"Chop these heads and roll them back to their capital!"
The moment he reached the black tigers' camp, this sudden shout came from inside the wooden walls, followed by the sound of weapons cutting something.
Jim swallowed his throat, as he didn't imagine the black tiger base of operation to be so near from the capital; inside the famous Hollom forest.
The forest was famous, as the main road linking the capital with the distant coastal largest city passed from this forest. The forest was vast and covered a huge stretch of land, enough to be drawn in finger breadth on any map of the empire.
Jim glanced at those around him, he couldn't see their faces but he felt they didn't see anything unusual about that shout and the sound that followed.
He was a stranger, dressed in a strange outfit covered entirely with fog. Once entered the camp through the simple wooden gate, he was led by his group towards one direction; opposite to the direction the shout came from.
'Phew, I thought my head would be the next to be chopped' he sighed inwardly while being happy to evade such a fate for the second time today. He believed this day was his luckiest day in his life; nothing bad would ever happen to him.
"So, you are that naked young man who crushed the gate? With what? Huh?!"
He stood in front of a vulgar rude man, seemingly the leader of this place. A giant man he was, not tall but broad, with weight over a hundred and fifty kilograms at least. He wore a spacious shirt that Jim felt it was made of joining two shirts together, to be able to match his huge body!
His hairy chest appeared from the loose upper buttons of the shirt. Jim just killed the urge to reply to him that he was the naked man, not himself; if he had a death wish then he would say that!
The man with huge head, scarce hair over it, with a thick beard reaching to his chest, glanced at Jim from up to bottom. He paused for a moment at his waist, making Jim quite uncomfortable.
'What are you looking at pervert!' he bellowed at him only in his thoughts, however on the surface he tried to maintain his calm while replying:
"I'm not naked, and the gate seemed to be long decayed before I pumped into it."
"Decayed? Boy, this gate is made out of the strongest metal in the world! even if I pump my rock-like head all day long, I won't be able to leave a mark on it. Not breaking it with your toothpick-like head!"
The man laughed on his silly joke while his huge body vibrated like it was full of water. Jim held the urge to say a mean remark once more, trying to keep his head intact over his neck, so he remained silent.
"Have you seen it or he told you some tales to exaggerate his worth?"
"We were there boss, and he really pumped his toothpick-like head towards the gate and smashed it like it was made out of tofu," Ashley said.
"Tofu, tsk, girls!" the rude leader retorted back with a sneer before glancing over Jim for a while before saying:
"Listen kid, we have no place for any weakling, so if you can't prove your worth, we will have to chop your head and make it roll to the capital."
"What?!!" he couldn't control himself anymore as he exclaimed out in surprise and discontent from the words of that rude leader.
"Oh, the cub has fangs boys, hahaha!"
He laughed again on his silly joke and those around him in this dirty looking place laughed with him.
"Listen kid, prove your worth or we will prove our blades, hahaha!" again he added a joke that only people of this group knew about, as all laughed on it like it was the funniest thing ever in the world.
"You will give him a place to stay. We have a mission in two days, you can test him there," he said to Ashley who side glanced at Jim for a moment before asking:
"A cub or a lion?"
"A lamp of course, hahaha!"
Again he laughed and all laughed, all except Ashley who only smiled faintly before turning to leave. She grabbed Jim's hand in a firm move, dragging him like a little lamp behind her, as if she was taking him to the slaughter house.
Jim followed her like a child following his big sis. She seemed upset and he was confused, not knowing what to say or where he should start wondering about.
"What does a lamp mean?" he asked, and Ashley just mumbled something he didn't hear before she loudly said:
"It's the far most dangerous role in any mission, a role that no one will volunteer to take. Those who take it usually didn't return back."
"What?!!" he felt great anger as this wasn't the kind of treatment he expected as a reward for what he did! "I just saved you, all of you, and you didn't lose anyone thanks to me!" he bellowed at her.
The next moment she grabbed him strongly with her two hands, carrying his thin body to wave him in the air before slamming him hard on a wooden wall.
The wooden wall all cracked in an instant, showing glass like branches extending from the place of his back.
"Listen you moron, this isn't a fair paradise or a meeting of your lovey dovey friends; we are the black tigers. We are the most vicious and cruel hearted villains in the entire empire! you didn't save our as*es back there, and even if you did, don't expect anything back, not even a thank you!"
Her tone thundered across the whole place while her eyes glared at him, making him smell the scent of burnt flesh his own!
She was domineering, angry and impulsive, but he didn't feel any hostility from her. In the next moment she let him go, turned around and walked with each leg stamping the ground violently like a heavy giant walking on earth.
"Sigh, if not I was too weak for you, tsk!" he muttered and his words were heard perfectly by her. She just paused for a brief moment, making his heart leap inside his chest before she continued walking without commenting.
He moved after her, and just after the two turned and vanished behind a couple of wooden shacks, the one Jim just hit with his back finally disintegrated. The wall crumbled into pieces, revealing two lovers in an intimate action of love at this moment; completely naked!
Jim followed Ashley not knowing about the huge ruckus that occurred accidently by him.
She led him towards one of the smallest shacks he ever saw here. It was only three meters in four, like a tight small room, making him remember the days where he lived inside a small basement room. A room that wasn't meant for him- was made for the deceased old dog of the family.
"Get inside. I will bring you food in the evening," she said with a direct stern look that made her face brighten up with blood, with a tinge of anger; a redness that brightened her beauty in his eyes.
"Thanks," he wholeheartedly thanked her, and she just gritted her teeth before leaving him fast to do her own stuff.
"Sigh, such a warm heart is covered with a thicker veil of coldness than my fog," he murmured as he entered the shack and closed the door on himself.
The room was strangely identical to the room he once had in his old home; one small bed that he was pretty sure his legs wouldn't fit and would be hanged in the air, a tiny rounded table that a candle would fill completely, two small wooden chairs made for a five years old kid, and finally the lightning orb.
"Is destiny mocking me or what?!!" he loudly crumbled as he used to do when he would be sure no one was there to hear him. Back in the home he left; the walls had deep marks from the constant hitting and boxing he did to vent his frustration and anger. The marks came from his blooded hands, not from the broken wood!
He sat on the bed, feeling the bitter funny nature of his fate, before glancing over his cloaked fog again. "So it didn't affect this stupid old bed. I would only affect things that I violently hit, right?" he talked as if the fog had a sanity and could answer him.
As he got no answer, he checked the orb with the curiosity he always had since he was four years old. This orb was formed entirely of a fine tier light energy, with a wisp of a fire energy embedded in it.
"It's definitely higher in quality than the one I used to use," he sighed before taking the orb in his hand, feeling its warmth, trying to instigate his lost power once more.
Since he was four years old, his powers started to grow and take shape. For others, no one believed him, as no one saw anything of what he was speaking about; which was a thing that almost drove him crazy.
And he was called the crazy Jim by all his peers, friends, neighbors, and even family!
What he could do was something that he could best describe as the orb in his hand; globular, bright, warm, and made him feel secure.
Despite all the mockery and insult he got, he never cared about them. He always kept his soul protected by the warmth and light which he was able to summon.
Until that doomed day five years ago! He lost his ability, he lost his warmth; he lost everything!
"Curse you, you hustlers, you thieves! You stole my powers and cursed me for being a leftover! I swear I won't rest until I take back what is rightfully mine, plus a small payback for all I suffered on your dirty hands!"
His hatred was so strong and authentic, running deep inside his soul to the degree that awakened the sleeping old man inside him.