(A/N) Hi again!! This is part two of my story Search for Life (duh)… so you really won’t understand it without reading part one, which I really recommend!! Enjoy!!
Technically, this is chapter 11.
Artemis felt the passage of time, but he couldn’t begin to imagine how much. The silence was broken only occasionally by a rasping cough from Holly, who’s condition was worsening again. Opal won’t find any bodies… he thought. And then she won’t give up until she does.
At some point, Holly pressed her body against his. “We’ll stay warmer like this,” she murmured, and Artemis felt her shivering.
The pair drifted in and out of sleep, dark thoughts swirling in the silence between them. Then, the terrifying sound that they had both been dreading: the pound of boots.
Holly and Artemis instinctively pressed closer together, and the young Irish boy felt completely cornered. His body curled automatically around Holly’s smaller one.
Opal’s shrill voice, too far away to make out the words, was carried down the passage, making Artemis’ spin tingle with dread. She’s found us…
“We have to go down,” Holly whispered.
Artemis stiffened. “Down? Holly, are you crazy? That’s a sheer drop!”
“And that,” she said, indicating the direction of Opal’s voice, “is certain death.”
Artemis saw that there was no other way. Truly, that was the only option.
Holly stood. Or tried to. That was the most frightening thing about the situation.
Holly couldn’t stand.
Her legs folded under her, and she fell with a barely audible thump. Artemis almost cried out.
Holly grunted. “I’m fine… my legs are just asleep from sitting for so long.” But when she tried again, her strength failed again. Artemis saw, in the dim light, tears of frustration, dread, and perhaps pain in her eyes.
“Come on,” he said softly, and picked up his elfin friend, slinging her onto his back.
Holly stiffened with surprise, suddenly finding herself on Artemis’ back. She could feel his heart pounding, hard and fast with fear and determination.
Artemis reminded himself to thank the twins for the endless hours of piggyback rides. Who would have thought it would come in handy? Well… if he ever got a chance to see the twins again. He felt Holly’s heart beating out a quick rhythm, and took strength from her. No problem… she weighs less than Beckett… that can’t be healthy, even for a fairy… he noted, sparing a moment for concern. Worry about health problems later. Worry about not dying now.
Flattening his stomach to the cold rock, he edged backwards, urged on by the ever closer pound of boots. He felt Holly tense on his back as he met with empty air.
Artemis Fowl slipped off into the chasm.
Clinging as best he could to the vertical wall, Artemis took a deep, steadying breath. Though he couldn’t see, the emptiness itself seemed to have a presence, and a sort of vertigo clawed at him. Holly’s fluttering heart was the only thing that kept him steady, and reminded him that both their lives hung in the balance.
They began their decent.
Artemis’ fingers gripped at the sheer rock, soon becoming slick with blood. The pace was agonizingly slow, but it was the best Artemis could do. Every inch of his body burned with strain, bones creaking and muscles stretching. Eventually, his shoes got in the way, and he kicked them off. He counted 10 seconds before they hit water. Water… there’s no way to even know if there’s any solid ground below us…
The ledge his foot was resting on crumbled. He felt his body lurch, and Holly’s heart sped. Digging his fingers in, every iota of pain vanished as he focused on protecting Holly. That meant slowing their decent.
Well, their decent didn’t slow until Artemis’ feet hit a large shelf of rock. He fell onto it with a thud, first to his knees, then his hands. Holly scrambled off his back, acutely aware of all the blood.
Artemis struggled to his knees with a groan. “I’m fine…” he grunted, tearing strips off of his jacket to wrap his hands and feet.
“Don’t you have any magic left?” Holly asked imploringly.
Artemis shook his head. “No…” For a moment, he was back on that frigid train, and reminded himself of the magic he had taken from Holly. He would save every spark he had no for her.
Pulling the makeshift bandages tight, he stood up. “We should keep moving.”
No sooner had he said it then a light pierced the darkness. Both human and fairy looked up to see a search light shining from the tunnel.
“Get down!” hissed Holly, her training kicking in. Artemis didn’t need to be told twice, his legs already week with fear and exhaustion. He flopped to the stone, allowing Holly to collapse on top of him.
The light hit them, accompanied by a high-pitched cackle. “Look at the lovely blood! We’ve found our corpses!” Opal giggled, sounding delighted.
This might just work… Artemis thought hopefully.
“But we’re too deep for our instruments to work reliably… let’s just make sure, shall we?”
Artemis felt himself tense, and opened his eyes a crack just in time to see the neutrino blast that hit the rock shelf. The stones crumbled, and he found himself in freefall.