.

    Zed, Sophia, and Aileen stepped on the bridge after almost everyone has already moved ahead. The moment Zed stepped on the bridge, a cluster of light wrapped his left wrist. Not only him, but similar things happened to others as well.

    The cluster of light transformed into a crystalline thread that wrapped around the wrist.

    "This thread would record our merit," Aileen said as he observed her left wrist. "Depending on the merits, the thread would transform..."

    She knew her young miss was aware and most likely even Zed, but she said just in case.

    Zed nodded before looking ahead in the mist. He could hear heart-wrenching screams and even smell an odor of blood and flesh.

    It has been years since he participated in something dangerous and thrilling.

    A faint smile appeared on his face as he thought how happy Felicity would be if she knew he was participating in a mystic trial.

    "Maybe it isn't so bad to be Zed."
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