Holly is dead. Artemis’ brain, usually faster than anyone else’s, could not seem to comprehend it; could not process that simple thought.
Holly was killed. My best friend is gone.
Artemis couldn’t bring himself to believe it. The two of them had been through so much to do this; it couldn’t end like this. They deserved better. Holly deserved better. Out of the corner of his eye, Artemis saw once again the flash of Abbot’s blade. He heard the sound of Qwan falling to the ground and the magic in his brain noted No1 being extinguished. Artemis knew this was no time to fall apart and merely stored the information for later. Right now he needed a plan, something ingenious, something that would return his friends to him and help return him to his family.
A chunk of Hybras right next to Artemis detached itself and went whistling by barely an inch from his head, but the boy was beyond caring. If his friends would die here, then so would he, and not just as a tribute. Without them to control the magic, Artemis had no hope of returning to the world he had known. Right now, his sole mission was to get to Holly.
He stumbled quite a few times as he walked through the jagged crater, but did not slacken his pace. He couldn’t. He knew Holly could not be fixed by magic; Abbot had said as much himself. Nevertheless, Artemis had a feeling that if he got to Holly, everything would be okay. His brain, now being controlled by emotions rather than cool logic, was deceiving him, he knew. But there was nothing else to do, no more logical path to take. Having the bomb in position no longer mattered with no one left to harness its power. Had he the slightest idea of how to do it, Artemis would have tried to return Hybras on his own. However, he knew any efforts of his would be futile. He had never been trained in magic, and would only succeed in getting blown up a nanosecond earlier than the rest of Hybras. Artemis’ brain was throwing up these facts to avoid thinking about Holly’s sudden death. He mourned Qwan and No1 as well, but not nearly as much. They had been mere acquaintances, Holly a best friend.
A sound like that of a mountain collapsing reached Artemis’ ears, and a flash of blue light temporarily blinded him. When he could see again, Artemis saw only a Holly-shaped hole in place of his faithful friend. And he knew there was no hope. Holly was forever gone, Qwan and No1 lay dead on the slope, and he was never going home.
As realization sunk in, Artemis sank to his knees and sobbed. Why? he thought, Why did Abbot have to win? He was sure that if he had more time, he could come up with a plan. He was equally sure that he didn’t have enough time left, if that was even the right word for it in this place. Even if he ran away, he would get nowhere. He had no idea what would happen if he simply tried to leave the island and had no wish to find out. Being farther away from the volcano would mean that the time spell was stronger, but that would only give him more time to sit and worry. And if the time spell didn’t take him, the bomb would.
He suddenly felt sad that he had looked at Holly that one last time. The emotions in her eyes—anger, sadness, longing? —now weighed heavily on his conscience as if it was his job to avenge them. But how? He noted another blue flash and looked over to the ground where No1 and Qwan had lain. They were still there. That meant that Abbot was now gone as well, hopefully taken to a place of eternal punishment. Artemis was the only living one around.
The time spell was now disintegrating faster, larger chunks of Hybras disappearing with a much greater frequency. Qwan and No1 were there one second and gone the next, hopefully cremated with Holly in what was surely a hero’s death. Time was no longer a concept, and Artemis felt as if he was floating in a state of non-being. It was almost like a state of ultimate Zen, but Artemis could not seem to relax right now. A tingling feeling spread up through his feet, like he was dematerializing. My time has come, thought Artemis. This is the end. He felt the tingling grow stronger, saw the red sky and gray earth of Hybras whirling around him, smelled the distinct scent of burning sulphur in the air, and then as if he was seeing himself from a third person standpoint, winked out of view. Artemis Fowl II was no more.