"Duck your head or die!"
In the early hours of the morning, and in this special day for the empire and its capital, not that surprising for this shout to be heard a couple of blocks away from Jim's current place.
The entire world around him was silent, vacant of any living signal, except for him running with his utmost speed, and that sudden shout that came a couple of blocks behind him.
He turned to see a group of cloaked individuals running towards the same direction he was running towards; the gate of this city.
"I said duck or die! Are you deaf or having a suicidal wish?!!"
The sound came again, clearer this time as its owner was just slightly over fifty meters off Jim, as both sides were running in the same wide street right now; one of the mainline streets of this capital.
He totally ignored her, as he knew her gender from the tone. He was just distracted right now, and thus his speed declined. Besides, running towards his nearby goal in this empty atmosphere dulled his senses, like he had already fled to safety.
"try to catch me if you can," he bellowed back with a short laugh, as he picked up his speed again, running as fast as he could heading towards the close by gates.
"What are you wearing in the morning? Is this new fashion here in the capital?"
He underestimated her, as in the next second she passed by him, with a greater speed that reminded him of the bitter fact; he wasn't the only strong person in town!
The cloaked girl wearing this black cloak that had some hidden effects to shield her face from him moved fast, bypassing him.
Like darted arrows, more people passed him wearing black cloaks, all heading towards the nearby gate. He felt their gazes falling on him, however he didn't mind that. If he passed by himself right now with this strange fog around his body, then he would also stare.
He couldn't follow them for a minute, as they vanished from his eyesight with their rapid speed. "Will I have such speed one day?" he muttered as he asked himself another, more important question.
"Who are they?"
The hour was early in the capital, especially in such a holiday; so these people's presence seemed odd, much odd than his presence here. "Are they escaping from something like me? Or trying to catch up with something?" he thought to himself before shaking off these ideas, as the walls were now towering in front of him, blocking his eyesight.
He was running in the main street, and if he kept heading down this path, he would eventually end up with the enormous gate of the city. In ten minutes, and after passing many empty side streets, he ended up in the main plaza of the city gate, the wing plaza.
Just as he was a minute or two away from the gate, he heard this loud explosion followed by some strange shouts and apparently chaotic movements at the gate. His heart fell, as it seemed there were people still awake there; soldiers!
The last type of people he wanted to face right now!
"Shit!" he inwardly cursed his bad luck, however he didn't change his path. Running from the center of the capital to here took roughly half an hour, and if he wanted to head to the other gate he would waste at least an hour.
He wouldn't do that except for a good reason, and he wasn't that weak, meager person he was before; so he continued running fast towards the gate, uncaring about the dangers possibly lurking there.
A series of explosions welcomed him the moment he reached there, and he realized the reason behind this. The cloaked group of people he met just before were now engaged in a strong battle with the local garrison of the gate; and different techniques and spells were used from the two sides.
"Damn it, I have to rush to the gate no matter what!"
The gate, which was usually half opened at night, was now closing its doors after that sudden attack. He lamented these crazy groups of fighters, as they turned his perfect escape plan into a nightmare.
As he decided that, he didn't stop running, heading straight towards the about to be closed gate. The gate was so high, built of the thickest toughest ore the humans ever knew; the Rekano ore.
His appearance in this strange fog covering his entire body came as a sudden incident to both sides; none expected someone as crazy as him to jump directly between this wild conflict!
Suddenly he was hit by a spell launched from a distance; as one of the long ranged soldiers aimed his spell and hit him. Dust rose, forming a thick cloud around the place Jim was at right now, invoking the sighing responses from the cloaked team.
"Damn it; why are you attacking me, idiot?" Jim darted like a lion from the middle of this thick brownish dust cloud. His sudden appearance coupled with his complaining words made everyone speechless.
How could a normal weak looking youngster take such a tier three spell and look perfectly fine?
However, there was no time to react, as Jim headed towards the gate, with that soldier who hit him just now standing between him and the closed gate.
The gate was almost closed, and that made Jim more frustrated. So, he headed directly towards the gate, hitting the soldier in his path.
The soldier screamed out of extreme pain as he was launched a couple of meters high in the air like he was a sandbag! Jim didn't even glance at him; the soldier wasn't his target; it was his obstacle.
He kept running, and this made the soldiers quite skeptical and hesitating. "Follow that foggy naked man!" the shout of that female from before came strangely to make the corners of his eyes twitch. "Hey lady, I'm not naked!" he shouted back as he jumped, trying to catch the gate as if he was about to grab a normal house door before it was closed.
However, he was a few moments late! The gate closed and everyone pictured this poor crazy youngster hitting the gate and bounced back like a rubber ball.
That was the sound of their illusions shattered under what Jim just did; as he didn't have time to stop himself from heading towards the gate; so he jumped, venting all his frustration over this gate.
And the gate couldn't hold him back in his steps as all imagined!
The place where he crashed into the gate cracked open, forming a large hole, a hole that was enough to pass a couple of adult men through it!
The sides of this hole were full of long deep cracks, giving everyone the impression this gate wasn't made of the Rekano ore, but from mere glass! A cheap version of it as well!
"I told you before, follow that naked man!" the girl shouted again with a loud laugh, and instantly the group of cloaked intruders darted forward, skipping any attacks or fights, heading towards the damaged gate, and passing easily through the hole!
A cloud of smoke rose from the hole, covering their escape, while the soldiers were left speechless, as they let the intruders and Jim leave while examining their gate with shocked faces.
Was this their prideful gate that was made centuries ago? Was it replaced without them knowing that?
They kept asking themselves this question that would haunt them for the rest of their lives without having a proper answer.
"Hey naked man, that was such a nice trick you pulled out there. If you have nowhere to go, come with us to the lair of the black tigers, I promise you a warm welcome and a good meal."
The girl reached the side of Jim in no time, as she gave him this offer. Jim was pissed off at her calling him naked man, however he was now in desperate need to go away from here as far as possible.
And he just got an invitation to go to one of the well-hidden spots of the legendary black tiger's group!
It was the world infamous anti-empire rebellious forces that caused severe headache to the royal family and the higher ups in the empire for generations after generations.
"Sure, I would be pleased to come with you," he replied with a wide grin over his face.
"Nice, try to keep up. I'm Ashley, by the way."
They waved their hands from far, as a sign for shaking and introducing each other, before the girl went up ahead while Jim became surrounded with three black cloaked rebels.
He was like a prisoner, however he knew they must feel much doubt towards him. He didn't care, as long as they would take him away from here, he wouldn't mind even going with them to the notorious rebellious movement as theirs.