Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 25: When arguing with a faerie mirrors current political discourse in America

So, I’m over halfway through this book now (Kindle says 61% complete). I’m praying that the following chapters are super short, because there’s 48 chapters in this book and I just cannot deal with anymore chapters of nothing actually happening. These mirror-conversation chapters have always been full of nonstop bickering and they’re just not fun to read.

Anyway, chapter 25 begins with Merry’s mother appearing in the mirror.

Sholto sat on the throne, as befitted the king. I sat on his lap, which lacked a certain dignity, but we thought it might get the point across that I was having a good time. Of course, when someone doesn’t want to understand, nothing you can do will make them see the truth. My mother had always been excellent at seeing only what she wished to see.

Sounds like what’s going on in America right now.

“I do not need rescuing, Mother, as you well know.”
“How can you say that? You are Seelie sidhe, and they have taken you from us.”
“They have taken nothing that the Seelie valued. If you speak of the chalice, then all who can hear my voice know that chalice goes where the Goddess wills it, and she has willed it to me.”
“It is a sign of great favor among the Seelie, Meredith. You must come home and bring the chalice, and you will be queen.”
“Taranis’s queen, you mean?” I asked.
She smiled happily. “Of course.”
“He raped me, Mother.” Doyle moved a little closer to me, though he was quite close to begin with. I reached out to him without thinking so that he held my hand, even while I sat in Sholto’s lap.
“How can you say such things? You bear his twins.”
“They are not his children. I am with the fathers of my twins.”
Mistral moved nearer the chair. He did not reach out for me, because I was out of hands, one in Doyle’s hand, and one on Sholto’s arm. He simply moved closer, to help me emphasize my point, I think.
“Lies. Unseelie lies.”
“I am not queen of the Unseelie yet, Mother. I am queen of the sluagh.”
She settled the stiff, rich sleeves of her gown, and harrumphed at me. “Again, falsehoods,” she said.

This seriously sounds like every single “argument” I’ve tried to have with my MAGA relatives.

So they continue arguing for a bit, bringing up Cair’s betrayal, Gran’s death, etc. I’m sick of that plot line, so I’m not going to bother repeating it. I’m pretty sure you all are too.

“You have two babies, but three men. Who is to be left out?” She was retreating from the harshest truths to concentrate on smaller things. Not a question about the rape, or the traitors whom the wild hunt had helped us destroy, but the math of fathers and babies.
“The history of the sidhe is full of goddesses who had children by more than just one man, Mother. Clothra is the one most oft named, but there have been others. Apparently, I will need many kings, not just one.”
“You have been bespelled, Meredith. All know that the King of the sluagh is a great one for glamour.” She was back to her certainties. Sometimes I wondered why I tried with her. Oh, she was my mother. I suppose we never quite give up on parents. Maybe they feel the same way about us.
“Faerie itself has made us a couple, Mother.” I unbuttoned my tight-fitting cuff, and rolled it back as much as the coat would would allow, which was not much. Sholto’s sleeve was looser, so that more of his rose and thorn tattoo showed, but enough showed to prove that the tattoos were a pair.
She shook her head. “You can get a tattoo at any human shop.”

Merry has had it with her mother’s purposeful ignorance, so she stands up and walks over to the table where they placed the weapons given to them by the skeleton brides. She questions whether she should try to convince her mother through fear of her hands of power and the sword given to her. Since trying to reason her way into making her mother believe her has failed, she thinks fear is her only option.

I wrapped my hand around the hilt of the sword. I was afraid of it. Afraid of what it could do in my hands. The hand of flesh was a terrible power. With this sword I could use that power from a distance, and no one could take it from my hand without risking the very horror that they were trying to avoid.
I walked back to the mirror with the sword held in one hand like you would hold a flag. I stood in front of Sholto, and held the sword before me.
“Do you know this sword, Mother? Does anyone within sight of this mirror know this sword?”
She frowned, and I was willing to bet that she wouldn’t know it. Mother never cared for Unseelie power. But someone in the tent would know it, of that I was almost certain.
It was Lord Hugh who walked into view. He actually gave a little bow before he peered more closely at the mirror. He paled. That was answer enough; he knew it.
He spoke, hoarsely. “Aben-dul. So the sluagh stole that as well.” But he didn’t believe it.
I reached my free hand back to Sholto. He took my hand and came to stand beside me. The moment his tattooed arm touched mine, the magic flexed, as if the air itself took a breath. The herb crown wove itself to life while the Seelie watched. The herb ring on his finger bloomed white, and his crown bloomed in a haze of pastel flowers. We stood crowned by faerie itself before them.
“This is King Sholto of the sluagh, crowned by faerie itself to rule. I am Queen Meredith of the sluagh, and I bear his child, his heir.”
I let the hand holding Aben-dul drop to my side. “Hear me, Mother Besaba, and all the Seelie listening to my voice. The old magic is returning. The Goddess moves among us once more. You can either move with her power, or be left out of it. It is your choice. But it is truth that is needed, no more lies, no more illusions. Think well upon that before you decide to try to take me back by force.”

Her mother tries pulling the “are you threatening me??” argument, but thankfully Lord Hugh steps in and starts to control the conversation. He tells Merry that Taranis has ordered them not to return without Merry and the chalice. That, essentially, they would be exiled from the Seelie mound unless they did Taranis’s bidding.

Hugh is then told that the police are on their way to the sluagh mound and realizes the game Merry played to keep the Seelie from retrieving her. He tells Merry that the Seelie will retreat and allow her to pass, because not even Taranis would allow the Seelie to be banished for attacking the humans. He would understand the reason they could not retrieve Merry and not exile them for it.

The mirror calls ends with Merry hearing her mother arguing with Lord Hugh that they cannot leave Merry with the sluagh. Once it ends, they all basically breathe a sigh of relief. Sholto and Doyle tell Merry that she did a good job controlling the conversation, and that her father would have been proud. The chapter then ends with Merry thinking on how much it means to know her father would have been proud of her actions there, and also declaring her mother dead to her.

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