Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 8: A Confusion of Storytelling

Chapter 8 begins with the hunt bursting into the Seelie court chambers. At first, they just see a “confusion of colors” but once their eyes adjust, they see all of the Golden Court, with Taranis sitting on his throne. As the hunt grows closer, Merry sees several members of the court move closer to protect Taranis, however she also sees just as many move farther from him.

Merry starts to get distracted by the magic in the air, however yet again, Sholto’s magical grip saves her from being totally overwhelmed. Meanwhile, the dogs of the hunt weren’t affected by the magic and instead helped to lead the hunt toward their prey: Merry’s cousin Cair. Cair presses herself up against the marble wall of the room in order to keep as must distance between herself and the dogs as she can, and Merry can tell she’s terrified.

Merry gets close enough and gently touches Cair’s cheek. As she does, the once-dried blood that covered her hand turns fresh again, leaving a streak of their Gran’s blood on Cair’s face. Merry then calls out to the court that she’s named Cair “kin slayer”. Cair’s mother, Eluned, steps in and tries to deescalate the situation. Eluned asks who Cair is accused of killing.

[I] held my bloody hand out toward my aunt. “This is your mother’s blood, our grandmother’s blood, Hettie’s blood.”
“Are you saying that…our mother is dead?”
“She died in my arms.”
“But how?”
I pointed at my cousin. “She used a spell to make Gran into her instrument, to give her Cair’s hand of power. She forced Gran to attack us with fire. My Darkness is still in the hospital with injuries that Gran gave him with a hand of power she never owned.”
“You lie,” my cousin said.
The dogs growled.
“If I lied I could not have called the hunt, and pronounced you kin slayer. The hunt will not come if the vengeance is not righteous.”

Sholto then steps into the conversation to help prove Merry’s point, to which Eluned responds with insults. Sholto throws out a “I am king and you are not” and then starts to call his dark magic around him out of anger. Merry realizes that if Sholto loses himself in anger, the hunt may permanently entrap him, so she grabs his arm to help calm him, which of course works. Merry remembers how not too long ago Sholto had been mutilated by several members of the Seelie when he was tricked into sex, however with Merry’s help he was able to heal. As a way to prove their power, Sholto strips off his shirt to reveal to the Seelie that they did no permanent harm to him.

Eluned starts shouting about how Sholto is a nightmare, but then one of the Seelie guards who was swept up into the hunt calls out that Eluned is just trying to distract them so that Cair can possibly escape.

“She is my only child,” she said, in a voice that was not so sure of itself.
“And she has killed your only mother,” he said.
She turned and looked at her daughter, who was still pressed against the wall in a circle of white mastiffs, with our horses at the front of the circle.
“Why, Cair?” Not “how could you?” but simply “why?”
Cair’s face showed a different kind of fear now. It wasn’t fear of the dogs pressing so closely. She looked at her mother’s face, almost desperately. “Mother.”
“Why?” her mother said.
“I have heard you deny her in this court day after day. You called her a useless brownie who had deserted her own court.”
“That was talk for the other nobles, Cair.”
“You never said differently in private with me, Mother. Aunt Besaba says the same. She is a traitor to this court for leaving, first to live with the Unseelie, then to live among the humans. I have heard you agree with such words all my life. You said you took me to visit her because it was duty. Once I was old enough to have a choice, we stopped going.”

Eluned tells Cair that she still visited her mother in private, but never told Cair because she realized Cair’s ambition was too great to have any love for her grandmother. She turns to Merry and asks if her mother knew who betrayed her before she died, to which Merry responds that she did know. Eluned makes up her mind and tells Merry that she will not stand in the way of Merry’s vengeance. Cair begins freaking out, screaming for her mother, to which Eluned responds “I have no daughter.”

Respect.

So Cair turns to another of the Seelie in the room. She shouts out for “Lord Finbar” to help her, and the entire room turns to look at the tall sidhe who’s in the throng of people attempting to guard the king. Merry points out that Finbar had never been an ally to Merry’s family, so she’s unsure why Cair would call out for him. Cair continues to try for his attention. “Lord Finbar, you promised.” Finbar denies this, calling Cair deranged.

Merry tries to get him to swear an oath to her that he did not have anything to do with Gran’s death, but Finbar refuses on the basis that she is not yet his queen and doesn’t owe her anything. So Sholto tries to get Finbar to swear an oath to him, since he is king of the sluagh and the current Huntsman, in control of the wild hunt. Finbar still refuses.

So after all this grandstanding, which just proves that Finbar is lying about Cair lying, Cair just tells them all what she and Finbar had planned. Finbar knew that Cair could get close enough to place the spell on Gran, and that if Cair did what he asked, Finbar would allow Cair to marry his son, Barris.

“I know what you hoped to gain, Cair, but what did Finbar hope to gain by the deaths of my men?”
“He wanted to strip you of your most dangerous consorts.”
“Why?” I asked, and I felt strangely calm.
“So that the Seelie nobles could control you once you were queen.”

She continues to tell them that once Doyle, Sholto, and Frost were out of the way, Merry’s other men would likely allow the Seelie to assume control. This is because Rhys was once a Seelie and they all assumed he’d gladly be accepted again into the golden court, Galen is too much of a pushover and would just give in immediately, and Mistral… Well, he’s got another thing coming.

So Merry tries to get Cair to tell them what they have planned for Mistral. Cair doesn’t give a shit, she knows she’s dead whether she tells them or not, so she’s of no use to Merry. So Merry turns to Barris, asking him if he wants to survive the night. After a bunch of back and forth, Barris finally admits that they found someone to lure him out into the open, where archers are planted to shoot him full of iron arrows. Merry wants more details, and Barris tells her, off-page, that is, so while LKH tried to make it somewhat suspenseful, I’m just happy I don’t have to read nineteen “emotion” filled pages of this conversation anymore.

So finally Merry’s gonna kill Cair. Sholto hands her a spear he just randomly happens to now have, and Cair begins begging for her life, despite having just resigned to die in order to refuse to tell Merry what the Seelie were going to do to Mistral. Merry shoves the spear through Cair, hard enough to come out the other side. Cair stares at her, wide-eyed, and Merry jerks the spear backwards, twisting it. Cair falls to the floor and as she does, the force of gravity helped the spear pull free of her body.

Sholto takes the spear from Merry and the chapter ends with them and the hunt riding out of the sithen in order to go rescue Mistral.

IMPORTANT

Gonna continue to harp on the importance of arresting the motherfucking cops who murdered Breonna Taylor.

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