XX – Burning
All units be advised, fire in the hole, over!
A series of massive explosions tore into the stone debris that had filled the tunnel, sending enormous chunks of bedrock tumbling away. As dense smoke floated into the air, the remaining allied forces waited.
Commander Trouble Kelp frowned with frustration as he watched the smoke clear. They had been blasting away at the debris ever since Opal had bombarded the tunnel. Trouble had the utmost confidence in Holly and the others, but he would not stand by and do nothing as they took Opal on alone.
“Foaly, what’s our status?” The elf said, impatience evident in his voice.
The centaur’ voice crackled to life. “The last set of charges took us to sixty-two percent excavation. I’d estimate at least ten more minutes of continuous demolition before a traversable path can be cleared.”
Kelp’s frown deepened. “What of Holly, have you heard anything from them?”
“Not a single transmission.” Foaly said worriedly. “I lost their signals not long after they pursued Opal’s ship, though I attribute that to the extreme levels of electromagnetic influence.”
“I hope you’re right.” Trouble said, his face lined with worry. He couldn’t imagine what they would do if they had been killed.
Another explosion rocked the fallen stone monoliths, causing several gigantic sections to slide away. As Trouble observed the blasting operations, another distant rumble began to rise. He looked ahead. It was obvious where it was coming from.
“Foaly!” Trouble called into his communicator. “Give me a scan on those tremors.”
There was a brief silence.
“By the gods!” Foaly exclaimed, his voice betraying a sense of absolute terror. “It looks like-“
The centaur was cut off as the tremors escalated into a deafening roar of groaning stone, along with them coming an invisible force that distorted the communication link to Haven. Trouble gripped his controls, gritting his teeth as he anticipated the entire tunnel’s collapse. To his surprise, it held up, and the debris was reduced by half.
“D’arvit!” He swore as the colossal noise assaulted his ears. “What the hell is that?!”
Even though he was not even in contact with the ground, he felt the vibrations shaking him to the core. As they ripped through the tunnel, more of the debris fell away, and as it did a series of charges detonated from the vibrations, blasting a hole the size of a football field in the precarious mountains of collapsed stone. Dust and smoke blew relentlessly as hot air from the cavern ahead charged through, obscuring the view.
As Trouble looked into the gloom, Commander Ivankov’s voice came in through his channel. “I don’t know what exactly is causing this.” He yelled apprehensively. “But it must be related to the Gate. Nothing else could cause a quake of such magnitude so suddenly!”
If it was the Gate causing such a tremor, then it meant that Opal was enacting the final stage of her plan. Trouble’s face drained of color. Gods help us all.
Artemis was aware as he floated amidst the sea of blackness, though he failed to understand what was happening. After he had died, he had blanked out entirely, leaving no clue as to how he got where he was. In fact, his mind had not yet remembered Koboi or any of the preceding events that had led to his demise, leaving him entirely lost. He could sense everything around him, though there wasn’t much to sense. There was nothing but opaque darkness, not a single sound breaking the frigid silence. If he was dead, then what was this? Was this the afterlife? Voices in the back of his mind nagged that it was, but his own self denied that this was the case. The boy became aware that he had a physical form, at least from what he could tell. Was it that of a ghost, or was his body cast into another world entirely? He didn’t know, and in the ruthless dark, he could hardly make out anything from which to make a deduction.
Where am I?
He looked into the distance, though the gloom left him with no depth perception or any discernible measure of substance.
Is this death?
An unknown distance away, a small pinprick of light flashed, then was gone.
“I’m afraid not, human,” A disembodied voice stated flatly. It sounded old and wise, though it held a level of character that Artemis wouldn’t attribute to that of a spirit.
Artemis darted his eyes about, unable to pinpoint the direction of the enunciation.
“Who are you?” He asked curiously, though fear marred his voice. He had just died, so his discomfort was rather understandable.
“Great, Alwin, you got the ape’s attention.” Another male voice stated sarcastically. This one was higher pitched, though still ancient and filled with mysteries.
“I think it a good thing, Cadeyrn,” A third voice replied, this one female. “After all, he is the first company we’ve had in what, one million years?”
“I concur.” An additional male voice added, this one deep and calculative.
“Besides,” The first voice spoke again. “This human is seemingly the only one who can do anything to halt that which has been put into motion.”
There was a long pause. Artemis looked into the darkness, his interest greatly activated, though he refrained from interrupting the conversation.
“Aye, I suppose you’re right…” The second finally uttered, his voice suddenly sad and deflated, the previous irritation gone.
There was a brilliant flash as energy exploded from the void surrounding Artemis. Not a sound was made as the light swirled around him, eventually encircling him completely, leaving not a trace of the blackness that had dominated the expanse moments before. Despite the illumination, Artemis couldn’t see anything but a hazy white mist that seemed to stretch on forever. As he looked about, the previous weightlessness absent, leaving him standing upon thin air.
“I apologize for keeping you in the dark, human,” The first voice voice stated professionally, “It must be rather uncomfortable being caught between life and death.”
Artemis could make out the direction of the intonation, and turned his head to see if he could make out the speaker. At first all he saw was the endless mist, but after a moment he saw the ubiquitous light pooling into recognizable forms, four to be exact. Fowl watched as the mists subsided, fully revealing the forms of the beings. Each had the unmistakable features of a warlock, and wore faded robes of great complexity that gave the impression of something that had once been beautiful but now robbed of its very soul. Apart from their general appearance, Artemis instantly noticed that they were continuously fading in and out of transparency, like ghosts. As they became fully visible, the foremost warlock looked to Artemis, his ghostly eyes piercing and intelligent. His face looked older than time itself, though his figure seemed strong and devoid of the ravages of age. Through the lines of age was a chiseled visage, its features powerful and commanding, yet there was a level of softness to it as well, like a stern but fair mentor. Though his head was bald, pure white hair flowed from his face, forming a straight, long beard.
“What is your name, human?” He asked smoothly, his voice neither judgmental or imposing.
Artemis absentmindedly moved to brush off his suit (which he, despite being dead, still wore), when he noticed that he too was not entirely present. Just like the others, he too was like a specter. The discovery only slightly fazed Artemis who, being the young prodigy that he was, focused on making a good first impression on the warlocks before him.
“I am Artemis Fowl the Second,” He said respectfully, “And you are?”
The warlock nodded to him. “I am Alwin Marcellinus, leader of the ancient order of Vaelthüme.” He motioned to the other warlocks around him. “These are my colleagues, Cadeyrn, Myrgjöl, and Theron.”
The three beings nodded towards Artemis, though none of them spoke. Each of them were equally as old, though they were much different in appearance. Cadeyrn had a thin face, a long nose, and appraising green eyes, the sort that brimmed with cunning. His hair was cut short, and he had not even a hint of a beard, leaving his wrinkled face completely visible. He wore a similar cloak as Alwin, though his was much less elaborate, making it clear that he, along with the other two, were the leader’s subordinates.
Myrgjöl was immediately recognizable as a female: her long, fair locks of radiant hair falling to her waist. She had striking blue eyes and a wizened visage with delicate features, and Artemis could instantly tell that she had once been immeasurably beautiful.
The third, Theron, was the most imposing. Though he was still much shorter than Artemis, the old warlock had the look of a hard as nails hunter, his face lined by not only wrinkles, but numerous scars as well. His dark eyes were filled with boldness and calculation, though along with greater measures of discipline and spirit.
Artemis didn’t know who these warlocks were, or what was going on at all for that matter. His mind was still fuzzy, and for the moment all he could feel was immense curiosity in the beings before him.
Alwin’s gaze never left the boy, and for a brief moment of silence he observed him as though he were sifting through the contents of his soul. After the short pause, his eyes became deathly serious.
“You look rather curious, Fowl,” He said. “But I’m afraid that such will not be sated at this moment. You’re presence here is a blessing, though a mere fluke as well. It would seem as though your soul was caught up within the workings of the Gate’s magic, and thus channeled into our realm.” He paused, his face growing solemn. “The Gate is opening, and thus ushering the world’s destruction.”
“The Gate?” Artemis asked dumbly, his memory still groggy and sluggish. What was that? There was a moment of silence as the boy thought, the fog in his mind clearing suddenly, making everything that had happened vivid once more. It hit him like a falling star.
“Opal!” He said hurriedly as the images flashed through his head. He saw the events once more, everything leading up to his death, clear as crystal. It terrified him. “She’s claiming its power. She killed me, and my friends are…” He fell to his knees, suddenly weak, his body shaking from the shock that came with the sudden revelation. “I failed.” he breathed, his voice filled with anguish. “Opal will win because of me.” After a few seconds of despair, Artemis remembered the warlocks standing before him. “Can’t you do something?” He asked them desperately. “Surely that’s why you’re here, you have something to do with this whole thing, don’t you?”
The warlocks seemed to grow weak against the boy’s question, their faces each becoming filled with sadness and regret.
“Yes,” Alwin finally answered. “We are very much connected to this ancient power…” The old warlock frowned deeply, leaving the utterance unfinished.
Myrgjöl lifted her downcast head, shame in her eyes. “Indeed, we created it, after all.”
“Wha-what?” Artemis stuttered, completely shocked by what he heard. “You created the Gate?!”
“No boy, we didn’t create it.” Theron said roughly as he looked to Alwin, giving the impression that the scarred warlock didn’t very much enjoy explaining things.
Alwin nodded. “We discovered it…and manipulated it.”
“Why!” Artemis said dangerously, suddenly angry. He had never though he’d meet the ones responsible for such horrid magical powers, and now that they were before him, it was easy to pin the blame for Opal’s action upon them.
The elder warlock’s frown deepened.
“I assume that you’ve been put through much pain due to our creations and the fool who seeks to use them.” He answered, sadness in his voice. “The least I we could do is give an explanation.”
“How can you sufficiently justify such evil!?” Artemis stated, his eyes flaring.
“We can’t.” Cadeyrn admitted. “Just hear us out.”
Artemis fumed for a moment longer before forcing himself to calm down. Even though they were the ones responsible, if he could learn what they knew, he could possibly use it to his advantage. Judging by everything so far, he was certain that he was not entirely dead. Even the smallest glimmer of hope, the slightest of chances that he could do something to stop Opal, was enough to ignite an unstoppable fire. Letting out a deep breath, he calmed himself, assuming his signature look of impassivity.
Alwin studied the human curiously, either surprised by his sudden change in demeanor or intrigued by what was the first human he’d ever seen in person. Whichever it was, his quizzical expression was quickly replaced by a morbid one.
“Very well,” He said, “though for obvious reasons I will keep this brief.”
He paused, taking a deep breath.
“Our era was one of the darkest for fairy kind, marked by seemingly endless conflict. The various races and their numerous factions were bitterly divided, and were cast in a perpetual state of war and strife. Countless lives were lost over petty differences and intolerance, and even amongst their own tribes, there was division. Such entropy covered the earth, lasting for many centuries in one war after another, each one worse than the next.”
Alwin motioned to his colleagues.
“At the time, we were amongst an order of mages that sought to put an end to such chaos. We all knew that if it continued, it would consume us all. So, acting as a neutral party we sought to mediate between the waring factions, hoping to use diplomacy and reason to break the vicious cycle.” He paused, sighing sadly. “Of course, such approaches failed, our words met by deaf ears. Even if one faction agreed with us, its opponents would not. In the end, our efforts were useless.”
“Which left us little choice.” Theron rumbled, his thick arms crossed.
“At the time it appeared that way.” Alwin nodded. “Though most of the order were pacifists, a select few of us decided that the only way to end the madness was to enforce peace through power alone. Now, the others didn’t agree with us, and so we were forced to leave the order in disgrace to pursue our corrupted studies on our own. And thus, the order of Vaelthüme was born, marking the beginning of our descent into madness.”
Artemis listened intently, his mind absorbing the information and all of its connotations like a sponge. He didn’t bother interjecting; he had nothing to say.
“Once we formed our new order, we began to study the military applications of advanced magic, which were taboo for elder mages. What we discovered was both terrifying and addictive, the desires that come with power rising as we went deeper into this form of magic.”
“It was very promising at first,” Myrgjöl stated. “We created spells that we never thought possible, ones that instilled immense fear in anyone who challenged us. But, ordinary magic could only go so far in its destructive uses. What we needed was a form of magic that was designed for nothing but destruction.”
Artemis’ eyes narrowed. “Dark magic.”
“Indeed.” Alwin answered. “If we were to truly dominate every single faction within the world in such a way that made them hopeless to resist, we would need such magic. The study of dark magic was, of course, shrouded in mystery. All warlocks knew of it, but few knew anything more than its name, its workings more myth than reality. Of course, given the nature of it, it was little surprise to us that no one pursued it. Dark magic is the product of corrupt emotions and the very essence of evil, its power flowing from the inherent flaws of this world and the depths of those beyond. Even we do not fully grasp the source of this magic, but at the time we didn’t care, not even for its effects.” There was a pause as the elder warlock grimaced, as though he were remembering a horrid thing, which he probably was.
“As is obvious,” He continued, “We gave into this temptation, and drank from the poisoned chalice that this corrupt magic offered us. It was our greatest mistake, though we didn’t know it at the time. From the moment we began using this magic, we lost ourselves, any traces of our rational selves becoming lost in the madness that the darkness brought.” He shuddered. “So we worked in a possessed fashion, delving headfirst into the this hidden world, heedless of the consequences. It wasn’t long until we had created dozens of immoral spells, each with the power to destroy entire nations with but a whim. One could say that we had found what we were looking for, but by that time we were incapable of being satisfied. We desired power beyond measure, and up to this point, we could still count it without issue.”
“Which brings us to the Gate.” Alwin stated, enunciating the last word with a particular level of disgust. “When we discovered it, we had no inkling as to its purpose. We could, however, feel the immense power flowing from it. We saw a limitless potential, and in no time sought to exploit it.”
“Damn fools we were.” Cadeyrn growled.
Alwin nodded his agreement as he continued. “With our current power over dark magic, we fabricated various means of exploitation, ways to access the power that the Gate offered.” The warlock paused, looking to an unseen place. “The manuscripts that your enemy is using is but one of the weapons we created, just one of the numerous keys to the Gate, the last remaining one to be exact.”
The elder warlock refocused he attention upon Artemis. “When we found the Gate and began to produce the spells in order to use it, we also made a lot of magical noise, more than enough for most magical beings to sense. This created a shock throughout every fairy society and, in only a matter of days, ceased the worldwide conflicts.” Alwin smiled slightly. “It’s ironic really. Even though it was no longer our intention, we had brought peace, peace through showing every fairy alive that the fate of the world was in the hands of several insane warlocks drunk with power.”
Artemis nodded. “And so they rallied together against a common enemy.”
“Yes.” Alwin said. “It had a rough start, but when we began obliterating nations at random, they all came together under one banner, along with them all of the warlocks whom we had previously worked with. It was the four of us against the entire world, though such didn’t mean we were outmatched. We were on the verge of utilizing the Gate’s power, which would make us invincible. Therefore, in one bold move, the united armies of fairy kind struck, striking at us with everything they could muster. But even then, it was a bloodbath, bodies littering the earth for miles.” Alwin grimaced at the memory. “In the end, it was the warlocks who defeated us. Numbering at ten-thousand strong, they hit us with more magic than even we could handle, and after a week of continuous battle, they killed us.”
“Course, we didn’t die exactly.” Cadeyrn added.
Alwin frowned. “Not at all. You see, after using our dark magic to manipulate the Gate, we became linked to it. The Gate itself and the spells surrounding it required an investment, that being our very souls. When we died, we found ourselves trapped by it, leaving us to rot for all eternity within its clutches. It was a punishment that we very well deserved.” Alwin motioned to Artemis. “Which brings us to now, a million years later.”
Artemis contemplated what he had been told. It made sense, and most of it coincided with Quan’s recount of the history behind Opal’s artifacts. However, if there was one thing that puzzled him, it was the rather antithetical character of the warlocks before him.
“If you were so corrupted by this power, then what’s with the change of heart?” The boy asked.
Myrgjöl was the one to answer. “The influence of the dark magic that had consumed us ended the moment we died, leaving us rather shocked. It was like waking up after a nightmare, yet we awoke into a whole new one.”
Alwin nodded. “Only in death did we finally see clearly, and by that time it was far too late.” He looked around. “And if that isn’t enough, I believe that over a million years confined to this place will suffice. Trust me, we’ve had more than enough time to mull over our wrongdoings.”
“That may be,” Artemis stated coldly. “But that does not change what you’ve done.”
“Of course it doesn’t,” The ancient warlock admitted bluntly. A deep rumble sounded from afar, bringing a grave look to his face. “But one can argue about blame later. Right now there are more pressing matters.”
Opal. Artemis thought immediately, his fists balling once more at the mere mention of the pixie. Alwin noticed his anger and, with a silent sigh, gave him a knowing look.
“You still wish to fight her, don’t you?” He asked smoothly.
Artemis didn’t doubt it. “Of course I do! No one else can stop her down there!” He looked off into the void, envisioning the chamber that held Opal’s victory. “Even if there is the slightest of chances, I will not give up.”
Alwin smiled. “Even death hasn’t ceased the flame that burns within you.”
Artemis looked down to his semi translucent hands. “If I’m not mistaken, I am not entirely dead nor living either, but rather stuck between the two.” He looked up to the warlocks once more, a determined fire in his eyes. “Do your powers have any influence here? Can I somehow get back?”
The warlocks looked to each other, each showing the telltale signs of being impressed. Artemis’ resolve was rubbing off on them.
Alwin stepped closer to Artemis, a mixed expression on his face. “I’m afraid that our powers are not what they used to be. The Gate holds most of it, and what we have left cannot inflict any meaningful damage upon its processes, at least not directly.”
“But there is something!” Artemis urged.
“Yes,” The warlock nodded. “Though even then, our efforts will have no effect unless someone is there to seize them.”
Artemis knelt down, grabbing hold of Alwin’s robes and pulling him closer, his regard for formality gone in the wind.
“I will seize it!” He said desperately. “Surely there must be a way!”
There was an intense silence. Alwin regarded the boy with a worrying expression. Behind him, the other warlocks shuffled with unease, their faces betraying a sense of dread. After what felt like an eternity, Alwin let out a sigh, brushing Artemis’ hands from his collar as he did so.
“There is a way…” He began.
Artemis’ heart leaped.
“But it is by all accounts impossible.”
“By what accounts?!” Artemis countered, unwilling to take such an answer. “Even if there is a one in a centillion chance of success, I will take those odds!”
Alwin’s visage didn’t change. “You don’t even know what the way is yet.”
“Then start enunciating.” Artemis demanded.
The warlock intensely regarded the boy for a moment before replying. “Very well.” He made a slight motion with his hand.
The air beneath them exploded with chaos, the endless white suddenly torn to shreds by a million shades of black and red. Everything became a sea of writhing madness, as though hell itself was waiting below, just out of reach. Along with it came a dreadful noise, one of a billion cries and a trillion growls, of death and malevolence, of hopeless agony. The unearthly cacophony assaulted Artemis’ ears like a shock wave, making him cover them instinctively. As he looked underneath himself, his eyes widened. As far as the endless expanse went was a twisted sea of bloody tendrils and deformed monsters. The beings moaned and roared unnaturally, their hollow skulls looking upward as they clawed at the death filled air with long, boney fingers. To anyone, it would appear as though the bowels of Hades had been split open, spilling a sea of darkness into the void below. It was beyond terrifying.
“What is this?!” Artemis exclaimed as he stood over the scene, stepping back as the living dead clawed against the invisible floor separating them from the boy.
Despite the horrid sight, Alwin and the other warlocks seemed unfazed, as though they saw it every day; this was probably true.
“It is the way.” Alwin stated, his voice level but his visage betraying unease.
Artemis gaped. He had never predicted this. “What is all this though?”
The old warlock frowned. “It is the essence of the Gate, the embodiment of its energy.” He looked below himself as one of the dead clawed at him pointlessly. “These wretched things are the metaphysical representation of its power, the center of that which fuels it, pure evil.”
Artemis looked into the hell below him. So this is what stands between me and Opal.
Alwin continued his explanation. “As I stated earlier, your soul has not passed, but is caught within the metaphysical pull of our own trappings. However, that does not mean you are stuck to it as we are. Unlike myself or my colleagues, you can leave.”
“Into that…” Artemis said softly as he looked into the evils that waited for him.
Alwin nodded. “Though I wish it were otherwise, that is the only path back to your realm. You virtually have to claw your way through the tempest of the Gate’s magic that has engulfed the chamber, only then can you enter your physical form once more.” He paused. “But as I said before, this has never been done, and is near impossible from the way I see it. Even if you were a being like myself, you would have no advantage. Magic is useless in that deluge of evil. The only way to surpass it is by willpower alone.” His face tightened. “And there is an enormous risk.”
Artemis didn’t answer, he simply looked into the fires, his face calm and contemplative as he sat upon the formless floor.
“If you go in there.” Alwin continued. “There is little chance you will make it out. Should you fail to reach the other end, you will be doomed to reside within that storm of dread for all eternity.” He slowly put a hand upon the boy’s shoulder. “Now that you know the cost, are you willing to pay the price?”
The maddening noise swirled around the boy as he watched the death below. He breathed in long, calming breaths, his face controlled, and his eyes an embodiment of determination. He was afraid, so very afraid, but he pushed it aside. There was only one thing that mattered. “As long as I have done everything I can.” Artemis said softly. “I could care less if I am doomed to such a fate.” He looked to Awlin, who was astonished. “I have no intention of failing, but I will accept any risk. I will pay any price if it means saving this world.” He stood up, his face set in stone. “I accept.”
Nobody spoke. The warlocks each examined the boy with looks of amazement, their previous stoicism shattered like thin glass. Alwin smiled widely. “In all my life, I have never seen such conviction.” He then turned to the others, making a gesture with his head. They knew what it meant. The warlocks gathered around the boy, forming a circle. Artemis held firm in his resolve. Before him, Alwin stood in his place, his eyes now glowing slightly with magic. “Artemis Fowl.” He stated. “I will remember that name.” He extended his hand to the boy.
Artemis clasped it firmly, nodding to the elder warlock. “Thank you.”
Alwin smiled anew. “You are truly a remarkable individual, far greater in character than we ever were.” He let go of Artemis’ hand, letting his hands hover in the air as they glowed brightly. “We will do what we can from here. Even if this fails, Artemis, you have my undying respect.” His eyes flashed with magic. “You hold the very world in your hands, an undertaking far greater than any. I wish you the very best of luck.” The four warlocks let out a stream of magic that surrounded the boy, the blue energy cool to the touch. As it swirled around him, Alwin looked Artemis in the eye. “Are you ready?”
Artemis took one more breath, setting his mind on everyone he loved. He though of his parents, his brothers, Butler and Juliet, Holly, and everyone else. As he took the breath, he remembered every wonderful moment he had had with them, every tear he’d cried with them, every victory they’d won together. He thought of these, and as he did so a content smile grew across his face. Even though he was standing over hell itself, he was happy.
There was a moment of silence as the magic blew through the air, its passage silent and comforting. Amidst the blue energy, Alwin spoke one last time. “Then go, Artemis Fowl. Save us all.”
There was a flash of light all around him, followed by a wash of heat. As the screams rose to meet him, Artemis felt himself fall into the sea of the dead.
The chamber shook violently as blood-red magic swirled around it, the glowing spell circles spinning at an impossible speed as the horrid noises of the Gate reverberated throughout the room. Above it all, Opal Koboi smiled, her body floating high in the air amidst the sea of power. Every fiber of her being was gleaming with energy, leaving her shining like a miniature sun.
“Such power!” She yelled passionately.
The magic relentlessly poured from every surface, the manuscripts below the pixie alight with the immense amount of energy.
Opal continued to carry out the complex spell, her mind working at an immeasurable speed as she worked towards her goal. Below her, the forms of her enemies lay unmoving. Nothing was in her way.
“Now it truly begins!” She bellowed horridly, sending a wave of power flashing through the chamber. The spell circles sped up exponentially along with the flowing magic, sending enormous tremors through the earth, shaking the cave at such a level that it was inconceivable that it managed to remain whole.
Opal laughed madly as the tremors intensified, the terrifying sound of her evil bliss amalgamating with the chaos all around her. The world, to all it would seem, was in its death throes.
Haven – Police Plaza
Sirens sounded all over as the building shook, the relentless tremors hammering the city like a wave of bombs. In his ops booth, Foaly held onto his desk, still eying the monitors and making a desperate attempt to do anything to help.
“Come on, there must be something!” He growled through gritted teeth.
As he worked, the power to all systems failed, leaving everyone in the dark. The centaur sat back as his screens went blank, winking out one by one like soldiers being picked off in battle.
“Oh gods.” He said softly, staring into space as the tremors assaulted everything around him. Was this it? Had they failed? He didn’t know, and every fiber of his being wished that they were going to succeed. But in the chaos that now surrounded him, he could not help but doubt. He thought of his love, of the family he’d never have. “Please.” He cried quietly, tears streaming from his face. “Don’t let this be the end.”
Swiss Alps – Sawyer’s Estate
“So then he took out Britva’s chopper an avalanche. A goddamn avalanche!” Jack yelled loudly into his cell phone as he sat in a leather chair, feet up on his desk. “I gotta say Jon, when you told me that it was Fowl that did you in, I could hardly believe it. I mean, that kid, a threat?” He laughed. “I now stand corrected.”
A knock came at his door, followed by Victor.
“Sir, if I could have a moment.” The massive Serbian stated roughly.
Sawyer nodded to the man, still talking on the phone. “Yeah Spiro, could you hold for a moment? Thanks.” He put down the phone. “What is it?”
Victor cleared his throat. “I’ve gotten word that the remainder of the Le Baron syndicate has taken our advice. They’re looking to cease hostilities.”
“Just as we expected.” Jack stated, assuming a more business-like demeanor. “Get them on the line, I’d-”
His speech was cut off by a massive tremor, sending him flying from his chair and onto the floor. Victor grabbed onto the wall, though he also lost his balance. The room’s lights flickered as the ground shook violently, causing for the bookshelves and furniture to fall over, creating an even greater ruckus.
“Christ!” Jack growled as he got to his feet, steadying himself with his desk. “What the hell is that!? We never get quakes like this!”
There was a deep groan as the mansion shook on its foundations, the very earth beneath it making a laboring noise as it was forced about.
Jack, followed by Victor, stumbled to the balcony, throwing the doors open to see what was happening. As he beheld the Swiss mountain range, the color drained from his face.
“Holy shit.” He deadpanned.
Snow and dust filled the distant sky, thrown into the air by the forces that were taking hold. Even the colossal mountains were not impervious to the quake’s power, entire sections of the range moving slowly on precarious angles, some of the mountains even cracking in half. The sound of crumbling stone echoed throughout the valley, creating a terrifying symphony of doom. It was like the end of the world.
Jack Sawyer watched the shifting mountains with an apprehensive expression, reaching into his pocket to retrieve two cigars. With a slight shake to his hand, he fumbled with his lighter, lighting the cigars after a moment of struggle. After handing one to his right hand man, the crime lord stuck the other into his mouth, taking a long drag. After several solid seconds of inhaling the smoke, he visibly calmed.
“Damn.” He stated, exhaling a cloud of smoke. “This is some serious 2012 shit.”
Wales – Fowl Safehouse
“Mother, I’m scared!” Myles and Beckett cried simultaneously as the tremors assaulted the building.
“It’s okay to be scared.” Angeline soothed, holding them close. “I’ll keep you safe, I promise.”
The three of them were hiding underneath the table in the play room. The now completed solar array lay forgotten on the other side of the room, the floor covered with random toys and devices as they rolled around chaotically to the earthquake’s rhythm.
On the far side of the room, the door burst open, revealing Artemis Fowl Senior flanked by several armed guards.
“Is everyone alright?” He called out, rushing to the table under which his family was hiding.
“We’re fine dear.” Angeline called back, coming out from under the table to embrace her husband, followed closely by Myles and Beckett, who grabbed onto their legs. The embrace only lasted a second as the tremors intensified, causing for everyone to stumble precariously.
“We have to go!” Fowl Senior yelled above the noise. “It’s not safe here!”
“I know!” Angeline stated as she, along with everyone else, rushed to the doors. It was not at all too soon, as just as they exited the room, the entire floor above caved in, leaving the play room smothered in dust and debris.
They quickly ran down the halls, emerging into the nearly pitch black outdoors. What was peculiar about this was the fact that it was day. As they stepped outside, they looked up, beholding a thing of nightmares. The sky above, which had been clear and blue only minutes before, was now a sea of black clouds. Thunder cracked as crimson bolts flashed through the air, their passage lighting up the roiling storm clouds with a blood red glow.
“Dear Lord!” Fowl Senior exclaimed as the red skies bubbled like a boiled sea.
Angline watched with equal dismay. She had no doubt that what was occurring had something to do with Artemis’ foe, which brought even greater fear to her mind.
Holly gritted her teeth against the pain, the glowing spear lodged in her chest impervious to her attempts to free herself.
Who am I kidding? She thought sadly. There’s nothing I can do to stop this now.
Opal’s insane laughter taunted her endlessly as the chamber swirled with magic, the winds howling along with the groaning earth. By now Opal’s spell was nearly complete, ushering in the literal end of everything. Just thinking of it brought anguish to Holly’s mind, which was compounded further by the lifeless form of Artemis lying to her right, the pool of blood around him already drying out.
I’m sorry, Artemis. She thought again in anguish, her eyes weeping despite being empty of tears.
Koboi’s laughter resounded even louder as the spells multiplied, making her voice sound like a thousand roars in one. Wincing with pain, Holly sagged back down onto the magical spear, her strength long since retired. All she could do now was watch the gleaming form of Opal within the magical storm above her, watch as her most hated enemy gained the power to destroy worlds. Her eyes began to droop as she felt herself grow cold. She was losing a lot of blood.
Holly lied there powerless, her vision becoming less and less as the minutes passed. In her growing weakness, she failed to notice as the pieces of shattered iron slowly dragged themselves across the floor, towards the cold body of Artemis. If one looked closely, they would notice that there was no longer a pool of blood beneath him.