The beast -- and there was no other name for it -- had come careening into Artemis with no warning, no panting or rustling of the tall grass. With no pretense, without even a satisfied toss of its scarred and matted head, it was ripping into the boy before he even had the chance to scream.
Before Butler could even fire a shot off at it, Holly had rushed to Artemis’ side, thoughtless, weaponless, with only the instinct to protect her friend. But this creature spared not a thought for her, other than to swat her backward with one of it’s massive, clawed paws, which visibly gouged her abdomen, even in the darkness.
Holly fell back, and her newly-renewed magic swirled brightly around her, healing her wounds.
With only a glance at the carnage, Butler emptied his gun into the monster’s body, but the bullets seemed to do no more than irritate the creature. With a glare at Butler, the creature picked up Artemis’ limp form in its massive jaws, then ambled away from Butler more quickly than anything its size had a right to move. It ran faster than any man, even Butler.
Butler would panic later. He took a slow breath. He would panic later. His charge may be half dead in the mouth of a creature straight out of a Stephen King novel, but panicking was for later. For now, he had work to do.
Since Artemis death, Butler had goaded the boy into wearing a tracking bracelet under the sleeve of his custom-tailored suits, and rightly circumstance had proven it necessary.
Butler grabbed the injured Holly short in one arm, and with the other opened the tracking application on his cell phone, while also running to the car.
A small, red dot blinked quickly across the screen -- Artemis.
Butler may not be able to run as quickly as this creature, but he could sure drive as quickly.
Sirius knew it had been a good idea to come out this full moon, whatever Remus said about the risk. If they had not come out, this boy would surely be dead.
They both had smelled the trail of his blood, smeared on the rocky ground as he had been dragged into the cave, and they had both smelled the other werewolf.
Moony froze and cowered back at the other wolf’s scent, but Padfoot plowed on, creeping to the mouth of the cave with a subtlety one would not expect of a creature his size. Inside, the wolf tore boredly at the boy’s flesh, seeming to attempt to incite a scream, rather than feed itself. The wolf’s back was bloody with what Padfoot could only say were bullet holes -- the wolf had encountered muggles, then.
The wolf, weakened and distracted by its plaything, did not notice Padfoot until he growled.
The wolf looked up. Then, it slowly walked toward Padfoot, like a creature used to others cowering before it. But Padfoot did not cower. Instead, he took the wolf’s neck in his jaws, and flung the creature from the cave. The wolf stood and snarled, but soon ambled away.
It was injured, and there was other prey to hunt tonight, anyway.
A moment later, Moony appeared at the mouth of the cave and crept to Padfoot and the boy, whose face he gently nosed aside, looking for a reaction. He received one in the form of a small, pained whine coming weakly through the boy’s lips -- still alive, then.
There was a small pop as Padfoot transformed back into Sirius.
“I’ll take him back home, Moony. We’ll do what we can for him and go from there, I suppose.” He honestly wasn’t sure they would be able to do anything at all for him, at this point. There was a lot of blood. “Well, you remember where we put your clothes. I’ll apparate back now, and you’ll come back in the morning.” Sirius looked over at Moony, who nodded. “All right then,” Sirius said to himself. He grabbed the boy on both shoulders, and then he was off to Grimmauld Place in a nauseating whirl.
Artemis was awakened by nothing in particular, and this was alarming. It was far into the morning, judging by the angle of the light hitting his closed eyelids, and there were no childish shrieks from Myles and Beckett playing (or loud reprimands from Juliette, for that matter). Nor was there the murmuring of his parents speaking in a room below, nor the clanging of kitchenware as Butler prepared breakfast. There was not even the low hum of the air conditioner as it circulated coolness through the old beams supporting the manor.
But neither was there the soft sounds of inhales and exhales, or the strange, weighty feeling that indicated another person was nearby, so it was likely Artemis was alone. He opened his eyes.
The room in which Artemis found himself reminded him of a dustier, more cramped version of the manor -- like a storage room no one had touched for years. There were boxes of diverse and unidentifiable objects stacked on the floor and furniture lumped under sheets, and the bed was crammed awkwardly in a corner, with a small space of empty floor around it to stand on, and only a narrow and hazardous path leading to the door.
Artemis pulled his eyes from the room to look down at himself. His chest and arms were covered in bandage -- bandages soaked with dried blood. Tentatively, Artemis raised a hand and pressed it to one of the worst looking spots on his chest. Nothing -- not a twinge of pain.
Artemis peeled back a strip of bandage on his arm to find not a wound, but a deep trench of a scar, a miniature ravine in his skin where flesh had obviously been gouged out.
And then it came back to him -- the monster that had attacked him. He could remember nothing more than the screaming pain, flashing with bloody white teeth and the pounding of Butler’s gunshots.
Artemis had no idea where he was, or who had treated his wounds, but he was not going to find out laying in this dusty room. He pushed his legs off the bed and stood, feeling only a little sore. Then he noticed a deep blue garment folded on the nightstand. For him?
When Artemis picked the item up and let it unfold in front of him, his first thought was that it was a dress. However, when he examined the item, it had a distinctly masculine cut -- something between a medieval robe and a victorian gentleman’s suit, with silver cufflinks and buttons, and embroidery spider webbing across it’s sleeves and shoulders. Like the rest of the room, this, too, gave the impression of having been abandoned in storage for a long period of time.
Despite its elegance, it was not a suit, and therefore it was atrocious to Artemis Fowl, but it would have to do; besides the disgusting bandages, his only clothing was the torn, upper half of his dark slacks. So it was either the dress, or nakedness.
Artemis cast off the rest of the bloody bandages (which seemed to cover the entire upper half of his body, including his face) and slipped the garment over his head before buttoning it up.
Now, to explore. Artemis grabbed a dusty, but very sharp-looking (and apparently sterling silver) candelabra from its place discarded on the floor. Although Butler had always been disappointed by Artemis’ lack of interest in exercise, Artemis liked to think Butler would be proud of him for taking a weapon before exploring an unknown environment.
Artemis twisted the antique doorknob and pushed his way into the hall, candelabra held tightly. But there was no one there, just a narrow hallway with several other old doors going along it and an even narrower staircase leading downwards. Artemis took the staircase two floors down to the bottom of the house, where he could hear voices and the sounds of someone cooking in the kitchen.
From the last step, Artemis could see through the doorway to the kitchen, where a middle-aged, red-haired woman spoke with a man out of sight and stirred something in a small pot in her arms. She set the food and the spoon down on the countertop, then proceeded to remove a stick from a pocket in her dress, wave it over the pot, then mutter something in latin. She turned back to the man and continued her conversation.
Behind her, the spoon was stirring the pot on its own.