Butler was nervous. More than nervous. Artemis and Holly had disappeared. They were gone. He had checked both their rooms, the dining area, the living area, the gardens. He had gone inside again, running his hands over his shaved head and muttering foreign prayers, debating whether or not to call Artemis's parents.

So it was understandably relieving when the front door opened and the human and the elf fell into the foyer. They were both soaking wet, but at least they were alive.

"Artemis, what happened?" Butler demanded of his principal, who was lurching for a chair.

Artemis sank down into it, teeth chattering and knees shaking. He didn't say anything, only pointedly looked at the puddle he was creating around the carven legs of the antique Queen Anne chair. Butler took the hint. "I'll go get some towels," he said. "But when I get back, I want the whole story."

Holly snapped her head around to glare at Artemis the moment the manservant disappeared. "I told you you'd pay for it."

Artemis attempted a chuckle but it ended in a shiver. "My apologies, Captain."

"Apologies aren't going to help me now," Holly told him angrily. "What in Frond's name am I going to tell Butler?"

"The whole story, like I said," Butler growled, returning with the towels. "I want everything that happened, Holly."

With a final glare at Artemis, Holly sighed and began her story: She had had to laugh. It wasn't every day one saw Artemis Fowl II in riding gear, complete with helmet, breeches, and boots, straddling a large brown gelding . . .