The Devil’s Whisper
Though Charles felt relieved to have discovered Kristoff’s lair, he could see that the savage was surrounded by his men. Nevertheless, Charles surged ahead, his heart racing in tempo with his legs as he moved closer to his objective.
As Charles drew near, a commotion broke out on the balcony. The group of men were drinking, dancing, and fighting as if the balcony were a mosh pit. One reveler grabbed another, while a third man struck the unfortunate chap with a pipe. He buckled, and with one swift movement, the two men flung their victim from the balcony. His limp body fell twenty floors to the hard pavement below. Charles heard the thump when it hit, and the cheers from a group of men who had been waiting for it on the street.
“The king is offering sacrifices tonight,” one maniac on the balcony cheered, hooting down at the dead man sprawled on the pavement.
Charles quickened his pace, staying close to the edges of the road. He ducked into a nearby building and crouched down in a dark corner, using his hands to gather a pile of dirt. He took a mouthful of the water from his satchel and pushed it around his mouth to alleviate his thirst before releasing a thin, controlled stream onto the dirt pile. After mixing the water and dirt into a dark paste, he covered his pale face until all that remained visible were his green eyes.
As he continued his trek toward the epicenter of the city, Charles heard the faint symphony of suffering. Angry yells of men coming from the east and bloodcurdling screams of women pierced the night to the west. Moments later, he slid past a band of filthy men vying for ownership of a corpse like a pack of wolves.
Another ruckus was followed by another violent assault. Just like the one before him, the beaten man was thrown from the balcony. He screamed the entire way down while the maniacs rejoiced from above. Scavengers sprinted past Charles to the man’s broken body and started ripping him apart.
Kristoff’s acolytes leaned over the balcony railing and waved their arms in the air, chanting, “Kris-toff! Kris-toff! Kris-toff! The king of K-City!”
Charles was fifty yards from the barbed wire courtyard that secured the front entrance to the Apex building. Another scream of fear, followed by another thud, a pitched body, and the scurry of the scavengers. This time, Charles was close enough to hear bones snapping against the pavement. He took cover to avoid the scavengers, and waited while they butchered the latest sacrifice with their homemade weapons.
Charles darted along the side of the building until he spotted four men guarding the back doorway.
“Four offerings so far tonight,” one of the guards warned the other three. “Two more before it’s safe to go back up there.”
“You sound like a woman, Manta,” the smallest guard said.
“Fuck you, Hiro!” He laughed. “You look like a woman. Now give me some pussy, you dwarf!”
“Curse me again and I’ll take your tongue,” Hiro seethed, pulling a short knife from his belt.
The other three guards erupted into laughter. “You call that a knife?” said one. “The only thing that knife is good for is picking your rotting teeth.”