Chapter XXIV: The Butterfly and the Leech (1/11)Mature


In front of them stood two hooded guards, their monstrous hands hoisting a young boy off of the ground under the arms. He writhed pitifully, but the guards were double his size. His clothes told Will that he was peasantry, a once-white tunic was almost red from cave dust, and of what was visible of his face, he had dark, tired eyes and a freckled face. Underneath his short blonde hair, a cut sourced blood which curled past his nose, across his lip and dripped from his chin.

'What is going on now?' Once Sapphire's presence was known, the guards straightened alertly. 'I was...entertaining royalty.' Though their hoods obscured their eyes, Will knew they were looking at him. He stood behind Sapphire, whether he liked it or not, and whatever her dark intentions, it was clear that she was all that ensured his safety against the soldiers.

'Mistress,' said the first guard nervously, 'we were inspecting the halflings as you requested. We - we thought he was one of 'em, he didn't have no pulse or nothing. He jumped us, tried to make a run for it.'

'So you are no longer able to control a young boy?' asked Sapphire, arching an eyebrow. All eyes were on her as she approached them, crouching down at the boy's level. 'He is one of the chosen, he was living in Solomo at the time of the raid, wasn't he?'

'Correct, Mistress,' said the second guard, his voice deep and grating, 'he was a newborn. They call him Kaelin.'

'Well, it's no wonder,' she said scornfully, 'his cell is next to the alchemist girl, to the Avaric princess.' Will's attention was immediately heightened, Carmen? 'That girl could create a concoction from sewer water and brick dust. I wouldn't put it past her to be able to disguise a heartbeat.'

All eyes were on Sapphire as she approached Kaelin and the guards. She crouched in front of him on her knees. The boy lacked the strength to raise his head, he looked at her through pasty blonde hair with eyes large and shimmering like moonlit water. He reminded Will of a woodland creature, cut down unexpectedly yet not dead, its eyes fixated in terror as the hunter neared with blade in hand to make the final stroke, unable to sound a plea, channelling all desperation into one gaze.

Sapphire took him by the chin, her fingers gentle like handling something precious, yet she forced his head up to see him completely. 'Kaelin...' she said as easily as breathing, 'you don't have to fear me. I won't hurt you.' She spoke so kindly, yet she was observing him intently, staring into his eyes like a secret was hidden in a fleck of his iris. Kaelin stared back at her, terrified, and in awe of her like seeing something divine before his eyes. After a pause, Sapphire said in a voice smooth like running water, 'it could be him.'

The End

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