Chapter 16 starts with Merry and Sholto being hit with a blast of power that sends a huge wave over the shore of the island. They feel the island move under them, and once the water clears, they realize that they’re back in the formerly dead evil sluagh gardens. Doyle, Frost, and Agnes are yelling for them from the other shore, and then Doyle dives into the water to swim toward them. Everyone but Agnes follows; she remains standing on the opposite shore.
Doyle arrives first and goes to stand above Merry and Sholto, who, to my knowledge, is still FULLY INSIDE OF MERRY. Merry feels sorta bothered by this.
What do you do when you’re naked with one lover, and another lover is standing there?
Well, Merry, since it’s pretty well known that you’re fucking everyone, you just… react like normal? Finally Doyle takes Merry’s hand and lifts her off of Sholto. Yep, he was totally still inside her during this whole thing. The sensation of him drawing out of deep within my body shivered through me. Only Doyle’s grip kept my knees from buckling.
This entire time, greenery is taking over the island. It’s growing all around them, intertwining with their feet/legs. Some of the other guards are hesitant to approach them, and so Sholto, as king of the sluagh, gives them permission to approach.
Mistral said, “If you could see yourself, King Sholto, you would not ask why we stand on ceremony.”
The comment made me look back at Sholto. He was sitting up, but where he had been lying was an outline of herbs. Peppermint, basil – as I recognized them, I smelled their perfumes. But the herbs spreading out from where he had lain, where we had lain, wasn’t what made the men stop. Sholto was wearing a crown; a crown of herbs. Even as we watched, the delicate plants wove like living fingers through his hair, creating a wreath of thyme and mint. Only the most delicate of the plants, entwining themselves as we watched.
Agnes starts freaking out about this, because a crown of flowers is not a crown any sluagh should wear. The light in the room is shining very bright and Agnes and the two sluagh guards are having trouble merely existing in it. Sholto wishes that they could come closer, despite the light, which then causes the light to dim. Merry and Co realize that faerie is proving Sholto with power – he could likely bring back lost magics to the sluagh. Or, he could remake them into sidhe.
Sholto, being the ever so great and powerful ruler that he is, has no fucking clue what to do. He keeps asking for help, and when it’s provided (usually by one of Merry’s men), he shouts them down with a whiny “I AM KING HERE, NOT YOU”. This is yelled several times.
“What would you have of me, Uncles, what would you have me do?”
They glanced first at him, then at each other, then carefully down at the ground again. “We want to be what we once were. We want to hunt as we once did. Give us back what has been lost, Sholto.” Ivar held out his hand toward his king.
“Do not remake us in that sidhe bitch’s image,” Agnes yelled from the shore. It was a mistake.
Sholto yelled back at her, “I am king here. I rule here. I thought you loved me once. But I know now that you only raised me to take the throne because you wished to sit upon it. You cannot rule, but you thought you could rule through me. You and your sisters thought to make me your puppet.” He stood and screamed at her. “I am no one’s puppet. I am King Sholto of the Sluagh, I am the Lord of That Which Passes Between, Lord of Shadows. Long have I been lonely among my own people. Long have I wanted some to look as I do.” He slammed a hand into his chest. It made a thick, meaty sound. “Now you tell me I have the power to do just that. You have envied the sidhe their smooth skin, their beauty that turns my head. So have what you envy.”
So, because faerie is obviously listening to whatever he says, the magic starts working on Agnes and the other two guards. They’re panicking and trying to convince Sholto that is not what they desire. But, nope, he’s made up his mind. He wants them to have “terrible beauty”. And once he says that, faerie starts spreading its magic over the sluagh lands.
Then, Sholto and Merry have a… magic off? Merry keeps thinking of what would look nice and pretty in the gardens, and Sholto knocks it down. She first thinks butterflies would look nice, but Sholto wants it night, so then Merry decides fireflies would work in the garden, and this keeps going on because Merry can’t keep well enough fucking alone.
“Will you fight me for the heart of my people, Meredith?” Sholto said.
“I will try not to,” I said softly.
“I rule here, Meredith, not you.”
“I do not want to take your throne, Sholto. But I can’t help being what I am.”
“What are you?”
“I am sidhe.”
“Then if you are sidhe and not sluagh, run.”
Sholto decides to call upon the wild hunt, which will hunt down anything deemed as prey. So, all the sidhe there, basically. Anything not terrible and fearsome. Except, Rhys tells Sholto that he’s no longer just terrible and fearsome. He’s now as beautiful as a sidhe. So be it, Sholto says, he he dies, it’ll only serve to feed his magic to the sluagh and make them more powerful.
So Merry and her men start running. Merry asks faerie to create a bridge from the island, and one instantly appears. They run, and Sholto calls the wild hunt, and the chapter ends with Merry being told not to look behind her as she runs.