Swallowing Darkness – Chapter 46: With His Last Dying Breath

Chapter 46 begins with Merry’s men fighting with Cel. Jonty sets Merry down on the ground next to the stag, and then he runs off to the battle. Merry realizes that her men aren’t fighting to kill Cel, they’re merely fighting to disarm/stop him, whereas Cel is fighting to kill. Merry shouts at her men to just fucking kill him already, which of course causes some of her men to become distracted and open to wounds from Cel.

Galen looked my way, and got a cut across his chest that made him stumble. Cel came in for the kill, and only Doyle’s sword kept the blow from falling. He’d drawn his sword at last. He drove Cel back with a whirring swordwork so that his blade moved to fast to follow with the eye, like the blade of some handheld electric thing. No one was that fast, no one but Doyle.

Well, I guess that’s one way to get out of describing a fight scene. Also “some handheld electric thing”? Descriptive!

So Cel and Doyle continue battling, and for some reason the entire crowd around them falls silent and motionless, like they’re lost in the beauty and awe of the battle. It is seriously Cel fighting all of Merry’s men, they should just overtake him and be done with this, but nope! Gotta let the two men brawl.

Andais runs onto the field, pleading with Doyle to spare Cel. This causes Doyle to hesitate for just a split second, and Cel tries to take advantage of that. Only Doyle is too fast, and manages to not only disarm Cel but force Cel to the ground with his sword at Cel’s throat.

Doyle holds that position for a while, and Andais starts moving across the field, heading toward them. Merry doesn’t want a repeat of what happened last time Andais came to Cel’s rescue, so she tries to stop her aunt.

“Andais, do you see the crown upon my head?”
She hesitated, then said “Yes.” The one word sighed and seemed to touch everyone on the field.
“What crown is it?”
Her hand tightened on the pommel of her sword, Mortal Dread, which could bring true death to anyone. “It is the Crown of Moonlight and Shadows. It was once my crown.” There was a bitterness to that last.
“Now it’s mine.”
“So it seems,” she said.

So you’d think that’d be the last of it, but nope. Turns out, Andais promised the crown to her son well before she even bothered forcing Merry out of hiding with the option of her becoming queen. And the sluagh and Sholto just happen to be standing to one side of the field. Oh, AND Merry now controls the Wild Hunt, who exist to kill oathbreakers. Whoops!

Andais asks if her being hunted would help save Cel’s life, but Merry tells her not a chance. Merry then orders the death of Cel before they start the hunt. Cel starts whining about how many allies he has still, but Merry shuts that down fast.

“Siobhan is dead, and your so-called allies fled when they could. The only one who came to save you is your mother. If she is dead, then I think, cousin, you will find that you have no allies left. They don’t follow you. They follow her.”
“They will not follow you, Meredith,” Cel said. “Crown, or no crown, if it is not me on the throne, then they will kill you and choose their own ruler. My spies have heard them plot this.”
I laughed, and finally looked down at Cel. Whatever he saw on my face widened his eyes, and made him catch his breath, as if he saw something that frightened him. “You never understood me, cousin, or you, my aunt,” I said. “I never wanted to rule. I know they hate me, and no matter how much power I show them, they will always seem em as the future of the sidhe. They see me as the diminished them. They see in me what they see in Sholto, that the sidhe grow weak. They would rather hide in their hollow hills and waste away than change and go outside to meet the world. I had hope for our people. My father had hope for our people.”
“His hope is what killed him,” Cel said.

A-what now?

So Merry circles in on what Cel just said – how would he know that hope killed her father? I mean, despite the fact that it’s super likely that he was killed because he hoped to change the Unseelie to be better than they were and someone took offense to that and murdered him to put a stop to it. Totally would never happen, right?

“I hadn’t seen you fight before. I didn’t understand how good you were.”
Cel tried to sit up, but Doyle’s sword point pushed him back down. “I am glad you finally understand that I could lead our people.”
“You killed him. You killed Prince Essus. You yourself. It’s why we couldn’t find an assassin. It’s why no matter how many people Andais torture they had nothing to tell us about my father’s death.”
He yelled, “She’s mad, Mother. You ordered me not to plot against my uncle. I obey you in all things.”
“But you didn’t plot,” I said. “You did it yourself. Because you were good enough with a blade, and because you knew he would hesitate. You knew my father loved you. You counted on it.”

Andais forces Cel to swear an oath that he didn’t kill Essus, her brother who she loved. Cel tries, and cannot, and eventually just forces out a weak “I swear by the wild hunt”, but doesn’t swear any specifics. This causes Andais to lose it, basically. Other than her son, Essus was the last sidhe who Andais had any love for, and learning that her son killed her brother breaks her.

Cel finally admits that he killed Essus. Then he turns to Merry and asks her if she wants to know what her father’s last words were. Merry shakes her head no, but Cel tells her anyway. Her father spent his last words telling Cel that he loved him. As Cel divulges this to Merry, he looses his power, and the chapter ends with Cel’s power washing over everyone, forcing everyone’s old wounds to start bleeding anew.

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