Chapter 21 begins with the goblin archers firing at the wild hunt creature. Merry is standing near them, waiting for the perfect moment to begin using her hand of blood on it. She’s finally wearing a jacket (remember, she’d been nude this entire book so far), because it’s winter and it’s cold out. She’s also standing on top of Holly’s cloak, to protect her from the cold. Remember, Holly’s cloak.
Merry is waiting with only Jonty and one other Red Cap goblin; all others had joined the battle. Apparently there was a lot of hullabaloo before this, because the Red Caps didn’t take orders from Holly and Ash, only from Kurag, and Holly and Ash were taking huge offense to this, because they believe themselves to be the leaders of the goblin army. This makes Merry incredibly impatient, but she had to wait for them to sort it all out because reasons.
Jonty eventually tells Merry when she should start using her hand of blood, because yet again, Merry can’t suss this out for herself and needs someone to tell her what to do.
I concentrated on my left hand. It didn’t emit a beam of power, or anything like you see in the movies; it was simply that the mark, or key, to the hand of blood lay in the palm of my left hand. Or maybe doorway was a better term. I opened the mark in the palm of that hand, and through there was nothing to see with the naked eye, there was plenty to feel.
It was as if the blood in my veins had suddenly turned to molten metal. My blood tried to boil with the power of it. I screamed, and thrust my hand toward the cloud. I projected that burning, tearing power outward. I realized in that moment that it wasn’t just the archers who were shooting blind – I had never before tried to use the hand of blood on a target I could not see.
Merry is worried and hoping her power doesn’t accidentally hit one of her men, but she luckily catches a brief glimpse of the creature and is able to focus her power on that instead of just blindly throwing it into the mix. She feels a big explosion, and then is suddenly being drenched in blood. The other Red Cap who had stayed back with Merry, Bithek, was now bleeding furiously, and celebrates it.
“Your magic brings our blood, Princess,” Jonty said.
“I don’t understand…”
“Make them bleed for us,” the last Red Cap said.
I looked at him. “I can’t remember your name,” I said.
“For this magic, I would follow you nameless, Princess Meredith. Bleed our enemies, and cover us in their blood.”
So Merry turns back to the battle and calls her power again. The feel of the Red Caps bleeding behind her energizes her power, and she feels it growing more powerful than usual. Merry then sees a goblin running toward her from the battle. Once he reaches Merry, he tells her that she needs to aim her magic better, as it’s hitting all the goblins and her men. So, yet again, we get Merry trying to visualize the creature so that her magic doesn’t attack the wrong person.
I kept my eyes closed so nothing else could catch my eye. I was afraid that if I saw the goblin warriors again, I’d bleed them by accident. I knew what I wanted to bleed, and that was above their heads in the sky. I thought about all the beautiful things that could have flown above their heads. Did it have to be frightening? There was such beauty in faerie, why did it have to be nightmarish?
I heard the sound of wings whistling overhead, and opened my eyes. I’d fallen to the ground on top of Ash’s cloak, though I didn’t remember falling. Above us, so close that the great while wings brushed Jonty’s head, were swans. Swans gleaming white in the moonlight. There had to be more than twenty of them, and had I seen what I thought I saw on their necks and shoulders? Chains and collars of gold? It couldn’t be – this was the stuff of legends.
Nice continuity there. It was mentioned in the very beginning of the chapter that she stood on Holly’s cloak. LKH even went as far to say that Holly didn’t need it because it got in the way of his “ax”. I’m also really enraged by this spelling of ‘axe’. WTF did ‘ax’ become a thing? Google is telling me that it’s gained in popularity over the last years, and is now an acceptable form of axe? Fuck you.
Some geese and cranes follow the swans into battle. Moments later, the storm surrounding the battleground faded, and Merry sees the creatures fall to the ground, writhing in their death throes. Merry starts running to her men.
Inside my head, I could finally admit, it was Doyle I most needed to survive. I loved Rhys, but not like I loved Doyle. I let myself own that. I let myself admit, at least inside my own head, that if Doyle died, part of me would die as well. It had been the moment at the car, when he’d shoved Frost and me inside and given me to Frost. “If not me, it must be you,” he’d said to Frost. I loved Frost, too, but I’d had my revelation. If I could have chosen my king this moment, I knew who it would be.
Pity that I wasn’t the one doing the choosing.
Yeah, you sort of are? You could start fucking Doyle and Doyle alone, to ensure he is the one who impregnates you, thus ensuring his role as King. Your body, your choice, Merry.
Anyway, they make it to the group and Doyle is surrounded with black dogs. The dogs run over to Merry, and as she pets them she feels their fur tingling with magic. Then, Doyle appears before her, and she throws herself into his arms and the chapter ends with Merry weeping into Doyle’s chest.