Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Sixty-Five

Theon moved through the streets, his body tingling with anticipation. They didn’t have far to go. Pointing to a fire blazing a block away, he said, “Hurry up. We don’t want to get caught out here.” Shattering glass put a button on his statement and he sneered.

Most of the avenues had gone dark. Smoking homes, businesses gave them a roadmap, ushering them down alleys in an attempt to avoid direct conflict with their brethren. Theon hadn’t even taken the time to try and search for the others in case that little trick would lead them right back to him. At this point, all bets were off. He steered clear of the destruction the best he could. He’d spotted several bands of misfits, all energy and raw anger, claiming the streets as their own.

Sandhyanen wouldn’t last through the night.

They rounded a corner, coming up short of a pack of more than a dozen teenagers, dressed in their evening’s finest, brandishing blunt instruments.

The leader, a pretty man with flowing brown hair, tipped his bowler, smiling. “Such a lovely night,” he said with a grand gesture. He planted his cane on the cobbles, the edge of it kissing Oki’s Veins, and leaned into it. “Does your mistress need some protection?”

The assorted members chuckled in a chorus.

Theon joined in, his laughter coming out high, feverish.

“Come now, what’s so funny?” The gang’s leader had grown sullen, studying the two of them.

“If you want her, you can have the damn creature. She’s caused me nothing but trouble.” Theon gave a grander gesture, his arms sweeping back with a bow as he offered up Oki. His eyes glinted in the distant fires.

Oki looked bored with the display.

“That’s it?” the gang’s leader asked.

Theon’s grin grew wider. “What can I say? I’m an accommodating man. I recognize the hunger these fine men have.” His eyes swept over the ruffians and he bobbed his head, then locked his gaze on the leader. “Though I can see you’re not satisfied.”

Theon’s eyes flashed.

Covering the distance in an instant, he seized the man’s face. His fingertips sunk into the leader’s cheek, disappearing to the first knuckle. The leader screamed but Theon ripped his hand back, extending tendrils of flesh with the movement. With a flourish of his other hand, he covered the leader’s mouth, reshaping the stretched skin in the movement. “Why aren’t you satisfied?” Theon asked, his voice warbling as he tugged at the man’s head, directing it at the water goddess. “Don’t you recognize your god, Oki? Is she not enough for you?”

The leader mumbled something but when Theon pulled back, he revealed a fresh patch of skin covering what once had been the leader’s thin mouth. Gripping his neck with the other hand, he led the dapper brute to Oki. “Now apologize.”

The man struggled to speak but nothing escaped Theon’s handiwork. Behind them, his gang shuffled to get a better look at what was happening. Theon delighted in their confused faces. They weren’t sure what had exactly transpired between them, only that Theon was manhandling their boss. The man let out a muffled shriek.

“I’m sorry?” Theon leaned in, laughed again. “That’s right!” He snapped his fingers, then reached over and tore the patch of skin from around the leader’s mouth. Bits of loose tissue clung to the thin sheet. He shook the blood from it, then offered it to one of the gang to hold. “If you please.”

For some reason, the teen took it, only realizing moments later what he held. The lad tossed it away, stifling a squeal as Theon turned his attention back to the leader, who he still had under control with his hand on the man’s neck. “Try again.”

“Go fuck yourself, you—”

Theon snapped the man’s neck.

The body slumped to the ground, partially covering up the blue light. He kneeled beside the man, rubbing the dead leader’s bloody cheek. “That wasn’t nice.”

A stunned silence fell over the group behind them, then like a flipped switch, they roared in unison.

Oki shouted, “Enough!” Her eyes blazed as her hair flew back. Theon turned to see her eyes trailed past him. He followed her gaze, saw the bunch of them explode into a fine mist.

Blood cascaded to the stone.

A maniacal grin of surprise encompassed Theon’s face so wholly that its eagerness spread through his whole body. He jumped up, slipping and sliding through the destruction. He turned back to Oki, exclaimed, “That was magnificent, Oki. I didn’t know you had it in you. You’re a fucking force of nature!”

Unmoved, Oki said, “Enough.”

Theon stopped, his boots covered in a fine coating of blood, straightened, though he couldn’t keep the grin from his face. “You got to admit, that was damn beautiful.”

Oki conceded nothing.

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.