A Caress of Twilight – Chapter 32: Oh the pedantry!

Chapter 32 begins with the group talking about the fertility rite they’re planning on performing for Maeve Reed when they are interrupted with yet another mirror phone call. This book is like 25% mirror calls – I’m no writing expert, but something tells me that when your book is like 85% characters sitting around in a room talking to others, it’s not really a good book.
 
ANYWAY they go to answer the phone and it’s Merry’s mother. Merry’s mother is a Seelie sidhe, so she basically holds her daughter in contempt and hates her, it’s all fantastic. Merry tells her men that she would like company for this phone call, so they go into her bedroom and Galen and Doyle help her get all set up to take the call.
 
Merry’s mother is sitting in the mirror, and several paragraphs are used to describe her. She’s a Seelie sidhe, so she’s beautiful and light, wearing lots of gold and sparkles, however being the child of a brownie, Besaba has very plain brown hair, normal human eyes and skin that doesn’t shine like true sidhe skin. Merry, despite being mortal and quite short for a sidhe, has all the true sidhe features Besaba lacks, and Besaba was always jealous of her daughter.
 
Ugh, seriously, there’s like 20 some paragraphs of character description, both of Besaba and Merry. Describing their hair and makeup and clothes and jesus Christ it’s too much. No one cares what clothes you got off the sale rack at Kmart, Merry, gosh!
 
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen my mother. Perhaps she couldn’t either, because for a moment she stared, seemed surprised, even shocked. I think she’d somehow convinced herself I didn’t look like this shining thing. She recovered quickly, because she is, beyond all else, the ultimate court politician. She can school her face to whatever whim of the king without mussing an eyelash.
“Daughter, how good to see you.”
“Princess Besaba, the Bride of Peace, greetings.” I had deliberately omitted our blood ties. The only mother I’d ever truly had was Gran, my mother’s mother. She, I would have welcomed; the woman sitting in the silk-draped chair was a stranger to me, and always had been.
She looked startled and didn’t quite recover her expression, but her words were pleasant enough. “Princess Meredith NicEssus, greetings from the Seelie Court.”
I had to smile She’d insulted me in turn. NicEssus meant daughter of Essus. Most sidhe lost such a name at puberty, or at least in their twenties, when their magical powers manifested. Since mine had not manifested in my twenties, I’d been NicEssus into my thirties. But the courts knew that my powers had come at long last. They knew I had a new title. She’d forgotten on purpose.
 
Merry calls her mother out on leaving off her title, Princess of Flesh,  and Besaba brushes it off like it was no big deal. Besaba quickly changes the subject to the Yule Ball, and she tells her daughter that she looks forward to seeing Merry there. Merry tells her that she finds it hard to believe that Besaba didn’t know she wasn’t attending, and Besaba tells her that surely that was a mistake, that there are many who would give anything to be honored with an invitation, especially from Rosmerta herself.
 
“Yes, but you do know that I am now heir of the Unseelie Court, do you not, Mother?”
She sat up straight again and shook her head I wondered if all that gold leaf on her hair was heavy. “You are coheir, not true heir. Your cousin is still true heir to that throne.”
I sighed and stopped trying to look pleasant, settling for neutral. “I’m surprised Mother. You are usually better informed.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said.
“Queen Andais has made Prince Cel and me equals. It remains only to see which of us produces a child first. If I take after you, Mother, it will surely be me.”
“The king is most eager that you attend our ball.”
“Are you listening to me, Mother? I am heir to the Unseelie throne. If I travel home for any Yule celebrations, it must be the Unseelie ball.”
She made a small movement with her hands, then seemed to remember her poise, and placed them carefully back on the arms of the chair. “You could be back in the king’s good graces if you but come to our ball, Meredith. You could be welcome at court again.”
“I am already welcome at court, Mother. And how can I be back in the king’s good graces, when to my knowledge I’ve never been in his good graces to begin with?”
 
Oh cool, another one of these pedantic arguments. I really hate whenever Merry has discussions with anyone from the Seelie court. They all go like this – Merry says something, the Seelie’s cannot believe it, are aghast that it’s even suggested! Merry repeats what she just said, and the Seelie cannot believe it, are aghast that it’s even suggested! Merry repeats what she just said, and the Seelie cannot believe it, are aghast that it’s even suggested. Like, this is not at all fun to read. This is a sloggy mess of boring. I’d rather read programming text books than this garbage.
 
Anyway, that argument between Merry and Besaba turns into everyone’s favorite round of The Seelie Cannot Even Believe That Merry Would Choose the Monstrous Unseelie Court Over Their Perfect Shining Seelie Court!
 
I looked at her, so carefully beautiful, so stubbornly biased. “Are you saying it would be better to be the least of all the royals at the Seelie Court, instead of ruler of the Unseelie Court?”
“Are you implying that it is better to rule in hell than be in heaven?” she asked, almost laughing.
“I have spent time at both courts, Mother. There is not a great deal to choose between the two.”
“How can you say that to me, Meredith? I have done my time at the dark court, and I know how hideous it is.”
“I have spent my time in the shining court, and I know that my blood is just as red on shining gold-laced marble as it is on black.”
She frowned, looked confused. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“If Gran had not interceded for me, would you really have let Taranis beat me to death? Beat your own daughter to death in front of your eyes?”
“That is a hateful thing to say, Meredith.”
“Just answer the question, Mother.”
“You had asked a very impertinent question of the king, and that is not a wise thing to do.”
I had my answer, the answer I’d always known. I moved on. “Why is it so important to you that I attend this ball?”
“The king wishes it,” she said And she, like me, moved on from the earlier, more painful questions.
 
Merry again tells her that she cannot come to the freaking ball, and Besaba continues to press it. Merry eventually figures out that Taranis had likely offered Besaba something in exchange for getting Merry to attend the ball. Merry asks what Taranis had offered her, and Besaba responds with a “come to the ball and I’ll tell you.” Because these characters have the maturity of children.
 
Merry finally gets sick of this conversation and decided to end the call.  Immediately after she “hangs up” on her mother, the phone mirror rings again, and the chapter ends with them knowing it is Besaba calling again to continue the argument, and Merry and Co deciding to ignore it.
 
First intelligent thing they’ve ever done. 

 

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