A Caress of Twilight – Chapter 24: Master makes Kitto sleep in a pup tent

Chapter 24 begins with Merry and Co driving back to their apartment to pick up Kitto for some reason. Apparently, when they had all gotten up for the day, Kitto had large purple circles under his eyes, so they let him continue to sleep while they went off to the murder scene. Frost tells her that he fears if Kitto cannot start thriving in LA, she may have to send him back to the goblins. Merry is aware of this, but worries what King Kurag may send next if Kitto has to return. Apparently, he had expected Merry to be offended when he offered Kitto to them, as Kitto was both considered ugly by goblin standards and also he is not connected to any of the royal goblin houses. Kurag had thought that he could get out of their alliance if Merry refused to accept Kitto. Because apparently no one in Faerie realizes that Merry accepts anyone.
They’re about to enter Merry’s apartment when Merry notices that Galen had set out a nice potted plant for Niceven’s surrogate. Merry knew Galen had put it out, because he had apparently taken over all the house chores for the group. Because Galen is the woman of the group, you see. He had also taken over trying to find them a bigger place to live, because Merry was well over her limit with 6 adults living in her tiny one bedroom. The only thing holding them back from finding something new was money – they refuse to accept  monetary help from the Unseelie Court, because Merry believed that accepting money from them would come with a price, namely a favor for her to grant. Merry knew that if she ended up owing her aunt a favor, if she were to become pregnant first and take over the throne, she wholly suspected that Andais’s favor would be for Merry not to kill her son, Cel. Which was a favor that Merry could not afford to grant.
They walk into the apartment and Merry smells lavender and sage incense burning. They had put up an alter to the sidhe gods inside the apartment and burned incense regularly.
People often thought that the sidhe had no religion – I mean they were once gods themselves, right? Well, sort of. They were worshipped as gods, but most sidhe acknowledge powers greater than they are. Most of us bend knee to Goddess and Consort, or some variation thereof. Goddess is the giver of all life, and Consort is all that is male. They are the template for everything that descends from them. She, especially she, is a greater power than anything on the planet, anything that is flesh, no matter how spiritual that flesh may once have been.
Galen wasn’t to be found in the apartment, but Rhys finds a note he left, saying that he went out apartment hunting and that Nicca was out on his bodyguard job for some actress. Hollywood elite had been trying to get the sidhe men as bodyguards to increate their media popularity since Merry took her guards back to LA. Frost is annoyed by it, but Merry understands why the actress felt compelled to hire him. Also, more money = larger apartment sooner, right?

Merry goes over to Kitto’s little tent… thingie… I guess Kitto sleeps in a tiny pup tent in the living room… like a little kid who set up their play tent and wants to sleep in it instead of their bed… ugh, yet another little kid Kitto comparison. So gross.
Anyway, Kitto won’t wake up, so Merry shakes him gently and realizes that his body is cold to the touch. Rhys and Frost go over to him, and Frost pulls Kitto out of the tent. Merry screams his name, and Kitto wakes, briefly, to say Merry’s name. Merry and Co then realize that Kitto is “fading”. It’s a thing that the lesser fey ‘fade’ if they are away from Faerie too long. Rhys goes into the bedroom and gets Doyle, and Merry begins panicking, yelling that there has to be something they can do.
“His mother was a sidhe. Save him the way you’d save another sidhe.” Doyle looked a little disdainful, as if I’d insulted them all.
“Don’t go all high and mighty on me, Doyle. Don’t let him die because he’s less mixed than either of us.” His expression softened. “Meredith, Merry, a sidhe fades only if he wishes it so. Once the process is begun, it cannot be stopped.”
Alright, first, wtf Doyle. Why try to start a fight RIGHT THEN? Could it be that you’re JEALOUS of Kitto and the attention he’s receiving? Hmm?
Doyle then agrees to go contact King Kurag and figure out what they can do to save Kitto from fading. Merry starts talking to Kitto, trying to get him to wake up, and Doyle walks back into the room moments later, telling them that he cannot get ahold of Kurag. Merry then demands that Frost give her his knife. Frost isn’t sure why he has to give up his knife, and Doyle orders him to listen to Merry – because yet again Merry cannot even get her guards to listen to her. What a great ruler she will be!
Frost eventually hands over his blade, but Merry asks him to hold it steady. She then cuts her finger on the blade, then draws her blood over the flat side of the knife. Blood magic used on a reflective surface can be used as a mirror as well, it turns out.
“Kurag, I call you; Kurag Thousand-Slayer, I call you; Kurag, King of Goblins, I call you. Thrice called, thrice named, come to me, Kurag, come answer your blade.” The surface gleamed through the light latticework of blood, but it was just metal.
“No sidhe has called a goblin by blade in centuries,” Rhys said. “He won’t answer.”
“The naming of three is very powerful,” Doyle said. “Kurag might be able to ignore it, but few others of his people could.”
“But I have something he won’t ignore.” I leaned close to the blade and blew my breath warm upon it until it fogged with the heat of my body.
Yeah, your breath is so powerful, mmhmm.
Well, whatever, it works, and Kurag suddenly appears in the mirror. They greet one another, and Kurag tells her that it has been a long time since a sidhe had called him through blood and blade. Merry learned it from her father, apparently, and knew that her father had often contacted Kurag that very way. Merry asks Kurag to help them with Kitto.
Kurag cursed in the guttural language that was high goblin. I understood only about every other word. Something about black tits. “The mark ties you together, you and Kitto. Your strength should sustain him.” His hand passed over his face like a yellow ghost in the blade. “This should not be happening.” I thought of something. “What if the mark healed over?”
“The mark would not heal, it would scar,” he said.
“It did heal, Kurag, and it did not scar.”
His orange eyes got very close to the blade, and very wide. “That should not happen.”
“I didn’t know that it was a problem to have it heal. Kitto didn’t say anything.”
“A lover’s mark always scars, Merry. Always. At least among our kind.” I couldn’t read his expression in that narrow piece of reflection, but suddenly he let out a great snort, and said, “Has he been allowed to mark that white flesh only once?”
“Yes,” I said.
“And the sex?” He sounded suspicious now.
“The treaty demanded only that I share flesh. Sharing true flesh is more valuable among the goblins than sex.”
“Gabriel’s Hounds take me. Yes we value flesh, but what’s a little bite without a little poke? Sinking teeth and dick into flesh, Merry girl, that’s the ticket.”
“The high and mighty sidhe, goblins are good enough to fight all your wars, do most of the dying, but not good enough to fuck. Sometimes I hate you all. Even you, Merry, and you’re one of my favorites.”
“I love you, too, Kurag.”
“Don’t sweet-talk me, Merry. If you’d have fucked Kitto regularly, the mark would have scarred. He needs a constant supply of flesh to sustain him out in the Western Lands. Either true flesh or fucking, but his tie to you is too week without it, and he is dying because of it.”
Merry then looks down at Kitto, ashamed that she is the reason he is fading, but realizes that Kitto is growing slightly warmer. Kurag doesn’t believe it, as if he is truly fading he should not be growing warm at all, he should be growing colder and colder.
            “Maybe it’s not too late then. Is he strong enough to fuck?”
“He is barely conscious,” Doyle said.
Kurag said a sharp word that I knew meant something that no goblin ever wished on another: impotency. It was their worst insult one to the other. “Can he tear flesh with his teeth?” We all stared down at the still form. He was warmer, though he still hadn’t moved at all. “I don’t think so,” I said.
“Blood then, can he take blood?”
“Maybe,” I said.
“If we wiped it up on his mouth, we might get some of it into him,” Doyle said. “If it did not choke him.”
“He’s a goblin, Darkness. He can’t choke to death on blood.”
“Does it have to be Merry’s blood?” This from Rhys.
“I know you of old… Rhys,” and that silence held a name that no one used anymore. “You should come visit us again, sidhe. The womenfolk still talk of you. That’s high praise from a goblin female.” Rhys had gone very pale and very quiet. He made no answer.
I love how all the characters in this story have to out-asshole one another.
Anyway, Kurag continues, telling them that if they’re able to feed him some of Merry’s blood (yes, it has to be hers), it may wake him up a little. If he wakes, then Merry must fuck him and share flesh both ways. He then chides Merry for taking the easy way into their alliance by sharing flesh but not sharing flesh.
“If I take him to my bed, then he has a chance to be king, king of all the Unseelie. That is worth more than a six-month alliance.”
Kitto’s eyes flickered; his mouth made a small movement. I slid my finger over his lips, between his teeth, and his body jerked, once.
“Oh, no, you won’t get me that easy, Merry girl, not that easy. You give him flesh like you should have done all along, and you get only three more months out of us. After that, your battles are your own.” Kitto began to suck on my finger like a baby, gently at first, then harder, harder, teeth beginning to graze my skin.
WIDDLE BABY KITTO UGH. He is basically a child. A CHILD. This is just gross.
“He’s sucking my finger, Kurag.”
“I’d take the finger out before you lose it. He’s not in his right mind yet, and goblins can bite through iron.” Kitto fought me, his mouth trying to hold on to my finger. By the time I pulled it free, his eyes were trying to open.
“Kitto,” I said.
He didn’t react to his name, or anything else, but he was warmer, and he was moving.
“Good, very good. I’ve done my good deed, Merry. The rest is up to you.” I looked directly into the blade again, instead of down at Kitto. “You’re just going to sit back and watch who wins, aren’t you?”
“What matters to us who sits on the Unseelie throne? It matters to us only who sits on the goblin throne.” Doyle’s deep voice cut in. “And what if Cel’s followers were planning war with the Seelie?” Doyle knelt down, one hand squeezing gently but firmly on my shoulder. I think he was warning me not to interrupt.
“What are you babbling about, Darkness?”
“I am privy to much among the sidhe that the goblins do not know.”
“You are not at court now.”
“I am not without ears.”
“Spies, you mean.”
“I did not use such a word.”
“Fine, fine, play the word games that you are all so fond of, but speak plainly to me.”
“There are those at the Unseelie Court who believe Andais is desperate to have Meredith named her heir. They believe having a mortal on the throne is the end of them. They are talking about going to war on the Seelie before they all become powerless mortals. Our strength comes from our kings and queens, as you know.”
“What you tell me is enough to make me throw in my lot with Cel’s people.”
“If the goblins were Merry’s allies, then no one at the Unseelie Court would risk fighting against her. They dare to challenge the Seelie only because they assume they will have the goblins’ support.”
“What is it to us if the sidhe kill each other off?”
“You are bound by word, blood, earth, fire, water, and air to support the rightful heir to the Unseelie throne in all matters of strife. If Merry sits on the throne and Unseelie rebels fight against her while you sit back and do nothing, then your oath will come back upon you.”
Doyle then tells Kurag that the Nameless has been let loose and says that if Kurag doesn’t back Merry, and doesn’t make good on his oath, there are things even worse than the Nameless that he should fear. Kurag then asks Merry why she fell silent, as Doyle had been doing all the talking. Merry tells Kurag that she’s is tending Kitto, so she has other things to focus on than warning Kurag of the consequences for breaking his oath.
“Merry girl, you are too much your father’s daughter. Essus was my favorite of all the sidhe. His loss was great to all the courts of the Unseelie, for he was true friend to many.”
“That means a great deal coming from you, Kurag.” I didn’t thank him, because you never thank an older fey. Some of the younger ones are cool with it now, but it’s an old prohibition among us, almost a taboo.
No, it IS a taboo, Merry. A prohibition means it was outlawed, illegal. Telling an older fey thanks is simply something you do not do, but it’s an understanding among the fey, not outlawed. You YOURSELF thanked older feys.


“Do you honor all the oaths your father gave?”
“No, some I did not agree with, and some I know nothing of.”
“I thought he told you everything,” Kurag said.
“I am not a baby anymore, Kurag. I know that even my father kept his secrets. I was young when he died. Some things I wasn’t ready to know.”
“You are wise as well as luscious; how sad. Sometimes I’d have liked you better if you’d been just a little more stupid. I like my women less bright than I am.”
“Kurag, you old charmer.”
He laughed then, a true laugh, and it was contagious. I laughed with him, and as the eyes began to fade out of the blade, he spoke “I will think on what your Darkness has said, and what you have said, and even what your father said. But you must give true sustenance to my goblin or in three months I will be free of you.”
“You’ll never be free of me, Kurag, not until you’ve fucked me. Or that’s what you told me when I was sixteen.”
Hahahaha good lord. Fuck this chapter. It finally ends with Kurag laughing once more at what Merry said, and telling her that he is almost glad she never accepted his proposal when she was younger, as he thinks now that she may have been too dangerous to be allowed anywhere near his throne.


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