"If you want to kill yourself, just tell me and I will do it properly for you!"
Ashley's face was beaming with anger and frustration, sitting on the only place suited to sit upon; the bed.
"I told you I lost my consciousness I can't recall what happened!"
Jim was sitting on the ground, facing her where the earth around was stained red with a dried pool of blood; his blood.
"You are telling me you fell without any reason, injured yourself, bled to such a degree that the whole dirt is stained red and you don't recall how this happened? There is no wound mark on your body anywhere, are you cursed?"
Jim just smiled helplessly while glancing at the door. He was sleeping on the floor when the knocks on the door woke him up. He hurried to open, with a semi-conscious mind, facing Ashley who came as promised, seeing him with clothes drenched in blood, and a ground behind soaked in blood.
Her scare and the nervous reaction she showed was logical. However when she hurried to examine his body, she found no wound at all. She then examined him with her keen eyes, finding no problem, no weakness, nothing at all; stirring her emotions and instigating a puzzled question inside her mind.
What the hell just happened here?
"I told you I can't remember anything," he stuck to his lie, knowing that he couldn't explain what happened to her.
"Were you attacked? Was it Jenny?"
"Jenny who?" he asked with some worry as it seemed someone was setting her gaze upon him. "I know no one with that name!" he added, trying to understand if she meant someone else.
"You know, just you don't know her now," Ashley replied in a way that made him more puzzled. "Sigh," she sighed when noticed the look on his face, "Do you remember when I held you to a wooden shack, slightly bigger than this one?"
The look on Jim's face grew weirder as he muttered: "I recall this, but don't recall any Jenny, plus it was a much bigger shack than this one here!"
"Well, the wall fell after you left, exposing two making love to each other," Ashley's face turned red for a moment, before she nervously added, "anyway she was inside and she was very furious, threatening to punish whoever did this!"
"That would be me?" he pointed to himself, feeling somehow strange being accused of something he hardly did. "Don't you have laws here?"
"Law?" she laughed briefly and bitterly like he said some sort of a funny yet bitter joke. "Boy, there is only one law here, the stronger gets what he wants," she said before her eyes showed a tinge of loss, making Jim feel she was recalling a bad memory.
"Are you alright?" he asked, with sincere concern over her. "You should mind your own self," she replied, with a harsh tone before adding, "anyway I came here initially to offer you a way out, but now I'm pretty sure you won't reject the offer."
"Do you want me to escape?" he asked, like it was something bizarre, and it was! He wasn't used to people getting out of their own ways to help him. "Escape to?" he asked, as he knew nothing about this world.
"Agh! Aren't you a local boy from this world, or were you locked up your entire life in a closet!"
Her angry words were harshly true, rendering him speechless. Should he tell her even her outrageous bitter version of a life was exactly his own? "I'm not from around here," he simply lied, again, as lying seemed better than telling the truth.
"And I'm from the red moon, welcome to the gathering of outlander folks," she sarcastically replied, before shaking her head and saying:
"There is an option to return to the capital, or to hit the road towards the next city. It's a one week walk, so if you want to reach there soon you should start moving now."
He glanced at her not knowing what to say! Any solution that required him to enter a city or a town under this empire banner wasn't an acceptable one. "Isn't there a way to leave the empire?" he asked, while evading her glances so she didn't suspect him.
But she already suspected him! "Going outside the empire in the dark required to be an esteemed member of our group, as there is none out there can do this for you but us!" she said, with an amusing look as she watched him closely like she was watching a kid.
As for him, he had all the routes blocked, at least for now. "Do you mean here, or the main group?" he raised his head, knowing for sure that Ashley had guessed a thing or two from his words and attitude.
"The main group of course, this group of ours is just a worthless group in the whole organization."
"So I should aim for something bigger than here?"
"You should first survive here before thinking about going anywhere else!"
Her words shook the bitter truth clear in himself. He sighed, inwardly, as he knew he should grow stronger once that mysterious voice appeared again.
Since waking up, he tried to call upon the old man more than a dozen times, but the old man kept his silence, reminding him of what happened when he gained that mysterious fog around his body.
"Do you really plan to stay h"
"Come out you worthless piece of shit! Come out and face your own death! I'm dead settled on you tonight, either you or me will remain breathing after this fight!"
The look over Ashley's face drastically changed, and Jim didn't need her to say a word to know who exactly was calling upon him from the outside.
"It's Jenny, right?" he muttered, closer to being a whisper, and Ashley just nodded.
"Don't try to be smart and run away, I got the whole shack surrounded and all those living here are now waiting for your sweet neck to be handed over to me to chop it nice and clean. Come, don't be afraid, one way or another you will die tonight!"
"She is quite energetic," Jim tried to crack a joke, but the grim look on Ashley's face made him realize his situation was far worse than what he imagined.
"She is slightly stronger than me, and she isn't alone. Sorry pal, you have to face this on your own," she said, shrugging away from this responsibility despite her being the one throwing him into this mess from the start.
"At least tell me her strong traits," he whispered, as he knew nothing about his enemy.
"She is a fire witch of first category, loves to use her own fingers as a weapon," she was about to keep going but she felt he knew nothing. "Do you even know what a fire witch means?" she asked.
"A person with strong ability to control fire, but not to ignite it," he replied, "I said I'm a stranger, not an alien!" he added.
"I just wanted to make sure you understand what I said," she shook her head while adding, "anyway, she uses a short knife and loves to have a close fight with her enemies. A dance; that is what she usually says about the fight."
Jim didn't follow her words anymore as he thought for a moment, trying to call over the sleeping old man with no response. "Sigh," he shook his head, helplessly.
He didn't imagine after running successfully from a death penalty, evaded dying by bleeding, he would finally fall on the hands of such a mad girl! "Do you have any weapons for me? Any armor?" he asked, as he would prefer not to go out there naked.
"You are really" she shook her head while touching a small ruby ring in her hand. The next moment a sword and a strong looking armor were there on the ground. "Suit yourself, this is the furthest I can do for you," she said before standing up to leave.
"After this can I invite you for dinner?" he hurried to ask before her hand reached the door; paused there for a moment before opening the door. She turned to him, watching him wearing the armor. "Just make sure it's not a dinner at your funeral!"
"Sure, it's a date then," he smiled as he watched her back while leaving his shack, closing the door behind while the sound of Jenny was filling the world outside it.