Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 19: The Bone Parade

Chapter 19 starts with the new tattoos on Merry and Sholto’s wrists flaring to life, and the room filling with the scent of herbs and roses. Merry once again feels mistletoe growing in her hair. Then, rose petals begin to rain down from above. It makes the fighting stop, ever so briefly, and Merry has a little hope that it would end outright, but lol when has that ever happened.

There were screams. “Sidhe! They are sidhe!” Others screamed “Betrayed! We are betrayed!”
Doyle was at my back, and I think he was talking to Sholto. “We need weapons.”
I raised my face to the fall of white petals, felt them hit my face like soft blows. I spoke to the air. “We need weapons.”
Sholto had the spear of bone and the dagger in his hand. I stood separate from him, unarmed. The ground underfoot shuddered, then began to split open. Doyle and Mistral grabbed me, pulled me back, but I wasn’t afraid. I could feel the power of the sithen revving like the great magical engine that it was.
The opening widened, then stopped. It was a spiral staircase as white and shining as any in the Seelie Court, leading down into the ground. The banister was formed of human bones, and larger bones of things that had never been humanoid.

The entire room falls silent again, and Merry hears sounds like soft footsteps below the spiral staircase. The footsteps get louder, and eventually a figure emerges carrying a large white sword.

The figure was tall, as tall as any sidhe. It looked at us with a skull for a face, hidden behind a gauzy veil. Empty eye sockets stared at me. It turned to Sholto, and offered the sword.
He hesitated for a second, then reached for the hilt. He brushed the skeletal hands, but did not seem to mind. The figure walked through the growing puddle of petals, the long trailing gown like some macabre wedding dress. She, for it was a she, stood to one side and waited.
The next figure looked like a duplicate of the first: all white, all bone, that gauzy veil in front of the skull face. This one offered a woven white belt and scabbard. Sholto took them, fastening the belt around his waist and sheathing the sword.
A third skeletal figure came out, but this one held a shield, as white as the sword. The shield was carved with figures of skeletons and tentacled beasts. If I hadn’t seen the sluagh in their wildest form, I’d have mistaken the animals for great sea beasts, but I knew better now.
The skeleton bride offered the shield to Sholto. He took it, and once it was on his arm, the sithen roared around us. It was a sound, not just inside the head for magic, but as if the sithen were some great beast.
I would have thought that the parade of weapons was over, but I could see more of the figures on the stairs. The curve kept me from seeing how many, but I knew there were more.

I like how the entire sluagh who are raring for a good fight are just standing there while Merry’s crew suits up for battle. Just kill them already, put us out of our misery!

So a figure approaches Merry, handing her a pale, flesh colored sword. Doyle tells her that it is a named blade, called Aben-dul, which contains the power of her hand of flesh.

The next figure approaches Mistral with a sparkly spear. The spear is also named, simply called Lightning, and it had previously belonged to King Taranis. Cool, another thing he can claim they stole.

Finally, the last figure approaches Doyle and hands him a black horn. As soon as Doyle places the horn around his chest, the nightflyer that had been made proxy king swoops down and reaches out for the horn. And the chapter ends with no one bothering to stop him.

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