Chapter XXIV: The Butterfly and the Leech (5/11)Mature

'What have you done?' Will demanded, flicking the drape aside with strength he didn't know he had. Sapphire was standing in the middle of the room, looking unhappily at the splatter of blood across her clothes. She clasped a wet flannel and was attempting to sponge it away.

'Apparently,' she said nonchalantly, not meeting his glare, 'built up quite a dry cleaning bill for myself.' The curl of hair she often brushed from her face had dyed red, and already blood crusted beneath her fingernails. She crossed the room - still not looking at him, was it because she didn't feel the need, or because she felt she couldn't? She rinsed her hands in a china finger-bowl on the table, the water running pink, then focussed her attentions on the steaming tea set beside her. This set was also made from china, the body decorated with pink roses, the rims edged in gold. 'I admit I'm disappointed, I built up higher hopes than I usually do.' She poured the tea, flowing like liquid bronze, and held out a cup and saucer to him.

Will didn't accept it, in fact the sight of it enraged him, he knocked it out of her hand, breaking into white shards on the ground. Sapphire stared at the broken china, sighed, and looked at him with a raised, berated eyebrow, what had looked like smudged eye makeup was also blood. 'It seems you have quite the temper,' she said.

Will had to catch his breath to stop himself lashing out, he felt like the blood in his veins had become boiling water. In a low, vehement voice, he said, 'you killed him.'

She crossed her arms indignantly, 'I did not kill him,' she replied pedantically, 'halflings are not dead...then again, I suppose you could hardly call them alive -,'

'Do you feel nothing?' 

'About what?'

Will's disbelief increased. 'He was a boy, younger than me, and you let him think everything was alright, and then you tortured him, and now he's - he's - I don't even know what he is, whatever a halfling is.'

'Ah,' she said, kicking dirt idly, 'of course.' She exhaled and bit her lip, thinking of what to say. 'Sometimes, in our pursuits for power, we are met with consequences...regrettable consequences.'

'So is that all he is to you? A consequence, something you feel bad about for a while and eventually come to terms with?'

Her expression was soft, but Will couldn't believe anything she seemed to be anymore. 'Will,' she said, 'you have to believe me when I say I wish there was another way. But there is not. It took us tiring months to engineer the creature - a soul leech, some would call it. We wanted to find a way to extract souls, so that when we eventually found the Host, we could extract the sorceress' spirit without damaging the Host. A spell didn't work, no matter which way we phrased it, we were taken too literally, the subjects were torn apart.' Will imagined the horrible sight of innocent victims being brought into a room and blown apart as the leech had been. 'Then, we found inspiration from nature, as all great ideas arise. The freshwater leech, it was perfect. A creature that feeds off of blood, knows when to stop, and secretes an anti-coagulant to preserve the Host. All we needed to do was replace 'blood' with 'souls', and after many mutations and rituals, combining incubi tissue with leeches, we succeeded. At least to some degree...'

The End

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