CONTAINS LOTS OF BLOOD AND GORE.
But Minerva dies in the first chapter, so it’s worth reading. (Pssh. She’s not that bad.) Heheh. I’ll update it soon.
It was about 10:00 at night when he got the call.
Artemis was sitting alone in his office, researching the history of various nursery rhymes, and relating them back to fairy the history of the People. Slowly he made progress piecing back a complete history of the world. But he would not make progress tonight.
As the grandfather clock rang the last note of 10:00, another ring continued. Artemis pulled himself from the depths of his thought to remember it. It was close, and buzzing, and as he got farther from his intuitive bliss and closer to the real world, the noise became horribly familiar: the ring. The fairy ring.
“Holly?” Artemis spoke out loud, activating the technology. But it was not Holly’s familiar voice at the other end. Instead, a recording rang almost unfamiliar from the other side: “Emergency involving your protection. Come quickly.” It gave exact coordinates of the supposed emergency and hung up.
The police were still swarming over the area when Butler parked the tiny, inconspicuous car near the crime scene. It was half a moment as Artemis stepped out of the car and onto the pavement when until the police man saw them.
“YOU! There, in the suit!” He approached Artemis in two long, stiff steps. “What is your business here?”
Artemis held his gaze steady, glimpsing the carnage over the police man’s shoulder, as Butler stepped out of the car. “A friend of the victim.” Butler cracked his knuckles, and the officer stepped aside.
Neither Artemis nor Butler were quite prepared for what they were about to see.
Half of a rope still hung from the branch of the tree, and a pool of blood still dried on the ground. Nails, looking almost rusty with dried blood, lined the tree. And there, nailed to the ground, was a branch of the tree, recently pulled off. Even with the body removed, the place still had the eerie coldness of a murder scene.
Artemis automatically strode up to a man in a suit, very similar to his own, who was staring intently at the branch on the ground. At Artemis’s approach, he turned and looked up at the newcomer. “Artemis.”
Artemis reached out and pretended to shake hands with the holographic man, a result of Foaly’s hard work and intuition. “Greetings.” There was a moment of thick silence, in which they both stole a nervous glance at the taped-off half-nightmare. The figure turned and comfortably looked the boy genius in the eyes.
“It was Minerva.” His holographic hand reached into his holographic pocket, and yet produced a picture that was very, very real. The lines matched up perfectly even as the rope swayed in the wind as the photograph was held to eye level.
Instead of lonely wind between the rope and the blood-pool, a familiar body hung there instead. Instead of a dozen bloody nails bristling the tree, a hundred gushing nails lined the corpse. They were numerous nails on the hands and feet; it looked as if the murderer had hung his victim and then nailed the dying limbs to the tree as they died. But it would have been too slow for her to have been hung; ten or so nails sprouted from her neck like sick weeds. And, there, two long, parallel marks meandered through the face to their origins in the right temple. Artemis’ stomach churned.
It was Minerva. No matter how many times Artemis blinked, no matter how hard he squinted, no matter what technology the People had, Minerva was still dead.
The man turned back around and put the photograph back into his pocket. “Found her here last night. We called you as soon as we could.” They both stopped and stared at the scene of the murder for a instant, and then the moment broke. “Please meet us tomorrow. We”ll be waiting for you just outside.” He stalked away very suddenly, and disappeared behind a tree. Butler placed his hand on Artemis’ shoulder as his master shook his head.
“There was someone here, Butler,” he said softly. “Someone very clever.” The words hung in the air like mist, and vanished when he turned his head and walked back to the car.
The doorstep was cold and rather unforgiving, Artemis thought to himself, and about as comforting as the thought that whoever it was would very likely be coming for him as well.
Hahaha, sorry, just wanted to fix the spelling.