Chapter 25 begins with Doyle (who isn’t capitalized in this version of the book – it just says ‘doyle’) charging into the room, with Unsa and Cathbodua dragging someone behind them. It’s some sidhe named Gwennin, who had originally been a part of the Seelie (Light) court but was cast out. Gwennin was mad that Merry had invited humans into the court, and so he had cast a spell that would have rendered them useless or even killed them.
Andais questions why these traitors would go after Merry’s allies and not Merry herself. She questions this despite the fact that she absolutely knows that if any of Cel’s men were to kill Merry, Cel’s life would be forfeit, which I believe was her own order. She then wonders why, if they were going after Merry’s allies, they weren’t going after the more powerful ones, like Frost or Doyle or Barinthus.
Andais then tells Kieran that he had a good plan, but he made one mistake in that he underestimated Merry and her merry men. He tells them that is a mistake he won’t make again, which then causes Andais to go AROUND THE ROOM asking everyone if they believe that to be a threat. Seriously, she asks Merry, she asks Frost, she asks Doyle, she even asks Blodewedd, the leader of the house Kieran belongs to. Everyone says yes, it was totally a threat.
The discussion then turns to some sidhe named Innis, who I’m sure was mentioned last chapter as being one of the traitors but it honestly didn’t even seem like enough of a plot point to mention. Anyway, Kieran had gotten Innis mixed up in his schemes, and so Andais orders the head of their house, Dormath, to choose who must be executed for their crimes: Innis or Siobhan (Cel’s guard who had gone after Merry in a previous novel). Dormath is super argumentative and keeps being excusey about why neither should die, but no one is giving into his shit. He’s not giving up, though.
[Dormath] spoke with his eyes lowered, so that he met no one’s gaze. “One tries to know their opposition and use their strengths and weaknesses against them.”
“Why am I your opposition?” Galen asked.
This tiny question sparks a multi-page back and forth between Dormath and everyone. He’s afraid if he tells them why he considers Galen opposition, then they’ll learn too much about Cel. That Cel wouldn’t want the question answered. That Andais already know everything Cel has done and she would kill him if he admits it publicly.
“I do not believe that there is a way to answer the green knight’s question without revealing much that I do not believe you want to know.”
“I do not believe that you know what I want, Dormath. But if you remain mute, I will kill you, and there will be no argument that it is unfair, for it will be one-on-one against me.”
He swallowed, and his throat looked almost too thin to hold the bobbing of his Adam’s apple. “Why are you doing this, my queen?”
“Doing what?” she asked.
“Do you want the court to know? Is that what you want?”
“I want a child who values his people and their welfare before his own.”
But, Andais, didn’t you just have a freak out about not allowing Biddy and Nicca to conceive because it would take their loyalty away from you?
Eventually one of the other sidhe nobles tells the court that Merry is their best bet, as she is willing to put the health of faerie, of the sidhe, everything above her own life. She is constantly putting everyone else’s welfare above her own life. And then it it announced that Maeve Reed is pregnant thanks to Merry’s fertility rites. Kieran finally admits that he was told that the ‘green man’, or Galen, would help Merry bring life to faerie and also become with child.
Andais determines that ‘green man’ could mean any of the men whose magics align close with nature, and orders Merry to have sex with several of them this night as well as Biddy and Nicca, in order to speed along the prophecy. She then tells everyone she’ll deal with the traitors, Kieran and Innis and whoever else, herself.
There’s a lot of pages about Andais learning everything we’ve already learned so far this book (Hafwyn being a healer, many of Cel’s guards not swearing a vow to him, etc) so I won’t repeat it all, but Andais eventually frees any guards who had not sworn vows to Cel to leave and either join Merry’s service or be free. Merry then says she would free the women from the vow of celibacy, because they cannot get her pregnant, and Andais never actually agrees to it, but sends them off to go do whatever (re: fuck) because now she’s in the killin’ mood. And the chapter ends with Andais caressing Kieran and Madenn screaming.