"There's a town up ahead," Zola said. "We can go buy food and supplies." She and Jiro had been traveling for a day since Mafe was destroyed. Jiro didn't respond and just followed Zola into the town.
Jiro began feeling uncomfortable going through the town. Several builings had been vandalized. Groups of boys sitting in dark alleyways turned their heads to stare at him and Zola. A few boys had knives and some were fighing other boys. Zola seemed to notice this as well and motioned for Jiro to pick up the pace. They stopped to eat for awhile. As they did so, Jiro couldn't help feeling the stares of the boys burning into his back. Zola put a hand on his back.
"Don't worry. We'll get out of here as quickly as possible," Zola told him. Jiro calmed down a little, but not much.
"Those boys look like they'd kill someone in an instant," Jiro muttered. After they were done eating, Zola looked up at the sky. The sun was starting to set.
"Sorry, Jiro, but we'll have to spend the night in this run-down town," Zola said.
"Great. . ." Jiro murmured.
"While I go buy supplies, you go and find us and inn to stay for the night," Zola said, handing him a small bag of gold. "When you've reserved a room, meet me here. Be careful." Jiro nodded in understanding and ran off. He glanced around warily, wanting to avoid being jumped by a gang up boys. However, as Jiro turned a corner, he ran into a taller boy. Jiro fell to the ground, dropping the bag of gold and quickly picked it back up. The boy turned and glared at him. Three more boys, all taller and stronger than Jiro, came up behind the first boy. The boy Jiro crashed into grabbed the collar of Jiro's shirt and lifted off the ground. He was eying the bag of gold.
"Mind handing over that gold?" the boy asked. "I don't think you wanna die today." With his free hand, he punched Jiro in the face and threw him back to the ground.
"Leave me alone!" Jiro spat. The boy laughed.
"Make us, weaking!" he replied. Jiro felt a rush of anger at the insult and shot up, about to throw a puch at the boy. The boy grabbed Jiro's fist and threw him into the dead-end alley nearby. Jiro landed on a pile of boxes and slid over the ground, hitting his head on the builing wall at the end of the short alley. The four boys walked into it, cracking their knuckles in anticipation. Jiro got up and pressed himself up against the wall, finding no way of escaping. One boy kicked him in the stomach, making Jiro slump to his hands and knees. The boy kicked Jiro in the ribs several times, making a small trickle of blood come out of the corner of his mouth.
The beating stopped and Jiro looked up to see why. The boy had backed away and another took his place. He used his foot to push Jiro flat onto the ground and started punching the back of his head into the ground multiple times. When he was done, he watched in satisfaction as Jiro struggled to stand. His forehead had a large bloody gash, the blood running down his face.
"Damnit, Zola! Where are you?!" Jiro muttered to himself. Unknown to him, Zola was out of sight, watching the whole thing and waiting for something to happen. The boys started to laugh and Jiro glared at them. A metal bar caught his attention and he dove for it, picking it up in and instant and swinging it at one of them. The bar made contact with a boy's head and knocked him back. The boy was unconscious, the side of his head starting to bleed. The remaining three turned to Jiro and pulled out knives.
"You're gonna die for that one, kid!" One snarled. He swung the knife at Jiro, Jiro trying to dodge but the knife cut him deeply in the arm. Jiro clutched it in pain, feeling the blood seep from in between his fingers and run down the back of his hand. Another boy stabbed him in the shoulder and pulled the knife back out. In response, Jiro weakly swung the metal bar, but a boy grabbed the end of it and yanked it out of Jiro's hand before swinging it at Jiro's head, knocking him back. The boy Jiro had knocked out was just now starting to regain consciousness and he pulled out a knife of his own.
Jiro pushed past the boys and tried escaping, but one boy threw his knife, sticking it in Jiro's back. Jiro screamed and collapsed to the ground. His strength was begining to leave him, and yet a new strength felt like it was replacing it. The knife was yanked out of his back and Jiro felt more knives being driven into his back and were pulled out again. A boy then kicked Jiro into a wall and delivered a punch to his stomach, making more blood come out of Jiro's mouth. The bag of gold fell to the ground and another boy picked it up. At that moment, Zola was about to interfere before the boys killed Jiro when a blue light coming from him made her stop and smile.
"His Shadow has finally been awakened," she murmured.
Jiro heard the boys scream and he opened his eyes. In front of him was a teal minotaur creature. Looking down, Jiro saw that the bottom of it was connected to his feet. He realized that this must be the Shadow Zola said that he possessed. The Shadow looked down at Jiro.
"You needed me?" it asked. Jiro didn't respond and continued to stare in awe at the Shadow. The boys yelped when the Shadow fixed his attention on them. They turned and ran, but the Shadow punched the ground behind them, sending out a shockwave that caused the boys to go flying. Then it sent out a bolt of lightning from in between his horns, zapping the boys and making them scream. When it was done, they looked at Jiro. Jiro realized they were looking at him like he was some sort of monster. The Shadow let out a roar and starting beating the boys. The blood loss started taking its toll on Jiro as darkness passed over him.
Jiro blinked open his eyes and found himself lying in a bed. Bandages were wrapped around his body. He tried sitting up, but pain went through his body and he clutched his chest in agony.
"You're finally awake, huh?" Jiro heard Zola say. She was sitting in a chair at the other end of the room, her arms crossed and her icy blue eyes locked on Jiro.
"What happened?" Jiro asked.
"Your Shadow began to go crazy," Zola replied. "It would have killed those boys if you hadn't passed out when you did. How are you feeling?"
"It hurts so much," Jiro moaned.
"It's to be expected. Releasing your Shadow for the first time puts a large strain on the wielder's body," Zola explained.
"What happened to my Shadow?" Jiro asked.
"It vanished when you passed out," Zola replied. "Your Shadow, Minotaur, couldn't sustain his form when the power stopped flowing to him."
"Will I ever be able to bring him out again?" Jiro asked. Zola nodded.
"You won't be able to summon Minotaur right away, but with training you'll eventually have the power to control him," Zola answered.
"Was it the same for you?" Jiro asked. Zola hesitated before replying.
"I guess you could say that," she said. "Some Shadows are easier to control than others. Controlling Killer Bat wasn't too difficult for me, but seeing as how Minotaur acted is a sign that it'll be hard for you to control him."
"I see. . ." Jiro murmured.
"As soon as you've recovered enough, we'll start your training!" Zola said. "Are you ready?"
"I am," Jiro replied with a determined expression.
For this chapter, the idea for how the gang of boys treated Jiro came from us starting to read Outsiders in honors english in high school. I also wanted to put Jiro in a situation where he could have enough strain put on him to where Minotaur would be summoned for the first time. I also wanted to make a situation where Jiro would start becoming sour towards anyone else he meets.