Chapter 33 begins with Doyle stabbing Merry in the mouth with his knife. I’m not kidding. Before a duel, the sidhe have to do various blood oaths, and the first oath is a cut to the face. So she has Doyle cut her lip, then he cuts her hand, and finally makes a tiny cut to her throat. They’re all tiny, shallow cuts, but they all hurt and sting. Merry waits for Miniver to receive her cuts, so that they may begin the blood oath process and begin the duel.
We stayed unmoving for a heartbeat or two, then she started forward, striding in her full skirt like a confident golden cloud. I walked to meet her. I had to be more careful, because the high heels I was wearing were not meant for striding over old stones. It would ruin so much if I twisted an ankle.
Why in the fuck are you wearing high heels, Merry? Take them off before you start dueling if you’re AFRAID OF FALLING AND TWISTING YOUR ANKLE. You could die during this duel, and yet you’re worried about tripping in your heels. Ughhhhh
Merry and Miniver meet in the center of the room, and they lock eyes. Merry then realizes that Miniver seems overly excited for the duel, as if she was enthralled with fighting and torture and death. Merry remembers that whenever the queen would start her bloody entertainment, Miniver would leave the room, and she always thought it was because Miniver was too delicate for the entertainment. Merry now realizes that it was because Miniver was afraid she could not control herself in the audience.
So they meet and Merry tries to get the oath thing started, but Miniver won’t bend down to kiss Merry, or whatever they’re going to do to make the oath. Miniver makes some big deal over the fact that Merry is shorter than she is, which makes her unfit to rule the Unseelie Court. Merry reaches with her cut hand for Miniver’s hand, but Miniver pulls away in disgust.
Since Merry was challenged, she got to decide the manner in which the duel would be fought. She chooses magic so that she may fight with her hands of power. Miniver has two hands of power as well. With one, she can basically call down lightening or energy in bolt form. With the other, she could form invisible claws over her hands and rip through Merry’s chest.
Finally, they embrace and press their wounds together for the blood oath. Miniver is grabbing Merry so hard it hurts, but Merry is trying not to show how badly Miniver is hurting her. Miniver pulls Merry to her mouth so they can rub their cut lips together, and Merry uses her fear and pain to begin causing Miniver to bleed with her hand of power. Merry is making the blood pour out of her wounds, so Miniver throws her to the ground and stumbles back. Her wounds have ripped open, her throat wound revealing the bones of her neck, but Merry continues to make her bleed. Merry then reaches her, places her hand on Miniver’s chest, and the chest basically explodes, but Miniver is still living. In the past, whenever Merry had to duel, she could easily kill her challengers because her blood would turn them mortal. However, with this duel, even after all the blood loss, open wounds, and chest explosion, Miniver still lives.
So Andais declares the duel over and Merry the winner, but Nerys challenges this, saying that Merry must leave the dueling circle of her own volition. Merry is having trouble walking, so instead she asks Doyle to ask the queen to tell the room what Nerys did. Andais does so, and Nerys tries to run from the room, but the queen’s guards stop her. Nerys’s people start fighting the guards, and to stop this, Merry tells the demi-fey in the room that she is offering them all the flesh and blood of Nerys and her people. The demi-fey immediately flood over to Nerys and her people and swarm them. They begin feasting.
Merry then calls the goblins over to her, and Jonty and the other Red Caps carry Merry from the dueling circle. One of Nerys’s people calls out to Merry, begging her to call off the demi-fey. Merry tells them that Nerys must die for what she did, and Nerys calls out that she will pay the price for the attempt on the queen’s life if her people can live. Andais agrees to this, and Merry calls the demi-fey off of Nerys’s people.
Nerys steps out of the audience, and Merry orders Ash to kill her. He cuts her to pieces, but she is still living, so the queen hands Merry her personal sword, Mortal Dread, to kill Nerys. Mortal Dread has the magical power to kill an immortal. Doyle carries her over to the living remains of both Nerys and Miniver. There’s some drama about how Merry is weak for bringing both Nerys and Miniver to their true death instead of giving them over to the goblins for food, but it’s really boring and sort of petty (Merry throws some barbs at the queen, the queen does the same back, blah blah, it doesn’t even matter).
Which doesn’t even matter because Miniver ends up wanting to be fed to the goblins. She believes that she’ll heal before the goblins can eat her, which means she could escape. Nerys, however, wishes for true death. Merry orders the Red Caps to take Miniver to the goblin mound to be devoured, but first she must kill Nerys. Andais tells Merry that she must be the one to deal the death blow, otherwise if Merry is too injured to do so, Nerys will be handed over to the goblins alive, just like Miniver. So Merry drives the sword through Nerys’s heart, but starts wobbling around, so Galen finally fucking helps her take off her high heels. While they’re doing this, Merry hears Miniver screaming.
The goblins had moved so that they court could see what they were doing. It was a show – and what good is a show without an audience? One of the smaller Red Caps was kneeling beside Miniver. His fingers were playing in the healing flesh of her chest. He traced and tickled her flesh, as if he were touching her genitalia. A touch here, a caress there, and it showed skill, but his fingers weren’t between her legs. His fingers were inside the meat of her chest. He was caressing the top of her heart as if that would finally bring her to orgasm.
So Andais comes down to stand above Miniver. She calls Miniver a fool, and that because she has not yet died, she is proof that Merry is no longer mortal. Miniver screams out “Lies!” because of course she would. Andais sends Merry away so that she can be healed, but tells Merry first that she must stop being so merciful, as if she shows any weakness to the court, the sidhe will surely take advantage of that mercy and see her killed.
Fflur, who showed up in the first book, I believe, comes over to take a look at Merry’s injuries. Merry is quite injured, and because she is half-human, she heals much slower than the full sidhes, so Ash and Holly leave her side, as they were supposed to be getting their sex that night. Sholto, the King of the Sluagh, also tells Merry that he will wait to begin their bargain negotiations because of her injuries. Guess what, their bargain ALSO involves Merry fucking someone!
Anyway, the chapter finally ends with Merry being escorted out of the room by her guards so that she may begin healing.