She made a gesture that was barely noticeable, the guards dropped Kaelin quickly, he thumped to the ground, his thin bones rattling. His weak arms could barely hold support him, and his back arched to reveal each notch in his spine through the measly linen. Tears dripped down his face, Will thought that he was whimpering indiscernibly, but when he listened closely, he realised Kaelin was saying 'please' over and over, his body jerking with each panting breath.
Sapphire slid across the floor, 'ssshh,' she hissed, 'it's alright. Everything's alright. You're safe now.' She cupped his face in her hands, and with her thumbs she smudged his tears away, brushing his pasty hair from his forehead. Kaelin's jaw trembled, and to everybody's surprise, he launched forward and wrapped his arms around her. She looked stunned for a moment, but her face softened and she held him lightly.
Will was confused, it was impossible for him to tell who Sapphire truly was. He'd seen a side of her which was manipulative and sly, yet what he saw before him, and the way she'd spoken to him - he could have sworn she cared.
Her chin resting in the crook of Kaelin's shoulder, Sapphire murmured like a low vibration in such a way that Will felt his skin turn to ice. 'Prepare the experiment.' Kaelin tensed like stone, and he pulled back from her, wide-eyed in disbelief and terror, but any semblance of love and care was washed away, replaced with a devious smile. The two guards reaffirmed their hold on him and dragged him across the ground, their fingers digging beneath his collar bone. Sapphire stood and brushed dirt away from her, the dust from Kaelin's clothes floated off of her in clouds.
'No!' Kaelin shrieked, thrashing his emaciated body as he was hauled like deadweight onto the altar. Will raced forward, shouting protests, but somebody moved behind him and pinned him to them. They bent their head, stringy, greasy hair brushing his cheek and sour breath curdling in his ear.
'You were much less trouble when you were broken,' they said, Will recognised them as the soldier who had snapped his leg.
Meanwhile, the Mastery soldiers were easy able to hold Kaelin down, one guard per limb strapping and fastening iron fetters around him, then pulling the chains down to hooks bolted into the floor. Kaelin was stretched out in a star shape, unable to move as the links were threaded through the hooks and held fast.
'Sapphire! Stop this!' Will shouted before the soldier's hand - hard and scarred - pressed against his mouth, hissing for him to be quiet. But a soldier didn't seem to agree with her either, he broke ranks and approached her, his broad shoulders tense and doubtful.
'Sapphire, you shouldn't do this,' he said, his voice deep, 'think about this, all the other experiments have been a failure.'
Her head snapped serpentinely towards him, 'if I do not deliver what I have promised, I will lose everything.' Worry shone in her eyes, but she hid it like a weakness. 'The experiments have only failed because we haven't found the Host, once we find them -,'
'Don't do this -,' he reached affectionately for her hand, but her reactions were fast and she struck him. The force didn't cause much damage, but she had raked her nails across his skin, leaving welling cuts across his cheek. He staggered back, the other soldiers snickered with a lack of surprise.
'I would have you remember your place, cur,' she spat, checking that none of her nails were cracked. 'You do not have the authority to tell me what to do.' She took a dangerous step closer, 'and you certainly do not have the right to touch me.'