Okay, people! What I’m about to do is really mean, so yeah… fair warning. Just don’t freak out on me.
Artemis finished his calls and came in a few minutes later, a tray in one hand and a knife in the other, which he quickly stuffed in his pocket.
He set the tray in front of Holly, who looked at him with a confused look on her face. “What? Did you think I was going to starve you?” he asked softly.
“I… never really thought about it,” she admitted.”But how am I supposed to eat anyways? My hands are tied. And I’m not sure I want to eat anything you cook.”
“I didn’t cook it, Butler did,” he answered. “And as for eating it, you have two options: I can feed to you, or I can untie your hands long enough for you to eat. But, if you choose the latter, I have to be able to trust you to not fight me when I go to tie them back down. That’s fair, right?” He pulled up his computer chair and sat down beside her.
She nodded slowly. “I’d rather not have you feed it to me, but I’m also not sure that if I did choose the latter that I would be able to bring myself to allow you to do that.”
“So what? You want me to feed it to you?”
She hesitated, but eventually nodded. “Yeah. I think that’s the safest way to go.”
He nodded. “Okay.” He picked up a piece and held it up, and she opened her mouth obediently.
It went on like this for a while, until the plate was empty and Artemis ran it back out to the kitchen. Butler was relieved to know who the meal was for; he still didn’t want to be involved, yet he still wanted to know how Holly was doing. Artemis assured him she was fine, which she was, right then, and climbed back up to the study.
He took the knife out of his pocket, laying it on the desk beside the computer. He bent over it, but secretly peeked out from under his arm to see Holly’s reaction. She winced when she saw it, and she dropped her gaze to the floor, but other than that he didn’t notice any change.
In truth, even the sight of it scared her out of her wits. It sent butterfly’s fluttering through her stomach and made her feel sick from fear. She wanted to scream, plead with him, beg for mercy, even though she hadn’t done anything wrong. But she refrained. It wouldn’t make a difference, she told herself. So why waste your breath. Frond knows how precious they are right now, as you might not have many left….
Artemis turned back, away from the computer. He was watching Holly, not paying attention to it any longer, so he missed the slight beep the computer emitted as another person joined the channel.
Holly’s eyes widened a fraction as he picked up the knife and walked slowly towards her.
“I know, Holly,” he said, cutting her off as she opened her mouth to speak. “I know you don’t want me to do this, and trust me, I don’t want to have to do it. But I do. I’m sorry.”
“Please,” she begged. “There’s another way, there has to be. You can’t do this to me. Please.”
“I can do it with my hands, if it makes you feel better,” he offered. “It might hurt more though. On second thought, maybe I should do it like that,” he mused quietly.
Slowly, deciding, he nodded and slipped the knife back in his pocket. Holly’s eyes got wider as he slowly reached out and laid his hand on the side of her face. “Artemis,” she pleaded. “No. Don’t do this. I-”
She was cut off by him digging his nails into her flesh, and the rest of the statement was lost in her cries of pain as he slowly and deliberately dug his nails down further into her skin, until he drew blood, and drug his hand down her face.
When he finally pulled back, there were four long marks gouged into the side of her face, gushing with blood. They stung terribly, and it wasn’t made any better by her salty tears flowing down into it. “I’ll be back,” he said softly. “Don’t move.”
Like I have much of a choice, she thought bitterly. It was only then she saw the people staring out at her from the computer’s camera. “Holly.” It was Root’s voice. “Are you okay?”
“I feel like crap,” she confessed. “And this hurts terrible. But I’m alive, if that’s what you mean.”
“I’m going to try to talk to the council, okay? I’m going to try to get you out of there.”
“Okay,” she whispered. The door opened, and Artemis walked back in.
He grinned when he saw Root on the screen. “Ah, Commander, so you did decide to watch.”
“You are sick and twisted, you know that?” Root demanded. “You disgust me. Why are you still doing this? Can’t you see what it’s doing to her? Don’t you even care that you’re hurting her at all? I-”
“Commander,” Holly whispered. All eyes turned to her. “Don’t… please…” Then she slumped over in the chair, unconscious.
Artemis strode over to her and checked her pulse. “Weak, but there,” he murmured. “She’ll be fine,” he announced, walking back over to the computer. “She has lost a lot of blood, that’s all, and with the shock and pain added to the mix…” He sighed, looking over at her. “Oh well. Hopefully you’re working at my demands, so she doesn’t have to be subjected to much more of that. Poor elf.” Then he glanced back at the screen. “Three hours until the next time. I’ll keep the channel open again. Goodbye, Julius.”
And before Root could object, he closed the channel.
It went on like this for a while, and the elf flashed in and out of consciousness during it. At about nine thirty, (missing two punishments while she was unconscious, though she still got them, she just wasn’t awake to feel them) Holly finally came around again. Artemis was sitting at his computer, watching the news. She watched him for a few minutes in silence, listening to the news as well.
“You hear that?” Artemis asked quietly, turning to her. “That’s what your race is causing. That’s why I’m doing this. Do you understand?”
She nodded. “Its hard to believe it though,” she admitted.
“It hasn’t even been a day, Holly,” Artemis whispered furiously. “And look how much damage has been done, how many people have been killed! It’s disgusts me. Anyone who can just sit back and watch this happen and not even have a guilty conscious… it’s disgusting.” He shut the program off. “Now, are you hungry? I’m sure, since you haven’t had anything since about two thirty this morning.”
“A little,” she allowed. “I guess. And can I have a glass of water, too, though? My throat is really dry…”
“Of course,” Artemis said. “I’ll be back shortly.” She scowled, and he chuckled slightly. “No pun intended,” he promised.
“Whatever, Fowl,” she muttered. He shook his head, still smiling, and walked out of the room.
Artemis walked into the kitchen and leaned against the edge of the table, not at all surprised to see Butler already up and working. “Breakfast is on the stove,” he said without looking up.
“Okay.” He walked over and started making a plate. By the small amount of food on it Butler must have realized who it was for.
“She’s still alive, then?” Butler asked.
“For now,” Artemis answered.
Butler raised an eyebrow. “For now?”
“Yes, for now. I’m not going to prolong her life any longer than I have to. I told the council they get three days, then she dies. Midnight on the third day, her time is up.” He leveled Butler with his gaze. “Why?”
The manservant shrugged. “Just wondered.” But it was clear to see in his face that why he asked; he was worried about the elf.
Artemis patted his arm reassuringly before exiting the room and walking back up to the study.