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393 Being Zed Is Difficult!

    Willard's internals organs tightened and squeezed as he writhed on the ground. Even though only one part of his body was badly injured, every cell of his body felt a burning pain. He felt nauseated and dizzy.

    Through his barely open eyelids, he saw the blurry images of the culprits responsible for his current situation. They were having a relaxed discussion, almost as if he didn't exist here.

    Sophia patted the dust off her skirt and said, "Zed, tell me something."

    "Sure," Zed replied after consuming a vitality-boosting pill.

    Even though he didn't use Firestorm for even four seconds, it has consumed a lot of energy. Thankfully, he has pills to revitalize his exhausted body.

    "How did you know about this ugly toad following us?" Sophia pointed at Willard and asked.

    From the start, Willard has been invisible and has left behind no traces of his existence when he first arrived in this area. Yet, just after the explosion that killed the group of twenty, Zed has launched a fireball in a seemingly random direction without making any sense. But this random attack was cut apart by Willard, making others realize there was a mutant with the ability of invisibility.

    Zed thought for a moment before answering, "Let's say I'm extremely sensitive to killing intent... and when I felt killing intent, I knew someone was targetting us. I just had to sense the area by using the basics of science related to the fire element."

    What he said was only partly true.

    The moment Willard showed killing intent, Zed's premonition ability warned him. The warning was rather at the final moment since as per Zed's instincts, Willard couldn't be considered a life and death crisis. Yes, for Zed being sneak attacked might lead to a fatal injury but that would only force his instincts to transform him into Kiba. As such, his premonition ability didn't deem Willard worthy enough to warn Zed till the final moment.

    But even though the time window was small, Zed has enough experience to use it to its full potential. As he was a fire elementalist, all he has to do was find an area with heat disturbance. After all, every living organism both absorbs and emits heat. This would naturally create fluctuations people consider as heat signals.

    Willard might be invisible but since he was only a Gamma-rank mutant, he couldn't mask his heat signatures or hide the heat disturbances. Perhaps, if he was a higher-rank mutant, his invisibility ability would have evolved, and as such, these flaws would not be present.

    Alas, advancing to Beta-rank was easier said than done...

    "Ingenious!" Sophia remarked with a soft smile.

    Most people would restrict the ability of fire manipulation to just destruction, but he used it for reconnaissance.

    It might seem simple but how many mutants could come up with this use in such a short time when an opponent was about to launch a sneak attack?

    Besides, was it really as easy as he spoke? To use fire manipulation for purposes other than destruction would mean a great understanding of elemental laws. Something which can be only understood at a higher level.

    Advancing to the next level not only meant further mastery over own's ability and growth in strength, but also ensured the ability can be used in various ways.

    Like in the case of Willard, had he advanced further, he could have turned the entire area invisible or make specific things invisible as per his wish, and thus creating chaos. Had he such powers, then even a powerful group of mutants would be troubled. After all, he could make specific group members invisible which would create confusion and increase the risk of hurting a companion through friendly fire. And if he made certain environmental and geological factors invisible, then the situation would turn even worse.

    So evolution to the next level was not just an arithmetic increase in strength or mastery.

    "What should we do with Willard?" Jenina asked.

    "Kill!" Divya, Rita, and even Sophia answered simultaneously.

    Women especially younger ones were considered as faint-hearted and peace-loving but not them. They had no sympathy for a guy like Willard who planned to loot and kill them.

    Zed remained silent with his expression turning complex.

    "Another guinea pig died before serving any use," Zed thought as Jenina beheaded Willard with a sharp thread of glistening liquid.

    Zed silently prayed for the safety of other contestants. He really wanted them to fare well in the upcoming trials so that they could advance further into the central zone and share his burden when the time comes.

    If the geniuses and others came to know what he has in mind, they would turn around and flee for their lives. The enticement of the treasure vault wouldn't stop them for a moment...

    ...

    An hour later.

    Zed, Sophia, Jenina, and others reached the end of the wasteland. It was a rift that was circular in shape, spanning for god knows how long.

    Since this region was circular, no matter what direction one steps in, they would find this rift at the end.

    "We are going to the next trial zone!" Sophia said before jumping into the depthless rift. Zed and others followed without any concern for their safety.

    The announcement earlier has explained to them how to leave this region to proceed to another trial zone. It was by jumping into the rift!

    The moment they jumped, a bright glow engulfed them and they were transported to a new area.

    It was another hall similar to the one where the first trial took place.

    Zed looked around and when he saw hundreds of youths, he sighed in relief. He was truly happy to see very few casualties.

    As he checked others, they did the same.

    Many shocked visions landed on him as if they couldn't believe he would arrive here. Most likely, they knew about the group of twenty or Willard chasing after Zed. In a minute, almost half of the hall broke into discussion.

    "He survived?!"

    "That group didn't find him?"

    "Most likely!"

    "Obviously! If that group had found him, he would have been dead!"

    "You guys might not know but in the slums, everyone is a fast runner! They always have to flee for their lives!"

    "Haha, no wonder he survived!"

    "Slums insects are always clinging to their poor life! That's why the first trial even gave him so many beads!"

    Many insulting remarks came from various corners of the hall. There were jeers, taunts, and mocking laughter.

    The voices belonged to those who were jealous of Zed's achievements. Knowing that he was originally a slum dweller, the jealousy has turned into hatred. They lacked means to steal the beads in this area so they decided to vent their envy and hatred by insulting remarks.

    Sophia's face fell as more abusive remarks were directed at Zed. She gripped her fists tightly as she thought of how unfair this was.

    Why should his non-privileged background deserve so much condemnation? He was far greater person than everyone combined!

    "See that insect! He is still hiding behind a woman!" Another taunting remark came.

    Sophia has enough of this. Energy waves exploded out of her body and she tapped a foot on the floor to charge forward.

    "Sophia, don't give in to their provocation," Zed gripped her shoulder and said in a calm tone.

    Sophia stopped as she contemplated his words. Had she launched an attack, she would have broken the unwritten laws since this area belonged to the trial section! It was a protected area unlike the region she has just passed!

    She swept her glance at those who taunted Zed earlier and realized what they had in mind. They wanted to provoke Zed so that he would give in to anger and make a mistake. If he did such a thing, he might even face death as a punishment!

    As she thought of this, she felt she has lacked calmness. He wouldn't have harmed, but she sure would have died given she was the one taking action at his behest.

    "Ugly toads!" Sophia muttered before sitting down to calm down.

    Zed smiled at her cute behavior.

    He didn't find those earlier remarks by other contestants insulting, but still, given his true personality, he wanted to retort with vicious statements that would make them cough up blood in anger.

    Sadly, those types of statements were reserved for Kiba...

    "Being Zed is difficult!"

    Zed now disliked the self-control and restraint he has designed for his current form.
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