Central Park, New York City

The city resounded with the pattering of rain and the splashes of water. Gleaming roofs shed their moisture onto the roads, which were slick and wet. Tiny rivulets streamed down everything that was exposed to the steady drips of water from the sky, including the strange, diminutive figure huddled on the park bench.

The figure was obviously male, but not much else could positively be said regarding his identity. He was short, slightly over a metre tall, with cropped dark hair and an impressive physique for his size. He carried himself like a soldier, and underneath his wide, mirrored sunglasses (why he was wearing sunglasses on such a dark, grey, rainy day is anyone's guess) his eyes were a strange shade of brown – some might call it mud brown.

The figure shifted, and the wide-brimmed hat he wore moved with his body, exposing the tip of an undoubtedly pointed ear. Had there been witnesses around, this may have caused a slight alarm – but it was raining, and not many people willingly stay in a park once they start getting wet. As such, there was nobody around to hear the figure utter a short curse and see him readjust his hat.

After a few seconds, the figure carefully unfolded a soggy copy of the New York Times. He gingerly turned the pages until he found an article that interested him.

As fate had it, the story that drew his attention was one that many in New York had been following in earnest. The page's headline read:


Now usually, the affairs concerning other parts of the world were not regularly followed by the local citizens (unless they were of great importance – the affairs, not the citizens) – but the Fowl case was unique, and certainly unusual.

The Fowls were an Irish multi-millionaire family who could trace their roots back to the Middle Ages, and everyone had heard of them, mostly because of their famous – or rather infamous – criminal acts. Many a grand theft or scheme-of-the-decade had been committed by a Fowl, though it was said that the latest generation was going legitimate. The Fowl in question, Artemis Junior, though barely sixteen, already had an Interpol file of five gigabytes, but he had not done anything illegal for over two years, so maybe there was some truth in the claim.

Fowl fame being what it was, when Artemis Senior reported his son missing, naturally the tabloids picked it up like the flu. Soon news of the Fowl heir's disappearance had spread across the globe. Details were sketchy at first, but gradually, the pieces were put together by some of Ireland's finest detectives.

On the night of September 23rd, three weeks after his sixteenth birthday, Artemis Fowl II left Fowl Manor with an unidentified female friend (a girlfriend, maybe?) in tow. An official statement from the young heir's bodyguard (known simply as 'Butler') declares that Artemis was merely going for a week-long visit with his friend. The 'visit' was extended for two days at the behest of Artemis, who informed his parents via a phone call. But when he still failed to show after that time, and no contact with him could be gained, Artemis Senior and his wife Angeline Fowl reported their son missing. That had been over six months ago.

In all honesty, this was not the first time a Fowl had made head news. Artemis Senior had been held captive by the Russian Mafiya for over two years, and young Artemis Junior himself had made the front page when it was discovered that he was three years younger than his birth certificate said he should be. There were even rumours that Artemis had been missing for those three unaccounted years, but there were no official records to prove it and anyway, how could one possibly disappear for three years and return exactly the same age one had been when one left? It was for this reason that authorities had passed off Artemis's birth certificate as a mistake, but there was no denying that the Fowl family was attracting a lot of attention.

After reading the report in the newspaper – his back stiff, his frown growing more pronounced by the minute – the short, pointy-eared little man on the bench emitted a sound that was remarkably close to a growl. In his mind, he was thinking, What has Fowl been up to?

Then he muttered an unheard-of word in a strange language.

"D'Arvit", he swore.

A/N: Aahh! I'm back! Oh, wait, I say that everytime. Oh, well. This will be a multi-chaptered story (obviously), so sit back and enjoy the ride! Reviews appreciated!

Disclaimer: I don't own Artemis Fowl.