Chapter Twenty-Four

Start from the beginning

The commotion rumbled on, with members of the Brotherhood roaring at each other and letting out bloodcurdling screams of joy. From the middle of the chaos, a familiar figure emerged, slinking over to the powerless Max and Lizzie.

Eight slithered down to Max's height, clutching his forearm and gently pressing his lips to his ear. Max could feel his warm disgusting breath against his skin and the airs on his arm stood on end as Eight began to speak.

"Just so you know, I'm going to eat your pretty little friend here before I let anyone even touch you. You're going to have to watch her scream, watch her burn and you won't be able to do a thing," he spat into Max's ear.

Max's body completely tensed up, his hands curling into fists and his eyes filled with rage.

"Then I'm going to eat her in front of you. The young ones always taste the best," he whispered, clicking his teeth and licking his lips every other word.

"Hey, maybe I'll even let you have a taste," he giggled.

That was the last straw. Max twisted his neck and threw his head forward, slamming his forehead into the bridge of Eight's nose. Eight recoiled, clutching the same spot Lizzie had hit only minutes before. He hit the floor and began writhing around in pain, before crawling back to his feet and taking hold of Max by the collar.

Eight drove his fist into Max's face, again and again, blood spraying from Max's nose in all directions. Defenceless and unable to even raise his hands to block, Max's face became awash with a deep shade of blood. Lizzie screamed out in protest, kicking away at the legs of Eight as best she could with her feet tied.

"Do you know why they call me Eight, little girly?" he growled at her as he pushed her back.

The chanting around the fire had stopped, and Otto and Vince were attempting to pull the furious Eight away from Max's now still body. They got a hold of him, each clutching him under one arm and they dragged him away, but not before he could shout back an answer to Lizzie.

"I'll leave that to your imagination, pretty!"

What had he done? Killed eight people? Been in prison eight times? Eaten eight people? All of these ran through Lizzie's mind before her racing mind was yanked back to reality by a groan from Max. His body began to stir slightly, but his face was covered in blood, cuts, and had started to swell.

"Oh shit! Max! Are you okay? Can you hear me?" Lizzie asked frantically, shuffling over to his side as best she could.

"Maybe the eight times he's actually brushed his fucking teeth," Max mumbled, spitting out a mouthful of blood before chuckling.

Lizzie half laughed and half sobbed. Max was tough, but he had taken a bad beating; not that any of it would matter once the Brotherhood decided to start cooking up some dinner. Lizzie leant against Max; it was the nearest thing to a hug she could give him whilst tied up.

Meanwhile, Eight had been dragged away towards the fire where most of the Brotherhood still gathered. He was still kicking and screaming, lashing out and cursing at the men holding back his arms and legs.

"I told you not to harm our guests, Eight. Otto warned you. Now Otto has to punish you," the Brotherhood leader stated, in his usual repulsive giggle, as if this was all a joke to him.

"You all know how we deal with those who disobey us!" Otto continued, unsheathing a hunting knife from his right hip.

"Any last words, Eight?" Otto asked, approaching the restrained Eight from behind and speaking directly into his ear.

"I-" Eight began, before Otto sharply sliced the serrated knife edge along his throat.

Blood spurted on those holding Eight still, and all was quiet apart from the chilling gurgling as his windpipe filled with fluid. The men released their grasps, letting him fall to a heap on the floor. A pool of blood flowed across the floor, spreading wider and wider around his lifeless body. The silence continued; it was deafening. Every member of the Brotherhood stared at Otto, almost as if waiting for permission to make a noise once again.

Their leader looked around his group of followers and slowly bent down, hunched over Eight's body. To Max it looked like an act of remorse or regret; however, all these ideas were quashed as Otto arched his blade up into the air and plummeted it down through his old companion's skull. He stood back up, brushed himself down and wiped his knife on Vince's jacket.

"Better to be safe," he shrugged.

"Now, who's hungry?" he cried, lifting his arms in the air like a conductor of an orchestra.

On cue, his band of thugs cheered and wailed once more, and attention was again on Max and Lizzie. Otto bent over the large cooking pot and retrieved a black material case. He unrolled the case on the floor in front of him and hovered his hand over the objects, unable to choose one.

His face resembled a child in a toy shop, not quite able to choose between his favourites. After a minute of pondering, he withdrew a silver, metal cleaver. The light bounced off it menacingly, but what was most terrifying was the smile materialising on Otto's face.

"Bring me Max, before he bruises," Otto snickered, ushering Vince and Quinn over to the fountain.

Vince pulled a knife from his waistband and cut the rope holding Max's ankles together. He and Quinn then took hold of Max and marched him over to the fire, before shoving him at Otto's feet.

"Don't you dare, you sick bastards!" Lizzie screamed, tears streaming down her face. "I'm going to fucking end you!" she continued to yell.

"Don't worry child, you'll get your turn. We are so very hungry," Otto smiled back at her. "Go and gag her," he muttered to a nearby woman, who happily obliged.

Otto pinned Max's head to the floor under his boot, carefully flipping the cleaver up in the air, twirling it and catching it over and over again.

"Where to start, where to start..." he pondered aloud.

The crowd around the fire had edged ever closer, and the sound of clicking teeth was more prominent than ever. It was as if they could already taste his flesh on their tongues.

"Shall I start with a leg, an arm, or just put you out your misery?" Otto continued to think.

"Eat shit," Max responded, gritting his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut, waiting for the pain to come.

"Such a foul mouth; maybe I should start with your tongue. Flip him over!" Otto screeched.

Vince and Quinn turned Max on his front, and Otto knelt down on his chest, pinning him to the floor. Max was struggling to breathe as Otto tilted his head back and yanked the tongue from his mouth. He threw down the cleaver, snatching up instead a smaller but sharper blade. He ran the cold, hard, steel against Max's tongue, back and forth, back and forth.

"Time to begin," he winked.

Otto positioned the blade on the right side of Max's tongue, easing pressure into the flesh. Just as he was about to make his slow and sadistic incision, footsteps echoed through the room and a man Max hadn't seen before whispered urgently into Otto's ear. Otto looked visibly annoyed, gutted even, his eyes glistened with a sense of temptation, but eventually his grip loosened and he eased himself off Max's body.

"It seems it's your lucky day," he spat.

"Sounds like you two are wanted down in the pit...if you can call that lucky," he smirked, before taking one hard vengeful kick to Max's stomach.

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