A Lick of Frost – Chapter 4: The arguing, it never ends

Chapter 4 begins with the mirror filling with bright golden light. Taranis is calling, and he’s already in a jerk mood.

“King Taranis, I’ve spoken to you several times and never been so blinded by your light. If you could have pity on us mere humans and dim your glory just a bit?”
“What think you of my glory, Meredith?” the joyous voice asked, and the sound alone made me smile even as I squinted to save my eyes.
Frost squeezed my hand, and that touch of skin on skin helped me think. Taranis was not a power of flesh and sex. To combat what he was so good at, you had to use the magic you were good at, just to be able to think in Taranis’s presence.

Taranis is filling the room with his light, and no one can see. But instead of toning it down, he is focusing all his “glory” onto Merry, as if to impress her. The more Taranis speaks to her, the more Merry feels herself sucked under his influence. Which means that of course to keep Merry from falling under his influence, her men are petting her and kissing her. All in front of the gang of lawyers. Also, as soon as Taranis sees this, he throws a fit, because some of the men in the room are the ones who have been accused of rape.

Taranis finally drops his glamor and the lone female lawyer, Nelson (why does LKH never use first names?!) is instantly besotted with him. Taranis begins focusing his attention on this lawyer, and Merry and Co realize that he’s also using “love magic”, which is why Nelson is having such a strong reaction. Taranis then gets pissed off that Merry has surrounded herself with her men, and basically orders them to leave her side. They start to, until Merry reminds them that they serve her, not Taranis. She didn’t even need any prodding to do that, she did it all on her own. Good job, Merry.

Taranis then throws a fit about not wanting to discuss anything in front of the three accused men, so the lawyer Shelby asks them to be excused from the room. Merry won’t allow it, and Shelby tells her she’s being unreasonable. Merry then confronts Taranis for using his glamor to magically manipulate the lawyers in the room, which is illegal under human law. Taranis pulls the “well how else was I supposed to get your attention?!” card but it doesn’t work. Merry didn’t have to appear there for this conversation. She did so out of courtesy. So, Taranis shifts gears.

“But you are here, now, and you are more beautiful than I remember. I was very lax in my attentions to you, Meredith.”
I laughed, and it was a harsh sound. “Oh, no, Uncle Taranis, I think you were quite thorough in your attentions to me. Almost more thorough than my mortal body could endure.”
Doyle, Rhys, and Frost all tensed against me. I knew what they meant by it: Have a car, don’t give away court secrets in front of the humans. But Taranis had begun it, dragging us out before the humans. I was only following his lead.

Hmm… where else have we seen two leaders throw the “but he/she started it!” excuse?

Merry is referring to the time(s) that he almost beat Merry to death in his court. I believe it happened multiple times, but if I’m mistaken I don’t really care. So the lawyers start interrogating her/Taranis about when he beat her. Taranis never agrees that he beat her, but he also never denies it. The lawyers suggest that the fact that Taranis beat Merry as a child could “damage” the case, or whatever, which pisses Taranis off some more. He keeps trying to steer the conversation back to the rape accusations, and gets mad whenever anyone veers off that path.

Merry then again accuses Taranis of using magic to manipulate the humans to his side. Also, whatever spell he has is strengthened by the use of his name. The strength of the magic in the room overtakes Merry, and she nearly faints. Once she is seated, she smiles up at her men.

“I must take part of the blame that you sit among them so happily, Meredith,” Taranis said. “If you had only known the pleasure of a Seelie sidhe, you would never let them touch you again.”
“Most of the sidhe around me now were once part of the Seelie Court,” I said, simply leaving off his name. I wanted to know whether if I ceased to say “Uncle,” he would try to get his name to pass my lips for some other made-up reason. I’d felt the pull of magic when I said his name.
“They have been nobles of the Unseelie Court for centuries, Meredith,” Taranis said. “They have become twisted things, but you have nothing to compare them to, and that was a grave oversight on the part of the Seelie. I am mostly heartily sorry that we neglected you so. I would make it up to you.”
“What do you mean, they are twisted things?” I asked. I thought I knew, but I’d learned not to jump to conclusions when I dealt with either court.
“Lady Caitrin has told of the horrors of their bodies. None of the three of them are powerful enough in glamour to hide their true selves during intimacies.”

Turns out, Lady Caitrin had called the men ‘deformed’ in her statement, that they have bones and spikes “on their lower members”. Well, fucking case closed, then.

“King of Light and Illusion, are you saying that my three guards are so monstrous that to lie with them is painful and horrible?”
“Lady Caitrin says that it is so,” he said. He had settled back into his throne. It was huge and golden, and was the only thing that had not changed when his illusions were stripped away. He sat on what would cost, even today, a king’s ransom.
“You said that my men could not maintain their illusion of beauty during intimacies, is that correct?”
“The Unseelie have not the power of illusion that the Seelie possess.” He sat more comfortably on his throne, legs spread as some men do, as if to draw attention to their masculinity.

Ahahaha, he’s a manspreader.

“So when I make love to them, I see them as they truly are?”
“You are part human, Meredith. You do not have the power of a true sidhe. I am sorry to say that, but it is well known that your magic is weak. They have fooled you, Meredith.”

Merry starts to announce that what Taranis is saying is a lie, but then that pesky female lawyer, Nelson, starts walking closer to the mirror, as if under some strong spell. All the other lawyers in the room are taking much too long to react, and when they finally come to, it’s as if they’ve lost the last few minutes of conversation. So they finally agree that, yes, Taranis is bespelling them.

So Merry tries to get Taranis to admit to the magic he’s using against the humans, and Taranis gives an oath that he’s not purposefully trying to bespell any “full blooded humans in the room”, which means he’s forcing all his magic toward Merry, and whatever is affecting the lawyers is just residual. Merry tries to get Taranis to swear an oath of her choosing that he’s not trying to bespell her specifically, which causes Taranis to throw down even harder. Merry’s men start basically throwing themselves on her, since their touch seems to help take her from Taranis’s spell.

Even the human lawyers join Merry’s little touch pile, and Merry realizes that the Goddess is also trying to intervene and protect Merry. Merry asks her not to help, as to not give away “their secret” So the Goddess goes away, but leaves a touch of her power to help ease the magic.

Merry then just straight up accuses Taranis of lying, of the rape accusation being a lie, etc. The power in the room grows so much that Nelson starts screaming that she needs to go to Taranis. The whole room explodes into noisy chaos as they try to subdue Nelson, protect themselves from Taranis’s magic, call security, everything. This is all super confusing to relay to you because it’s so confusing to even fucking read. While all of this is going on, Taranis begins calling Merry to him.

One of the lawyers, it doesn’t matter which, honestly, then throws something at the mirror, and it hits the mirror like something hitting the surface of a lake. Merry then realizes that Taranis had made the mirror into a portal, so that either he could come through, or someone, likely Merry, could go to him. She notes that most of the sidhe had lost this ability, and no one had known Taranis still carried it. Anyway, throwing the shit at the mirror causes it to black out, so all that’s left is Taranis’s voice, they can’t see him.

This begins yet another fight between Merry and Taranis, and we have several pages of “the Unseelie are the dark faeries! They are evil!” “No, you are!” “No, you are!” It’s kids having a fucking fit over who has the nicer house. It’s so stupid. And then this stupid fight ends with Taranis sending a burst of heat through the mirror, and the chapter ends with Taranis screaming that “no, they won’t steal you from me, Meredith!” and another burst of light coming through the mirror straight for Merry.

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