Lord smiled, flashing his white sharp teeth, “You’ve made the right choice. This will open up a world of possibilities for you. I’ve never had a disciple before, as my first apprentice I expect great things from you.”
His bright eyes suddenly turned serious and sombre, a chill spread across the room and Jae felt goosebumps on his skin. “I must warn you though, this will not be an easy path Jae.” Lord warned, “you could die with this training, if you aren’t prepared to give your life to improve your strength, than you should turn away from me here. I won’t judge you for it.”
The atmosphere was tense and Jae swallowed, he felt a weight on his back, but he gripped his fists. “I never used to know how terrible weakness could be, but now that I know I don’t want it. I don’t want to be at the mercy of others. I don’t want to be looked down upon, I don’t want pity. I want to be strong. I’d rather die becoming strong than live being weak” a ferocious anger rolled in the depths of his heart.
Jae thought of Derek, he thought of all the bullies, he thought of Stephanie. He’d had enough of it.
Lord watched as Jae’s brown eyes became black with anger, he could see the storm brewing in Jae’s soul.
“He reminds me of myself from all those years ago” Lord thought.
“Good” Lord smiled, “That’s the determination you need to go down this path.”
“Now then” Lord stood up, “You should go to your home, sort out your affairs and be ready to meet me tomorrow, say at 8am. We will begin your training then. You will find me at Gallows Park.”
When Lord left Jae finally realised what he’d agreed to, he was now providing a homeless mad man with meals for a chance to get strength. “Man I’m so desperate I’m making crazy decisions”
Jae sighed, but maybe it wouldn’t be too bad, perhaps Lord really could train him properly. But providing a man of his size with three meals a day wouldn’t be cheap. If Jae stopped his gym membership and stopped paying for kickboxing lessons he could probably just about afford it, but wouldn’t do that until he verified how effective Lords training was.
Jae’s mind was going all over the place when he finally got on the train. He was so consumed by his own thoughts that he barely noticed the time go by, before he knew it he was back in Twicking.
When he stepped out onto the small platform he heard someone cry out, “Sweet Jesus, what the hell happened to you Jae!”
He turned around and he saw the station worker, Steve.
Steve was a middle-aged black man with soulful brown eyes who managed the ticket booth and information stand at the station. He was also close friends with his Uncle Simon.
Jae felt a bit flustered when he saw Steve, he had been hoping to avoid everyone.
“Hi Steve, how’s work, has it been busy?” he asked.
“Has it been busy?” Steve repeated incredulously, “Boy look at your face, were you jumped or something. Do you want me to call the police or take you to a walk in medical centre?”
Steve walked up to him, concerned, “Who did this to you, Simon said the bullying at that school had stopped.”
Jae nervously looked away in shame, “It wasn’t from school” he lied, “I was just careless and I did something stupid. I’d rather not talk about it…and Steve don’t bring this up with my Uncle. Please.”
Steve didn’t know what to say, he just sighed. He came out of his booth with a first aid kit and handed Jae an ice pack, “Keep that pressed against that black eye, that looks ugly. If you’re feeling even a little sick after this go to the hospital. I once had a friend who got into a fight, got punched in the head too hard, he said he was fine to everyone afterwards but then he died the next day. So be careful.”
Jae smiled thankfully at Steve, there were so many kind people in the world, why wasn’t everyone this nice. He gratefully took the ice pack and headed home.
Jae’s house was only five minutes from the station, so he got there quickly. His Uncle Simon was his Dad’s older brother. Simon worked as a pharmacist and his wife Anna was a Children’s book writer. Jae’s cousins, their sons, were a lot older than him and lived on their own.
Their house was nice detached estate, it had tall fence and a thatched roof. When Jae got to the green gate and saw the pretty front garden, filed with Anna’s flowers and fauna, he felt nervous.
There was no way his Aunt and Uncle hadn’t noticed that he was gone for the entire night it would be weird if they hadn’t. Would they be really angry or worried when he got inside?
He didn’t want them to be worried, they were such nice people. Last time the bullying had started they had gone crazy, Anna had screamed at the headmistress until she lost her voice, Simon had filed an official complaint to the school board. They had made sure that the boys were suspended, and they had made Jae promise to tell them if the bullying started again.
Jae had broken that promise.
Because of the fuss they had made and the suspension there had even been article in the local news about bullying at Fair Academy. Derek and his lackeys got scolded a lot by the school and their own parents, that’s probably why they had been bent on making Jae’s life miserable when they came back.
At first Jae thought he’d be safe from the bullies when their suspension ended, he thought they had learnt their lesson, but they came back more intent on making Jae’s life miserable.
Jae hadn’t told Simon or Anna about the continuation of the bullying because he didn’t want them to worry, and he didn’t want them making a fuss again. Things would only get worse for him if they did.
Especially now that Derek and his crew has those nude photos of him. As brave as Jae had tried to seem before, even threatening to report them, he was scared of those photos leaking on the internet. Once things like that got online they stayed online.
If he told his Uncle and Aunt and they made a fuss, Derek might release those photos just to spite him.
Jae considered going to the police but what could they really do. Derek and his mates were still technically minors, and they had beat him up and taken photos of him but they’d probably get off with warnings from the police at most maybe a short stint in a detention center. But knowing Derek, who held all kinds of grudges for the smallest things, the moment the punishment was over he’d come after him.
Derek was capable of all kinds of evil. He had left Jae tied up to a tree in a park supposedly filled with dangerous individuals. He was probably capable of doing much worse if provoked.
Just thinking of Derek made him shiver.
But how would he explain his injuries to Simon and Anna, he couldn’t hide them, they were bound to see and than they’d make a fuss.
He sighed, he could think this all over for the entire day but he’d get nowhere. He needed to go in and face the music.
Jae opened the green gate. He walked up to the black painted door with the Silver number 14 across it. He picked up his spare key which he’d hidden underneath the welcome mat and slowly opened the door.
The house was quiet. There was no one in the cream coloured hallway. Jae quietly took off his shoes and put them on the shoe rack. He them silently closed the door behind him and tip toed to the stairs.
He creeped up to the stairs and started to climb the steps. Jae was glad that they had such a fluffy white carpet, since it made his steps even more silent.
He was halfway up the stairs when he heard a voice behind him.
“Jae is that you dear” it was Anna, “How was your sleepover?”
“Sleepover!?” Jae was confused, what sleepover.
“Y’know the sleepover you texted me about last night. You said you wouldn’t be coming home because you were spending the night at your friends house, remember?” Anna said questioningly.
She was staring at Jae’s back wondering why he wasn’t turning around to talk to her.
Jae hadn’t sent his Aunt a text, but he knew who would have.
It must have been Derek, Derek had taken his phone and told that to his Aunt that he was having some kind of ‘sleepover’ so that she and his Uncle wouldn’t question where he was the whole night.
Derek was calculative and twisted, the fact that he’d done that made Jae shiver.
“Oh that sleepover” Jae lied, “Yeah it was great and now I’m super tired, we played games the whole night and I want to have a shower and sleep some more” he said.
“Well okay, I’m glad you had a good time. Simon and I are glad you finally have a good friend you can hang out with. Invite them over some time.”
Jae sighed inwardly, ” Yep I will. I’m going to have that shower now.”
He started to run up the stairs.
“Okay well grab some food from the kitchen if you want some early lunch, I made tons of cheese sandwiches today.” Anna shouted after him.
“I will” Jae yelled back as he ran into his room, shutting and locking the door behind him.
He felt relieved that he hadn’t had to tell them about his injuries but he was annoyed. It felt like he was Derek’s toy and he was doing everything he wanted.
He sighed and started pulling off the dirty old clothes, he tossed them into the wash basket. He walked into the bathroom that was connected to his room and doubled back as he saw his reflection.
He was a mess.
There were deep purple bruises all over his body. He had felt sore before but now he realised why he ached all over. There were fresh rope marks on his wrists, and his face was a sight.
No wonder that random lady, Stephanie and even Steve had been so worried once they saw him. He really looked awful.
Instead of a shower Jae made himself a big warm soapy bath.
As he sat in it he whined because of how much his muscles and body in general was aching.
He lay there and he looked at the ceiling.
“Is magic really real” he wondered, could Lord magically transform his awful life.
He sighed some more as he lay down soaking in the warm bath, even though he felt like crying he didn’t have the energy.
At times like this he really missed his Mum.
When he finally got into the bath he pressed Steve’s ice pack against his eye, jumped into the bed and slept the whole day. He faintly remembered Simon knocking on his door, calling him for dinner, but he’d been too tired to go down and eat.
When he next opened his eyes it was morning. He looked at the clock on his wall and realised it was 5am, he had slept the whole day.
He felt like death. He was supposed to meet Lord for their first lesson but he didn’t know if he could. His whole body hurt so bad, he just wanted to stay in bed for longer.
But he had promised himself he would get stronger. He weakly climbed out of bed and forced himself to have a shower, he hoped his first lesson with Lord would be worth it.