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396 Exploiting A Rule!

    In the middle of crystalline dome-like structures, streams of fire whipped around Zed as he looked at Jenina and others.

    Sophia was dumbstruck. She never expected him to lose his unique coolness, and that too because it concerned the survival of some aliens.

    She eyed the two hen-like creatures and the egg that was in the middle of hatching. The dozen or so Life Source Shards continued to splash crimson glow on the egg, transferring vitality.

    Sophia then glanced at other alien organisms who had fierce appearances but almost no strength. Based on everything that occurred so far and her knowledge, it wasn't hard for her to realize why these alien organisms appeared to be so weak except for those two hen-like creatures.

    "For these aliens, Life Source Shard should be a vital organ or something like that," Sophia guessed with a serious expression. "Whenever a new life is born, it needs strong energy to truly born... the creatures in the habitant provide the required energy through their own Life Source Shards!"

    Sophia wasn't far from the truth.

    Almost every alien in this habitant has taken out their Life Source Shard to provide nourishment for the hatching of the egg. This was why they appeared to be so listless and lifeless. It wasn't hard to guess what would happen if they didn't get their shards back soon.

    While this might be true, no contestant in the second trial zone would care. After all, the contestants knew the nature of the world and all they wanted was to gain rewards by taking these shards. Not to mention, empathy wasn't truly a virtue one could afford to have in a world that followed the law of the jungle.

    Sophia brought her eyes back on Zed. The fire wrapped on his body scorched the air with terrifying heatwaves.

    "Mom was right!"

    Sophia's beautiful eyes sparkled with admiration for Zed.

    "A truly kind person is someone who shows kindness for even those who are not favored by society! It is easy to be kind to fellow humans but not to beasts and aliens!"

    Sophia was once again impressed by her all-knowing mother.

    More than her mother, she was impressed by Zed's character. She didn't think his impression could skyrocket again given it was already at the top, but now, his impression has already pierced the sky.

    Jenina opened her mouth and said, "Zed! We will not get any rewards!"

    She has only got two beads from the first trial. Now, her future achievements depended on the gains in this trial and the upcoming ones. If he stopped her, then while she might still pass, there would be no actual gain!

    Till now, she loved his character and admired his personality for doing what he did for her and others.  Now, it was difficult for that love and admiration to continue.

    "Beads?" Zed raised his right wrist and looked at the crystalline thread where hundreds of beads were placed.

    What he did next shocked Jenina, Sophia and others. Their eyes turned wide as saucers as he grabbed the beads and forcefully ripped them from the crystalline thread.

    Ripples of multiple colors swept out and the air buzzed as the beads fell on the ground.

    "This should be enough to compensate you all," Zed tossed hundreds of beads towards Jenina, Divya, Rita, and Sophia.

    Jenina's throat turned dry as the beads flew towards her. She unconsciously opened her hands and took a few dozen.

    "This...!"

    She knew that even if she did her best, she couldn't get more than ten beads in this trial. The earlier announcement has explained the rules and reward so she was well aware. The beads were far too precious and rare, gaining them was more than difficult.

    Now, she was getting so many and that too without doing anything!

    She stared at Zed, her mouth wide open, not knowing what to say.

    He was giving his rewards from the first trial just too protect these aliens! People risked their lives to enter the core region to participate in the trials and gain these beads to access the legendary treasure vault! Yet he was tossing them away as if they were worthless like pieces of stones!

    This was simply outrageous!

    She was more than sure that if she tried to tell this to others, no one would believe her. This action of his went beyond understanding!

    A smile appeared on Sophia's face and she walked to Zed.

    "I have more than enough!" Sophia said while returning the beads to him.

    In the first trial, while she didn't achieve impossible bead rewards like him, she has earned the second most. She has even surpassed Alistair by a small margin!

    After seeing Zed's action, she knew she wasn't the type who would take the rewards of others. She has confidence in her ability to perform better in future trials and make up for the difference.

    "Besides, I'm not a thief, unlike that shameless villain who robbed the entire auction house!" Sophia thought with a smile.

    Behind, Jenina and others' expression fell.

    Their talent was nowhere near Sophia. And they didn't have her confidence in making up for this trial in the upcoming ones.

    Now, seeing Sophia handing back the beads, how can they keep it? Wasn't their behavior shameful after all the help Zed has given?

    "There is no need to refuse or feel ashamed," Zed said, his voice polite. "What we did is a simple exchange."

    Jenina gripped the beads in her hands before nodding. The beads flashed with multiple colors, and the next moment, they fused with the crystalline thread on her right wrist.

    The fire around Zed retraced back into his body.

    CRACK

    At the same time, the egg completely cracked apart and the small hen-like creature came into existence. Its body was coated with a crystalline liquid that glittered like starlight.

    The hen-like creature that earlier attacked Zed turned around and looked at Zed.

    While it couldn't understand the conversation that took place between the humans, it understood the conclusion, and also that this male human stopped the others from taking advantage of the crucial moment.

    The hen-like creature was grateful for this. After all, if he and others have attacked while the egg was hatching, the result would have been unfortunate.

    Meanwhile, just as the hen-like creature was thinking of expressing gratitude, it quickly turned its head towards the outside of the habitant.

    Diya's expression flickered and she said, "There is a group of fifteen rushing here!"

    Jenina's heart sank and she glanced at Zed. He could stop her and others with words alone. Even if he hadn't given the beads, they wouldn't have gone against his wish due to the nature of relationship between them.

    But she knew this didn't hold true for the group of contestants coming here. His bead exchange wouldn't work here due to the corrupt nature of humans who always desired more.

    And there was not even a chance of him attacking them. The trial zone has strict punishment for contestants trying to attack or kill each other. This rule was not only to protect contestants but also to increase the difficulty. After all, the presence of this rule meant that contestants have to find the shards on their own without any chance of stealing it from others! Furthermore, the first person to grab a shard would be considered its owner.

    "No attacking or killing! This is truly bad!" Divya muttered.

    The earlier wasteland was an exception of this rule because it was not a trial zone...it was only a passage! In that wasteland, Zed could plant hidden explosives to kill that group of twenty and save themselves.

    But now there was no such opportunity. This was a truly desperate situation.

    The hen-like creature and other alien lifeforms in the habitant felt depressed. Only two of them were in a condition to do battle but the number of enemies was over ten!

    Based on the aliens' aura reading capacity, they were stronger than Zed and the four females. This was to be expected given the size of group and their relatively older age.

    The hen-like creature said to its partner to hide their offspring while it would try to stop the incoming enemies. It passed the same message to other aliens while handing them their Life Source Shards. Even after having the shards, it would take them a long while to recover and be in a situation to fight.

    "Damn! This is bad!" Sophia clenched her fists tightly. "We are helpless!"

    She could feel the group rapidly approaching as the group wasn't trying to mask its presence. It was only a matter of four minutes before they arrived here. If the aliens tried to flee, they would still be obliterated easily by the group.

    Sophia knew the bitter reality. Even if she could face the group, she knew it would be a helpless situation. Everyone here was a genius on their own right. It was an impossible task for a group of five to face fifteen! Not to mention, attacking and destroying was far easier than protecting!

    Sophia looked at Zed and was stunned to see his expression calm. There was a serenity in his eyes that made her heart thumped nervously.

    "Aren't you worried?" Sophia asked.

    Based on what he has done so far, it was obvious he wanted to protect this habitat. So how could he be so calm in this situation?

    Surely he couldn't be thinking of using explosives or something, right? There was no time for that! And even if there was, it would be against the rules and result in disastrous consequences!

    "What's there to worry about?" Zed asked in return.

    "It is a group of fifteen! There is no way you can protect those aliens!" Sophia reminded him quickly.

    "There are only three minutes left!" Jenina shouted to remind him of the intense situation. "And you can forget trying to attack or kill that group given that rule!"

    "Actually, the presence of that rule would endanger them," Zed said, his voice polite. "Thus, we have already won so why worry?"

    "Huh?"

    Sophia and others stared blankly at him. They couldn't make a sense of his words!

    How can the rule forbidding attacking or killing other contestants endanger the incoming group? That rule was obviously to protect them!

    For a moment, Sophia wondered if he has turned stupid. She was thinking when he said, "I will need a little bit of help though."

    "?!" Sophia was dumbstruck as he stated the nature of help.

    Two minutes later.

    A group of fifteen mutants arrived in the habitat with a loud sound. The fluctuations of their aura shook the ground and made crystalline dust rise up.

    The group was lead by two people. The first one a twenty-five years old mutant with ability to shoot out electrical bolts. He was named Kafir.

    The second person was same-aged with an elastic and rubber-like body. He was named Somir.

    Kafir lifted his head and gazed ahead. He saw Zed standing with Jenina, Divya, and Rita. Alongside, there was one hen-like creature.

    Kafir has an electromagnetic sensor and he could make out other aliens hiding in the domes. He obviously knew the importance of these alien lifeforms. They were carrying the precious Life Source Shard in their bodies!

    "Sirs, please leave this area," Zed respectfully said with a polite bow. "The organisms here might be aliens, but they have a life. They would be extremely grateful if you can let them live in peace."

    "What?" Kafir looked at him as if he was seeing an idiot.

    "Did I hear it right?" Somir wondered aloud.

    "I heard it as well... Most likely being first in the earlier trial has made him stupid!" Another mutant said with a grin.

    "Haha, right!"

    "Those from slums obviously have something wrong with their minds!"

    The group began laughing while slowly approaching Zed. They knew the rule so they were sure Zed woudldn't dare attack. Not to mention, none of them feared him the least bit.

    He was just a slum dweller with strong clinging to life! That's how he won the first trial! What was there to be proud of?

    Jenina was extremely nervous as the group stepped forward. While she didn't care about the well being of these aliens, she didn't want Zed to suffer from an emotional breakdown.

    After looking at the group of fifteen, she knew it was inevitable. There was just no way the aliens could survive!

    Kafir and his group were just at a distance of hundred meters when flames exploded out of Zed's body. He was like the god of fire, standing on the petals of flames.

    The air buzzed with a sizzling sound as heatwaves erupted. Jenina, Diya, Rita, and the hen-like creature jumped backward.

    "Surely you aren't thinking of attacking us, right?" Kafir asked with a mocking grin. He was sure Zed lacked the guts to do that but he still wanted to provoke.

    Zed didn't reply with words. Instead, he raised a hand and streams of flame boomed out of his palm.

    "Fuck!" Kafir was startled as he saw the flames rushing forward.

    Has this slum dweller lost it?! Doesn't he know the rule?! Or was he so eager to die?!

    Kafir was thinking as the flames exploded ahead. He didn't dare take a chance and leaped up along with his group, narrowly missing a blurring figure on the ground that crashed with the flame. The figure was so fast that it left behind no traces of its existence; no afterimages or fluctuations even as the flames slammed on it. But instead of explosion, there was nothing. It was as if the flames were all show with no might.

    At the same time, as the group jumped upward, they saw a giant fireball approaching them. Alongside, they also saw a whip of glistening liquid crashing forward, wielded by Jenina.

    "What the hell is going?!"

    "Why isn't the trial zone acting up?!"

    "Is this area free of the rule?!"

    "Most likely! Otherwise, he and Jenina would have died!"

    "We have to retaliate!"

    Kafir snapped his teeth and left the target zone of the fireball to take action. He slammed his hands together and two dazzling electricity bolts surged outward.

    Somir's limbs stretched out to its limit and he slammed an enormous fist, in the shape of a hammer, on Zed.

    At the same time, as the fireball rapidly approached the remaining members of the group, it exploded. The group has brought out all their trump cards to protect themselves from the resulting waves of blazing heat. But much to their shock, the fireball didn't explode into those destructive waves. Rather, it exploded into dazzling sparks like a spectacular firework! The sparks were beautiful!

    The whip of glistening liquid likewise exploded into beautiful mass of rain!

    The group was still trying to make sense of this strange phenomenon when the sky above them rapidly darkened.

    From the sky, two chains made of pure energy shot out. In a blink of an eye, they ripped through the skulls of Kafir and Somir!

    "WHAT?!"

    The group was shell-shocked. The speed and power of the chains were so much that Kafir and Somir didn't even notice they have already died before their attacks landed.

    "Isn't this the punishment for those who break the rule?!"

    The group couldn't make a sense.

    How was it that when Zed attacked them, nothing happened!? But when their leaders retaliated, they were killed!

    Someone please awaken the gods and inform them of this unfairness!

    If Ashlyn was here, she would snort in disdain at this group of idiots, and repeat the wise words of Zed's elder brother:

    "Work smart, not hard!"
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