Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 38: Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

Chapter 38 begins with Merry walking through the forest with 8 now healed soldiers following her. A sidhe warrior appeared from the shadow of the forest, and Merry, without even thinking, orders the solders to kill him. The soldiers immediately comply, even though Merry realizes afterward that they shouldn’t have done that and should instead have listened to their commanding officer, Dawson. Whoops!

As they move their way through the forest, more soldiers begin joining their group. Merry is somehow able to spread her glamour over the entire group, masking them from their enemies and also protecting them from the illusions that Cel’s group is casting to attempt to frighten the humans.

Merry, trying not to step on Dawson’s shoes anymore, orders him to order his men to shoot all the sidhe wearing armor, since her men were not. Dawson does just that, so we get another fun bout of telephone to read through.

So, even though all of Cel’s men are immortal sidhe wearing magical powered armor, they’re all falling to the soldier’s guns. It’s hard to call something immortal when it happens to be killed by regular fucking bullets.

They come across one of Cel’s soldiers who isn’t wearing armor, and Merry’s soldier’s bullets seem to do nothing to her as well.

Dilys stood, all in yellow, glowing like she had swallowed flame, and it had filled her skin and her hair, and blazed out of her eyes. She wore no armor of any kind. Her dress looked as if she were expecting to walk down some marble staircase to a ball. But where the warriors fell, their magical armor pierced by human ingenuity, she stood. The bullets seemed to hit a wavering glow, like heat off a summer road. The bullets hit, hesitated, then melted, in little spurts of orangey light.
“What is she?” Dawson asked, beside me.
“Magic,” I said. “She is magic.”
“What kind of magic?” Hayes asked.
“Heat, light, sun. She’s a goddess of the summer heat.” I’d always wondered what she’d been before she fell from grace. Most of the really powerful ones hid their pasts, some out of shame for power lost, others for fear of enemies who had retained more power settling old scores. But as I had returned Siobhan’s illusions to her, so apparently I had given Dilys, or whatever her real name was, back her heat.

Way to fucking go, Merry.

I called, “Dilys, we are all Unseelie. We should not be killing each other.”
She spoke in a voice that held an edge of roar, and I realized it was the sound of some great fire, as if her very words burned. “You say that because your human weapons cannot harm me.”

Point Dilys.

Also, it sucks to type Dilys. Like, my hands to not naturally want to move like that. I hate her name so much.

You needed water and heat for life. Where was her mate? Where was her balance? The ring on my hand pulsed once. It had been known as the Queen’s Ring for centuries. Andais had given it to me to show her favor. But she was a thing of destruction and war only. I was life as well as death; I was balance. The ring had once belonged to a goddess of love and fertility. Andais had taken it from the Goddess’s dead finger.
Death should never take the tools of life, because it won’t know how to use them. But I knew.
There was a rain of pink petals around me and my soldiers. The ring pulsed harder, hot against my finger. Something moved at the edge of the clearing. A white figure limped out from among the trees. It was Crystall. The last time I’d seen him, he’d been in the queen’s bed, being tortured to a red ruin. One of the serious downsides to being immortal and being able to heal from almost anything was that if you fell into the hands of a sexual sadist, the “fun” could last a very long time.
She picked him as her victim because he’d been one of the guards who had tried to answer my call. He would have come to L.A. with me, but Andais declared that she could not lose all her guard to me. So she punished those who had to stay but did not wish to stay. She wasn’t getting volunteers to take the place of the guards who had come to me. She’d been too harsh a mistress for too long. The men knew what to expect, and they just weren’t signing up. That had made her even worse to the men she still had. Crystall showed that as he moved into the clearing.

So, what I want to know is where Crystall came from. If the last time Merry saw him was in Andais’s bed – which was probably only a few days ago – how did he get from there to here? Did Merry’s magic call to him? Did the ring?

Dilys starts taunting Merry, telling her that her bloodline is corrupt. Despite, you know, Cel being more of Andais’s blood than Merry. Dilys asks Merry if she’s going to help Crystall, who is crawling toward them in obvious pain.

Dilys yelled at me, “Aren’t you going to help him, Princess?”
“He’s not here for me.”
“You speak in riddles,” she said.
Crystall continued his agonizingly slow crawl across the field with its dead and wounded. But it was clear now that he wasn’t aiming for me. He was crawling inexorably toward that golden glow.
“Do not let him throw his life away, Meredith. If he tries to harm me in this condition, I will destroy him.”
“He’s not here to harm you, Dilys,” I said.
“Why else is he here but to save you and your humans?”
Crystall had reached the edge of the golden light, but had not quite touched it. The light, like sunlight will, sparkled through his skin and hair as if he were made of his namesake, crystal. Her light caught rainbows along his body. Small, winking colored lights, to chase back the dark.

I like how LKH has to spell out to us what his namesake is, as if her readers are too stupid to put 2 and 2 together. Crystall, gee, I wonder what his namesake would be! Fuck authors who assume their audience is too stupid to understand their deep symbolism.

“What magic is this?” Dilys asked, but her voice was not the burning thing it had been.
Crystall stood, and walked into that light. His body began to glow, like sunlight on water, or the reflected light on diamonds. He moved into her sunlight, and reflected it, making it a thing of beauty.

Also, I’ve noticed this a lot more, but whenever LKH tries to describe something in simile or metaphor, she tends to give multiple examples: glow like sunlight on water, or the reflected light on diamonds. Again, does she assume her audience is too stupid to understand what she’s describing? Or does she think that one comparison alone isn’t enough to describe how amazing a thing she’s trying to describe?

Crystall was almost within touching distance of her golden, glowing form. He stood there, tall and lithe, his body lined with muscles, but lean like a runner. He had always had a delicate strength. He was like a jewel thrown into the sun, gleaming with rainbows from the tips of his hair to every inch of bare skin. The wounds had closed, as if just being near her power had healed him.
She looked…frightened. “I am no healer, but he is healed. How is this possible?”
Crystall held his hand out to her.
“What does he want?” she yelled, and the fear was plain in her voice. “Take his hand, and you’ll know.”
“It’s a trap,” she said.
“I wear the queen’s ring, Dilys. I saw you burning with the heat of the summer sun, and thought, ‘Where is her balance?’ Where is her coolness to keep her from burning everything to death?”

Ahh, so it WAS a combination of Merry’s power and the ring’s power which brought Crystall from… where ever he had been. It must have instantly teleported him there. Stupid.

Crystall simply held his hand out to her, as if he could hold that shining hand out forever.
Then her golden hand began to move, as if of its own accord. Her fingertips brushed his, and the golden heat became half silver, and I saw the waver of heat meet the sparkle of water in front of them, like the sun on the surface of a summer lake.
Then they were in each other’s arms. They kissed as if they had always kissed, though I knew they had not. He had never been her lover, her god to goddess, but he was what was left. He was the coolness she needed, and I had called what I could find.

I like that LKH used the sunlight on water simile again.

Anyway, all the human soldiers around Merry stare at the couple with total awe, and Merry is basically glowing. Then, they hear a shriek from the far side of the field. It’s Cel, and he’s flipping the fuck out, surrounded by what’s left of his solders. Merry notices that his soldiers are carrying something… someone… someone darker than night.

Merry can’t tell if Doyle is alive or dead, and when she whispers his name he doesn’t even react. She goes completely cold, and the chapter ends with Merry declaring war on her cousin Cel and his followers.

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