Artemis Fowl had never felt inadequate. He had never felt lost.
But Holly was gone.
Holly Short, the elf. Holly Short, the fairy who had shown him that life meant more than money, that fulfillment could be found in something other than gold. For all intents and purposes, Holly Short had opened up his life.
And he had let her down.
Perhaps a bit of back-story would be useful at this point.
I will assume that everyone reading this has a basic understanding of Artemis Fowl and Holly Short. I will assume that everyone who is reading this has read about Fowl’s exploits and his adventures with Holly Short, culminating with their dimension jumping escapade with N1 and the demons.
Two days before the present, Captain Holly Short had been lost in the line of duty. The squad she had been leading had fallen to a group of rogue trolls, who had sprung out of nowhere. Not a single body had been recovered, not even a funeral to comfort the grieving families. All that was left were bloody uniforms and a few severed limbs.
Foaly had broken the news to young Artemis. Artemis hadn’t responded. In fact, he had dropped the phone. For the first time, his mind had completely stopped. He hadn’t moved until Butler, worried about the apparent absence of his master, had come in. The moment that Butler had touched him, it was as though a spell had broken, and Artemis Fowl had broken down in tears. Through gasping sobs Artemis had told Butler about Foaly’s call.
Now that we have you all caught up, you will understand what a sorry state young master Artemis was in. For someone who had hardly cried throughout his whole life, Artemis was doing an awful lot of crying. It was as though all the tears he had held back his whole life were finally breaking forth, as though Holly’s death was like a wave striking a dam. All the tears rushed out from behind the dam, flooding Artemis’ senses and drowning his body.
Butler had done everything he could, but nothing seemed to make a difference. On the contrary, everything that Butler did seemed to make Artemis all the more loathe to come out of his room, where the young genius had locked himself. He didn’t come out to eat or to see his mother or father or the twins. The only thing he did was stay in and cry. The sobs sapped his strength faster than the most strenuous exercise, leaving the young boy, once so devious and lively, little more than a trembling heap under his blankets. Foaly made a special trip to the surface, and Mulch came over, too, to see how the young Mud Boy was doing. All to no avail, though, as Artemis refused to see any of them.
I will not recount young Artemis’ deep emotional and physical suffering further; I will only say here that he remained like this for a week and two days, nine days altogether. He most likely would have remained like this until he died of starvation or simply exhaustion. But Artemis Fowl did not die. Because something occurred to pull him forcibly out of his depression, something that many people might consider insanity at this point. That thing was hope.
Artemis Fowl regained hope that Holly Short was alive.
Now, most of you might laugh. Artemis Fowl had never been laughed at, but many of you might well be laughing at him now. Holly Short’s patrol was ambushed by trolls. Bloody uniforms and limbs were all that was left of those unfortunate fairies. How could such a rational boy as Artemis Fowl have even a sliver of hope that Holly was, in fact, alive?
The answer lies in a deep connection between the two of them. A connection born of a transfer, a bonding of minds, in the time-space tunnel used to transport the demons. This connection not only gave Artemis a hazel eye and Holly a blue one, but it also bonded their very souls.
Each night as Artemis slept, he was tortured by dreams of Holly’s demise. He was tortured by bloody images. One night, though, a different dream came. As Artemis’ eyes closed, he found himself with the LEP recon patrol, gazing through Holly’s eyes. Or, he corrected himself, one of Holly’s eyes. The trolls were upon them, and three LEP officers already lay dead, trolls ripping their uniforms off. Every fairy had their tunnel lights on, their only defense from the bloodthirsty creatures. Artemis could feel that his- Holly’s –arm was broken, hanging uselessly at her side. Blue sparks played around it, healing the bone, but her magic had other places it needed to be, and the healing was slow. There were too many trolls, and even if a fairy managed to keep one away with the headlights, another pounced on its back. Eventually the fairies formed a ragged circle, on Holly’s command. This, at least, made the trolls pause.
That was when one of the fairies, a pixie, broke away. Panic got the better of the pitiable creature, and it bolted. The circle was broken, and the trolls jumped on the opportunity. Artemis- Holly –could only watch as fairies were ripped limb from limb in a gruesome display, the colors of carnage sickeningly lurid against the grey cave walls. Holly herself was bleeding from some very deep wounds, parts of her uniform ripped off with her skin. Panic was overwhelming her mind, cold fear closing around her heart. Her wings, damaged in the first assault, hung uselessly against her back, sparking occasionally. She had seen what happened to fairies who tried to flee to the sky, anyway.
Then, she saw it: a pair of working wings on the body of a fallen pixie. This particular body had been neglected by the trolls in the bloodlust; no doubt they would turn on it as soon as all the fairies were dead. It was almost more than Holly could take, slipping the wings off the chilled and stiffening body of her comrade. Strapping the wings onto her own back felt like she was abandoning her brethren.
Then she was struck from behind. And Holly Short realized that she didn’t have the luxury of worrying about others.
Still, her mind clung to her code of honor, to stay and fight.
But then she noticed it:
There wasn’t a single other fairy left alive.
Holly felt nausea come over her. She flicked the Hummingbirds on, dizzy and sick with blood loss. Even now, there was no guarantee she would get far.
The trolls were distracted by their bloody feast, though. Holly managed to make it into a side-tunnel, continuing on until the wings gave out about a mile from the main cavern. Collapsing there, her chest heaved as she fought for breath through her injuries. Everything was flickering in and out of focus, and her magic was dangerously low. In the dream, Artemis felt the passage of time.
Suddenly, he found himself no longer looking through Holly’s eyes, but into them, looking down at her.
At last, a gasping breath came from Holly’s lips. A few dying blue sparks clustered around her bright blue eye.
“Artemis…” she choked, blood spurting from her mouth and wetting the ground again. “A-Artemis…” Her voice was so thin that it broke Artemis’ heart. He wanted, at that moment¸ nothing more in the world than to just be able to hold her, comfort her as she struggled for her life. “Ar…temis…” Tears welled in the elf’s eyes mixing with dried and fresh blood on the muddy ground. “Help me… p-please… h-help…”
Artemis woke from the dream as though coming out of an ocean of sleep. Then, he saw a flicker of blue at the edge of his vision, from the side of his single hazel eye. He bolted upright, feeling the familiar tingle of magic on his skin. He fumbled with the mirror that sat on his bedside table.
Dying blue sparks danced around his eye. Not his sparks, either; not his magic.