Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 24: Fashion Show!

Chapter 24 starts with a fashion show. We get descriptions of what everyone is wearing for the call with mother. I hate reading lengthy descriptions of clothing in regular books, so it’s just that much more grating in this series.

Mistral is in a rich blue jacket with a wide collar lined with gray fur. The coat billowed around him when he moved. It also was covered in gray fur in a wide line down the back. It perfectly matched his hair and eyes. He’s also shirtless, because none of Sholto’s shirts fit his wide shoulders.

Doyle is in a red jacket that looks like a modern, human suit coat. He also wore crimson colored pants and a gray silk shirt. His long black hair was braided with red ribbons woven throughout.

Doyle notices that the jacket the seamstress, Mirabella, gave Mistral seems to fit him like it was made for him.

Sholto said, “Mirabella, did you make this for Mistral?”
She didn’t look at her king, but continued to fuss with the coat, which was almost more of a robe.
“I told you of my dream, Your Highness.”

Are you kidding me.

Oh, wait, turns out it wasn’t the dream. Mirabella knew that the Seelie would be seeing her work, so she was trying to create a narrative that her mystical powers allowed her to create fashion that fit perfectly. She apparently stayed up all night to sew jackets for Mistral and Doyle.

Except they didn’t know about this call the night before. From what I’m reading, this chapter happens not too long after the previous one. So who even fucking knows at this point.

A few pages later, we’re still talking fashion. Apparently Merry now has some boots, which were given to her by a leprechaun. Well, they were given to Mirabella to give to Merry by a leprechaun. Who apparently wants to date Mirabella.

“Tully has courted me for a hundred years. He has been gentle, and he’s never gotten above himself with me, unlike some I could name.”
“Taranis,” I said. I said the name without feeling anything. Parts of me were still a little numb, and that was probably a good thing.
She glared at me, then her face softened. “If I am not too presumptuous, Queen Meredith, I heard what he did to you, and I am most heartily sorry. He should have been stopped years ago.”
“I take it he tried his version of courting with you.”
“Courting.” She almost spat the word. “No, in the midst of a fitting he tried to take me by force. I had been invited into faerie with the promise of safety and honor. He had to drop all the illusions on his person for fittings, so his magic that made all the women see him as beautiful did not work on me. I knew that he was getting a little soft around the middle. I knew all the flaws in his illusions. I had truth on my side, and he could not seduce me with magic.”
“You were probably also holding pins and needles made of cold steel,” Doyle said.
She looked at him, then nodded. “You are correct. The very tools of my trade kept me from falling into his trap. In his rage, he cut off my right arm.” She held up the tentacled limb. It moved gracefully in the air, like some underwater creature found on land. “Then he had me driven out of his sithen, because a one-armed seamstress was useless to him.”

Turns out, Mirabella was a human who was taken into the Seelie mound and had been there for fifty years before Taranis did this, so had she been kicked out of the mound she would have instantly aged fifty years. Some of the Seelie felt bad for what Taranis tried to do, so they petitioned Queen Andais to allow Mirabella to transfer to the Unseelie sithen. Andais turned her away, and it was Sholto who took her in. Once she arrived in the sluagh mound, the doctor, Henry, was able to replace her lost arm with a tentacle kindly donated by one of the nightflyers. Merry tries to question how Henry was able to keep the tentacle from being rejected, totally forgetting that they exist in a magic faerie realm and anything is possible.

Mirabella wanted Merry and co to look good because she wanted to send a pointed message to Taranis. She wanted him to know that even after what he did to her, she managed to be the best seamstress in faerie. She also wants more commissions, because unfortunately most of the residents of the sluagh mound have no use for clothes.

I kept hearing stories that Taranis had once been a hard-drinking, hard-loving, manly man, but I’d never seen it. There wasn’t enough reality left to my uncle for that now. Once he would have trusted his powers of seduction to get me into his bed. In fact, before he used magic to rape me, I would have said that he would never have believed that I would refuse him. His self-confidence was legendary. What had I done to make him think that his illusions could not win me?
“Why did Taranis use a spell to rape me, rather than trust his own attractiveness? I mean, his ego is huge. Why would he not believe that I would say yes eventually?”
“Maybe he didn’t feel that there was time,” Sholto said.
“He meant to keep me, Sholto. He should have felt that there was time enough.”
“What are you asking, Meredith?” Doyle asked.
“I just find it curious that he used a spell so much different than his usual ones on me. He’s nearly rolled over me with his attractive illusions all the way to Los Angeles in a mirror call. But this time he raped me almost as any man might. It doesn’t seem like him.”

So the chapter ends with everyone wondering why Taranis’s illusions are fading, and then doing a few last-minute preparations for the mirror call. Thrilling stuff.

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