Chapter 22 begins with Doyle getting a nonmagical dagger and using it to contact Rhys. Faeries can use reflections to communicate, like video calls, and any sort of a reflection will do for some of the stronger faeries. While Doyle is calling Rhys to discuss their plans for exile, Merry is staring at the sword given to her by the bone brides.
The sword Aben-dul lay on the clean surface of Sholto’s big desk. The images that had appeared on its hilt were still there, frozen in whatever the hilt was made of. It felt like bone, but not quite. There was a woman’s nude body frozen in a miniature attitude of pain and horror, her face melting into the leg of the man above her.
The hand of flesh was one of the most terrible magics that the sidhe possessed. I’d used it only twice, and each time haunted me. If I’d used it on humans it might have been less awful, for they would have died if you turned them inside out. The sidhe did not. You had to find another way to bring them death while they screamed, and their internal organs glistened in the lights. Their heart beat in the open air, still attached by blood vessels and other bits and pieces.
The last person to wield the hand of flesh had been my father. But the sword on the desk had not reappeared to him. It had come to me. Why?
Maybe because you’re god-touched and the apple of the Goddess’s eye? Or it’s a convenient plot device that gets used only in this book and is promptly forgotten? Could be anything!
“Did the prince never demonstrate the power for you?” Mistral asked.
“I saw the enemy who the queen keeps in a trunk in her bedroom. I know my father made him into the… ball of flesh that he is.”
“Prince Essus did not agree with what the queen chose to do with… it,” Doyle said.
“Not it,” Sholto said. “Him. If it hadn’t been a him do you really think that the queen would have gotten him out of his trunk?”
The fuck does that even mean?
“Do you really think the queen spared the princess anything?”
“Andais spared her the worst of our humiliations,” Mistral said, “because Meredith had never seen her torture us as she did the night the princess saved us.” He took one of my hands in his, and gave me the look that I had earned at last. It was a look of respect, gratitude, and hope. It had been Mistral’s eyes that night, his glance at me, that had given me the courage to risk death to save them all from the queen. His eyes that night had said clearly that I was just another useless royal. I had done my best to prove him wrong.
I wondered if he knew that, and something moved me to tell him. “It was your eyes that night, Mistral, that made me risk death at the queen’s hands.”
He frowned. “You barely knew me then.”
“True, but you looked at me while she bled some of you and made the others watch. Your eyes told me what you thought of me, that I was just another useless royal.”
If LKH is just going to have the characters parrot back their thoughts in conversation, at least she could have used different descriptions. She basically just took the thought paragraph verbatim and made it dialogue. Such lazy fucking writing.
So the chapter ends with Mistral smiling up at Meredith, telling her with that smile how much she and her words meant to him.
Everyone thinks that the magic of being with all the men is about the otherworldliness of them and me, but some of the most precious moments are the ordinary. Moments that any man and woman could share, if they loved, and spoke the truth.
Did I love Mistral? In that moment, as he gazed up at me, I had only one answer: not yet.