Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 20: Queen Garbage

Chapter 20 begins with the huge nightflyer proxy king wrapping his hands around the ancient horn Doyle was holding. His expression is all confident, and he turns to Merry and Co to be all smug about taking Doyle’s weapon, when he suddenly whispers “No”.

Then he started to scream. He screamed, and shrieked, and the sound echoed in the chamber. He collapsed to the sand, the horn still in his grasp, as if he couldn’t let it go. He rolled on the ground, writhing and screaming. It destroyed his mind while we watched.
When he was still except for a few twitches, Doyle walked to him. He knelt and took the black horn out of the would-be king’s hand. The hand was limp, and did not fight to hold it now.
Doyle took the horn, and slipped the strap across his bare chest. He looked around at the assembled sluagh and spoke, his deep voice carrying. “It is the horn of the dark moon. The horn of the hunter. The horn of madness. It was mine once long ago. Only the huntsman of the wild hunt may touch it, and only when the magic of the hunt is upon him.”
Someone actually called out, “Then how do you hold it?”
“I am the huntsman. I am always the huntsman.” I wasn’t entirely certain that I understood what Doyle meant by that, but it seemed to satisfy the crowd. I could ask for more details later or not. He may have given the only answer he had.

I thought Sholto was the huntsman that night? And I thought the hunt had ended?

There was one more skeletal lady on the stairs. She carried a cloak of feathers across her arms. She walked, not to us, but across the sand to where Tarlach lay in a heap on the ground. I started to go to him, but Sholto grabbed my arm. Wait, he seemed to say, and he was right. Though knowing that I could call the chalice and possibly save Tarlach made it hard to watch the slow, stately progress of the skeleton in her graceful dress.

Okay, so Merry can now call the chalice at will and use it to save anyone? Then why the fuck was she so stressed about having to go to extraordinary lengths to save Mistral or Doyle before? She’s now capable of healing someone in like eight different ways, so why all the nonsense in the earlier chapters?

So the skeletal lady lays the feather cloak over Tarlach and he starts moving. He stands up and then launches himself into the sky and transforms into a goose. All the other nightflyers follow him and transform into geese in the air. After a bit, they all land and are transformed back to their normal nightflyer selves.

Tarlach said, “We will not need the glamour of the king to hide us when we hunt. We can hide ourselves.” He bowed in his liquid way, and the other nightflyers followed him. They knelt like a hundred giant manta rays kneeling without knees, but somehow all the more graceful for it.

It takes a lot of weird mental gymnastics to imagine a manta ray KNEELING, and I’ve got a way overactive imagination.

So this super short chapter ends with all the nightflyers shouting out “King Sholto! Queen Meredith” and I guess the sluagh have accepted both as their rulers now. Queen Meredith of the garbage people no one even cares about or takes seriously. Awesome.

I hate this stupid book.

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