Chapter XXIV: The Butterfly and the Leech (3/11)Mature

He staggered back into line with the other soldiers, and Sapphire turned towards the far entrance, where a masked man carried a cushion, and atop it was the most monstrous thing Will had ever seen.

He was reminded of a leech, only much larger, its skin rubbery and black. Yet all across its body, serrated fangs jutted out like horns, and it made a noise unlike anything he'd ever heard, almost like the screeching of a bird, but sickening and full of agony. Each of its movements caused it to cry out in hatred of itself, the creature could not have been natural; it was something else. Sapphire took the cushion and carried it past Kaelin, yet purposely from his sight. She stroked it from head to tail and it lurched up, to latch onto her, but Sapphire tutted playfully like chastising her favourite pet.

'You may be too young to understand this, Kaelin,' she said, glancing down at him. He continued to thrash his head back and forth, but a soldier stood behind and clamped his head in place. 'Believe it or not, this is a good thing. For years, we've searched for the power to lead us into a new age, and now we're one step closer.' She bent over him, her painted lips moving slowly. 'I've been told that it feels like ecstasy, a higher pleasure than you've ever known, for your sake, I hope it's true.'

'Please,' begged Kaelin, 'it's not me, I swear, it's not -,'

'If that's true, then I'm so sorry...' she whispered. In a quick movement, the cushion balanced on one hand, Sapphire grabbed the collar of his tunic and tore it in half. The ripping sound echoed loudly, and the sides fell open to his panting chest where each rib was distinctly visible.

'Stop it! Stop it!' Will shouted, but his voice became inaudible beneath the guard's hand. Sapphire glanced in his direction and smiled as she picked up the creature, ensuring its fangs didn't tear her palm, and placed it on Kaelin's stomach. She stood, watching, smiling, as he whimpered in disgust, feeling the creature oozing upwards across his chest, suctioning, curling, stretching across him. The hold around Kaelin's head inhibited him from looking, and he tried to jerk his body to toss the creature off, but it was too strong. Will watched it and realised, with sickness in the pit of his stomach, that the creature was moving towards Kaelin's heart.

As Sapphire leant over him, her blonde curls tickling his eyes, the creature stopped over his heart, making curious clicking noises, and for a blissful moment it seemed like nothing would happen. Sapphire kissed Kaelin's forehead with the twisted delicacy of a mother departing her child, the creature suddenly tensed and Kaelin's mouth opened wide in a silent gasp.

His body bucked up and he began to choke on his own breath, he took a deep inhalation; and screamed. From beneath the creature, blood dripped across Kaelin's chest, running in scarlet lines onto the altar. The scream was like nothing Will had ever heard, it turned his legs to water and caused his throat to run dry. The blood continued to drip, pooling around Kaelin and running down the sides, his skin blanched as his lifeblood left him. In the moments that it continued, it seemed to be forever, and soon his eyes began to glaze, losing their colour and unblinking as he continued to seethe and cry out.

Will felt a helplessness that made him want to be swallowed up in darkness, taken away and detached from everything, but the soldier behind him pushed his chin up, forcing him to watch.

'Remember, little prince. This is all for you,' he whispered. Will knew his captor was smiling.

The End

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