Rathia observed the Pact messenger as he stood at the entrance of the temporary campsite of the Marines. The strips of filthy red cloth tied on his arms and legs had dried blood caking the cloth.

Rathia gestured to the messenger and asked. "Are you wounded?"

"No, Lord," The messenger replied. "This is a sign of our faith and commitment to the Pact!"

"What is the Pact?" Rathia asked curiously.

"The Pact is a vow we made to stay alive," The messenger replied. "The Messiah told us how to live up and not give up!"

"How did the Messiah come about?" Tyrier asked from the side.

"HE came to us when we were in darkness!" The messenger feverishly replied. "HE taught us how to live in this cursed land of nothingness! HE gave us a purpose!"

"A purpose?" Rathia queried. "What kind of purpose?"

"Its the purpose of all living things!" The messenger explained. "The cycle of life and death!"

"I see..." Rathia glanced at Tyrier. "So what is it your Messiah sent you here?"

"Oh, the Messiah invites you over to join Him for a meal tonight!" The messenger said. "When the sun sets, the banquet will begin! You are all hereby invited!"

"Give my thanks to the Messiah," Rathia replied uneasily. "We thank him for his generosity, but we have to decline his goodwill."

"You reject his invitation?" The messenger's bloodshot eyes glowered. "I will return to inform him of your choice!"

"Thanks again!" Rathia called after the departing back of the messenger.

"What was that all about?" Rathia asked Tyrier who was deep in thought.

"Something bad..." Tyrier sighed. "Either we are the menu for dinner or they have some ritual that they want us to involuntarily be involved..."

"They sound like a cult," Rathia frowned.

"Maybe, but we have no proof other than an Oerkin calling them cannibals..." Tyrier replied. "And I don't really blame them if they turn to cannibalism... They are just people trying to survive in this place without starving to death..."

"Damn... Double the guards on duty and to stay on full alert," Rathia ordered. "All personnel to be armed at all times and no one walks outside the camp alone or without permission!"

"Yes, Sir," Tyrier acknowledged the order. "It's better to be safe than sorry."

"Problem now is how do we get into the city ruins to check if our target is truly dead?" Rathia asked. "Looking at the situation here, everything that could be salvaged would have been dug up by the desperate people here..."

Tyrier nodded. "It's a bloody mess here. Hopefully, the food we gave out could buy us some goodwill the people here."

"I wonder how did things come about to this stage?" Rathia mused. "It's barely a month since we bombed the city..."

"Yea... I was here a month ago," Tyrier shrugged. "The world changes fast..."

"Who do you think we should work with here?" Rathia asked. "I am leaning towards the Oerkin and the Beggar dudes..."

"I am thinking the same too," Tyrier replied. "The merchant guy seemed... too sleazy for me to trust him without him backstabbing and robbing us later..."

"But the other three groups all seemed to be afraid of this Messiah guy..." Tyrier added. "Something is not right here..."

"I think we better call for more supplies to be sent here," Rathia said. "Can't have all these people starve to death without helping them."

Tyrier just nodded silently. "Sir, I think we should invite the Oerkin over for some talk..."

"About what had happened here?" Rathia asked.

"Yea, I know the Oerkins are wandering nomads that could live off the land," Tyrier frowned. "But apparently this band of Oerkins is staying here. Something isn't right."

"That is true..." Rathia nodded. "Alright, send out a fully armed party and invite the Oerkin Chief over for some talk and I want a small scouting party to keep an eye on the Pact..."

"Got it!"


Camp City of the Pact

A half naked skinny boy bit down hard on the piece of frayed leather as one of the Pact's Elders skillfully carved off a piece of flesh off his arm. A bowl collected the dripping blood flowing down the boy's arm.

He bravely fought back the pain and tears while the Elder lifted the tray with his flesh and thanked the Messiah while chanting, "We eat to live, Live to be eaten!"

Putting the tray to one side, the Elder took a roll of bandage and quickly wrapped the wound up and cast a simple healing spell. By the time the spell took effect, the strips of cloth had dyed red with the boy's blood.

The boy gave a relieved sigh as the spell kicked in and he bowed to the Elder who rubbed the blood's boy on his arm over the boney body of the boy. "We eat to live, Live to be eaten!"

"We eat to live, Live to be eaten!"

After the boy, left the tent, another stepped in and sat down on the vacated stool and bite down on the piece of leather as the Elder cleaned his tools and repeated the ritual.

"We eat to live, Live to be eaten!"


The Messiah waved the messenger away with one hand and sat down on the spartanly furnished tent. His smiled vanished when he was left alone in the tent, "Damn, Oerkins!"

He did not expect the Oerkin chief to warn these strangers. He was prepared to share the loot of the strangers with the rest once they were lured into his camp.

"Messiah, it is done!" A voice called from outside the tent.

"Enter and speak," He quickly schooled his expression and watched the Elders entering the tent.

"Messiah," The men and women bowed before him. "We have harvested the flesh of the followers according to your teachings!"

"Our people shall not starve," The Messiah smiled. "The strangers has declined our kind invitations to join us for the feast."

The Elders grumbled in displeasure, "How disrespectful of them! We offer them our precious flesh for them to partake, yet they deny our goodwill?"

"I am sure they did not want to stress our resources," The Messiah replied calmly. "We shall not judge others unreasonably."

"Your words shame us," The Elders bowed deeply with their hands crossing their chest. "Your grace shall not be forgotten!"

"No matter," Messiah said. "We shall flesh and dine on meat tonight! We eat to live, Live to be eaten!" "

"We eat to live, Live to be eaten!"

"We eat to live, Live to be eaten!"

Watching the departing Elders, the Messiah started to make plans for the strangers. He exited his tent and saw his people preparing cook fires and carrying huge cauldrons of soup to place among the center of the camp.

The freshly harvested flesh was marinated with spices and whatever little herbs they managed to grow and forage on the side by the cooks.

Others carried a couple of headless and skinned bodies towards the cook fires and set the over the spit. Before long the mouth watering smell of roasted meat wafted over the camp.

The Messiah smiled and nodded at his people as he watched the ongoings of the preparation of the feast. He felt his tummy growling at the scent of roasted meat and remembered how he once had starved.

The Pact was started when he realized that no one will save them, except for themselves. The Gods were selfish and ignored the sufferings of the mortals.

As a slave, due to his looks and complexion, he suffered under the so called nobles who abused him day and night. He had rejoiced when the Serpent destroyed the city and all that had mistreated him.

He thought his prayers were unanswered but the destruction spread, the Serpent with its unsatiable appetite, feast upon the people till nothing was left.

He hid under the rubble of his former Master's once grand manison in the city, together with dozens of other slaves and servants.

They salvaged whatever food there was but the strange hell fires that could not be put out by rain burnt everything down. In the end, he and countless others went hungry for weeks till he gave up his hope on the Gods.

He watched his closest friend dead in his arms and his friend said something that changed his life totally.

"Eat my flesh, so that you may live!" His only friend said as he died from a stomach full of grass. "Do not waste my flesh!"

With tears in his eyes, he cut off strips of wasted flesh from the body of his still warm friend. He cooked the flesh over a small fire and when the first taste of the meat on his tongue, he felt reborn.

It tasted heavenly to him after weeks of eating weeds and the rare occasional caught mice. The smell of his cooking soon brought others to his campfire and he shared the meat out to the others.

The people were grateful for his meat but later they found out that the meat came from one of their own, some balked at the thought of cannibalism.

Others looked upon him for guidance as he preached about the unfairness of this world and how the weak were prey. Soon a small following of the survivors joined him and he created the Pact, a vow to live on regardless of how.

Flesh from their own bodies was sliced away to feed each other, thus allowing their survival in this cursed land. Parents wanting their children to survive, willingly offered their flesh to him, so that their children have a filled belly.

Over the weeks, his influence grew and so did his notoriety among the survivors that could not accept cannibalism.

Despite the city being burnt down, there were still many useful things to be salvaged out and used. This led to multiple territory fights over the rights of salvage in the city and soon, four factions emerged from the ruins.

One of them was the Pact, whom members feared no death and were physically stronger due to having a constant supply of protein. The once powerful Oerkins had most of their men decimated fighting against the Serpent and their camp was a collection of womenfolk, old, young, and weak.

In the end, the four factions agreed to split the city up with the Pact controlling most of the city's salvage rights.

The Messiah sat down overlooking the circular grounds where hundreds of his people gathered around the cookfires, waiting for his word.

"As all of you have heard and seen," He spoke and a hush settled over the hungry crowd. "We have new friends from afar. We have extended our friendship to them but they denied our offers to join us here tonight!"

The crowd growled in anger at the slight to their Messiah.

"Do not feel angry, my people," The Messiah smiled. The setting sun behind his back made his glow like some kind of God. "We could only help those that are willing to be helped!"

"Now, let the feast begin!" He rosed both hands into the sky and chanted together with hundreds of hungry mouths.

"We eat to live! Live to be eaten!"
"We eat to live! Live to be eaten!"
"We eat to live! Live to be eaten!"


Hitsu, Young, and Wolf dressed in ghillie suits laid prone over a small rise that overlooked to the camp of the Pact.

They remained unmoving and watched the ongoings of the feast and once in a while, the breeze carried over the tantalising scent of roasted meat.

"Damn, I am hungry!" Hitsu mumbled as he observed the BBQ partying going on.

"Seriously?" Young sighed. "You do know what they are cooking down there right?"

"Meat?" Wolf replied curiously. "Smells good!"

"Shit..." Young closed his eyes as he swallowed down the bile threatening to spew out of his mouth. "Look at the center of the gather... see those... two... things getting BBQed?"

"Yea?" Hitsu and Wolf both replied as they tracked their binoculars to the spot Young directed.

"That my friends, is a person skinned, gutted, and quartered over the spit!"

A note from neo Koh

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Enjoy some yummy bbq ~

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neo Koh


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