Perhaps this will be all that will be needed, he thought, letting a sliver of optimism break into his thoughts. After all, from how almost coordinated his jump was, the homebody genius thought that the universe ought to reward him.
Artemis' feet left the grassy hill beneath him and he saw his hand pierce the shimmering green magic of Bruin Fadda's spell. Artemis relaxed. It would all be okay. It worked.
Things would be different now, of course. The Koboi disaster had wrought untold damage upon both the fairies and humans. The barriers and shields between the two had been dropped briefly, but it would be enough. There would be some smoothing out to be had, considering that the main culprit was, for once, on the Fair Folk's side of the fence, but it was a new world. A new frontier.
I could be an ambassador.
Then the spell slammed into him, feeling for all its etherealness like a brick wall. He slid down the magical corona neatly and would have viciously kicked it if he knew that wouldn't simply result in a broken toe. As if he needed more maiming now.
Artemis felt at his jacket pocket, delicate fingers wrapping around ancient leather and wood. Time for plan B.
Then, I really don't like plan B.
From the corner of his vision, Artemis spotted Holly and Butler. As expected they were barreling towards the magical hemisphere. From the looks on their faces, they appeared to be intending a rescue. If Foaly were in his ear right now, he imagined him nickering out something along the lines of, "Wow, and I thought I was the genius."
The Irish boy found himself surprisingly calm for all that he was in a rather dire situation. He even had time for imaginary centaur jokes. Then again, he did have a way out. The only difficult part was working up the nerve.
"Butler!" he called out. "Stop Holly!"
The bodyguard reached out his massive arms and caught the elf in a tight bear-hug. She immediately tried nearly every trick to get out, even biting him, but Butler remained impassive. There was simply no escaping such a grip. Realizing this, she shot Artemis a look that could only be described as desperate.
Artemis had the uncomfortable thought that the elf's expression was uncannily similar to the past's Opal before she had been summarily executed.
This more than anything spurred him on.
"Butler, please," Holly gasped. "This isn't right. It's supposed to be me!"
"Wait," said Butler, squinting at what his charge had just produced from his pocket. It appeared to be a dagger. "Just wait, Holly. He's got a plan."
"What's the plan, Artemis?" Butler asked, his voice conveying a certainty he did not have.
Artemis was waffling, considering the dagger.
"No," the bodyguard breathed. Despair etched itself onto Butler's features.
Holly drew the same conclusion and went limp in the man-mountain's arms.
"Why?" she rasped. "The magic shouldn't affect a human, Arty. Why hasn't it released you?"
Artemis felt the magic scan his person, looking for something. And finding it in his eye socket.
"I have a fairy eye, Holly," he said, stalling. "One of yours remember?"
He immediately winced at saying that, the implications of what he said sinking in. It pained him to see Holly's face like that. A pallor had spread across her already ashen face like a white tar. Her eyes suddenly took on a very far away look. She looked like a broken doll in Butler's grip.
I suspect she's thinking that she's killed me with the eye. Artemis thought. Preposterous. I stole this eye.
Nevertheless, he knew that he likely had seconds left. And if he died now, then Holly would be wracked with guilt for the rest of her considerably long life. Artemis, in no uncertain terms, would never allow that.
No more stalling. It was unfortunate that the magic was precise enough to detect the eye, but clearly the warlocks of old were no slackers. You're a logical creature, and you know what you're about to do is the correct move to ensure you stay alive.
But more important was the simple desire:
Holly, I'm coming.
Artemis deftly brought the dagger to his eye and gouged it out. He tried very hard to not think about the questionable sanitation of a dagger that had been palmed from Beckett's possessed body and likely been used to skin rabbits. Fortunately, he did not have to try very hard because he was in blinding pain.
Hah, blinding, he thought.
Then, Did I just laugh at that? Oh god, I really am going into shock.
Butler and Holly watched in abject horror as their friend buried a sharp length of steel in his eye socket. Artemis expertly disconnected the occipital nerve, and wrenched out the offending eye-ball with a stomach-churning squelch. It bounced against the magical barrier and disappeared into the grass, leaving a light bloodstain.
It was a testament to their combined professionalism that the two outside didn't immediately run towards Artemis, but that could be attributed to the fact that both of their jaws were wide open. Between Holly and Butler, they had seen their fair share of train-wrecks, some set off on their own accord, but impromptu ophthalmological surgery was new.
Their pause allowed Artemis to casually stroll through the magical corona. He passed through the magic as if it was simply eddies of early morning Irish fog. Artemis Fowl II straightened his tie.
Behind him, the green mist was sucked backwards into the Berserker Gate as if drawn by a vacuum. For a moment, Artemis was left standing, blood pooling down his gaping left eye socket. Butler released Holly and rushed to his charge's side.
By the time Butler caught Artemis in his hands, his charge was already blissfully unconscious.