Butler followed Artemis from the study to the sitting room. He flopped down in a chair opposite the boy and looked at him. “Now explain yourself,” he demanded.
The boy nodded, sitting forward in the chair. “Holly has informed me that the People are starting what basically amounts to a rebellion. They are tired of living underground and are devising a plan to take back the surface. From my understanding, they want to wipe out mankind so that they don’t have to worry about being driven back underground again. I won’t try to explain all the details to you, but unless Holly has repeated it to me wrong, their plan is very elite and, if carried out correctly, has a good probability of succeeding.”
“I still don’t see where Holly fits into this,” Butler said, crossing his arms.
“The last time we were together, we saved the People from the goblin revolution,” Artemis reminded him. “They owe us. Her especially. If-”
“You think you can use her against them,” Butler blurted, suddenly catching on. “Use her to get them to go back underground and stay there. Convince them to stop the rebellion.”
Artemis nodded. “Exactly. Though what I have in mind isn’t exactly just convincing them. Unfortunately, Holly had the bad luck of being thrown into the middle of this. And if it comes down to her or my family, I can’t be the one making empty threats.”
Butler’s eyes widened slightly. “Artemis, you can’t actually hurt her. After everything she’s done for you? That’s just wrong. I can’t condone to that.”
“Then don’t,” Artemis said evenly. “Leave. I’m sorry, but it has to be done. I don’t want to hurt her, Butler, but I’m not seeing any other choice. I’ll do what has to be done, and nothing you can say or do will change my mind.” He stood up. “Are you with me or against me?”
“I have to say, I am strongly against you on this, Artemis,” Butler admitted. “I suppose I can’t stop you, but I will tell you right now I want no part in this. You do as you like, but I won’t harm her. She doesn’t deserve it. I won’t leave, but I won’t help you on this, either.”
Artemis nodded. “I understand, old friend. But I just want you to understand something. If the fairies have their way, no humans will be spared. That includes you and Juliet.” Butler’s jaw tightened at the mention of his sister, but he said nothing. Artemis sighed and stood up. “I suppose I should go check on her. She’ll be waking up soon.” He stood and exited the room. Butler followed him out, but didn’t follow him into the study where the elf was. He meant what he said. Artemis would be alone in his task for once, without his loyal bodyguard by his side.