Chapter 34 begins with the soldiers in the Humvees shouting about the injured soldiers in the street. They’re seeing soldiers who they knew were killed in previous deployments and couldn’t actually be laying in the street injured. Turns out, one of Siobhan’s hands of power is the ability to bring back the “shadows of the dead”. Rhys mentions that he thought she had lost that power, so obviously Merry’s influence over faerie is over everyone, not just her supporters.
The dead soldiers begin “shooting” at the live soldiers in, which makes the live soldiers return fire. Except, the bullets aren’t hitting the dead soldiers, they’re somehow being redirected to hit other LIVE soldiers.
Doyle orders the soldiers to return to their vehicles, but Rhys doesn’t think that will stop the illusions they’re seeing. The soldiers are too far gone into illusion now. Gregorio tells them that her orders are to protect Merry and her men, not the soldiers, but then she hears screams over the radio and asks Dawson what’s going on with the other Humvee. All the soldiers are now bleeding from old wounds that they thought had healed – being affected by one of Cel’s hands of power.
I sat there in the Humvee with my death grip on them both, and couldn’t think. Maybe the last several days, or months, were finally catching up with me. I was frozen with indecision. The human soldiers had no chance against this, but it was a trap for us, which meant that Cel and his allies had plans to stop anything we could do. I’d dueled enough of the people with him when Cel was trying to kill me legally. I knew their powers, and some were fierce.
“Shoot them,” I said. “The sidhe are not proof against bullets.”
“We can’t shoot at a royal prince and his guard unless they attack us with something we can see and testify to in court,” Gregorio said.
“Cel can bleed most of you to death without ever lifting a weapon,” I said, leaning forward as far as the seat belt would allow.
“But we can’t prove he’s doing it,” she said. “You’ve never tried to prove a magic attack in a military court. I have. It ain’t pretty.”
“Would you rather they all die?” I asked.
“We can help them, Meredith,” Doyle said.
I turned to him. “That’s what he wants, Doyle. You know that. He’s hurting the soldiers to lure us out.”
Of course it’s a trap, and of course Doyle goes over Merry’s demands to march right into the trap. Merry keeps telling them not to leave her, not to exit the safety of the Humvee, but nope. Doyle knows best. Doyle and Rhys both kiss her for what they probably assume is their final time, because they both make a huge show of it, leaving Gregorio breathless.
The door opened behind me, and I turned in time to see Doyle sliding out. I whispered, “If I am your queen, then I can order you to stay.”
Doyle leaned back in the doorway. “I vowed never again to listen to humans die screaming for my cause, Meredith.”
“You are now and always will be my Merry.” Then he was gone.
Rhys also leaves, following Doyle out, because Doyle is his captain and of course he cannot abandon his captain, even when Merry pleads for them to stay.
I held his hand against my cheek. “Don’t go.”
“Know that I love you more than honor, but Doyle wouldn’t be Doyle if he felt the same way.”
The first tear trailed, hot and painful, down my face as he drew his hand away. I held on to him with both hands on his one. “Rhys, please, for the love of the Goddess, please!”
“I love you Merry. I’ve loved you since you were sixteen.”
Anyway, the chapter ends with Rhys telling Merry he’ll do his best to not die, and he exits the vehicle.