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Meredith Gentry Series #5
Mistral's Kiss

by Laurell K. Hamilton

p.5 A woman stood behind me, so close that when the wind blew through the dead trees her hooded cloak brushed against the hem of my gown. I formed my lips to say, Who? but never finished the word. She held out a hand that was wrinkled and colored with age, but it was a small, slender hand, still lovely, still full of quiet strength. Not full of the remnants of youthful strength, but full of the strength that comes only with age. A strength born of knowledge accumulated, wisdom pondered over many a winter's night. Here was someone who held the knowledge of a lifetime--no, several lifetimes.
     The crone, the hag, has been vilified as ugly and weak. But that is not what the true crone aspect of the Goddess is, and it was not what I saw. She smiled at me, and that smile held all the warmth you would ever need. It was a smile that held a thousand fireside chats, a hundred dozen questions asked and answered, endless lifetimes of knowledge collected and remembered. There was nothing she would not know, if only I could think of the questions to ask.

p.32 "None of us has told the younger ones, Queen Andais," Doyle said. "Everyone knows that out followers painted themselves with symbols and went into battle with only those symbols to shield them."
     "The eventually learned to wear armor," Andais said. Her arm had lowered enough for Mistral to be comfortable on his knees again.
     "Yes, and only the last few fanatical tribes kept trying to seek our favor and blessing. They died for that devotion," Doyle said.
     "What are you talking about?" I asked.
     "Once we, the sidhe, their gods, were painted with symbols that were signs of blessing from the Goddess and the God. But as our power faded, so did the marks upon our bodies." Doyle said it all in his thick-as-molasses voice."
     "It is faint and incomplete," the queen said from the far wall.
     "Yes." Rhys nodded and looked at her. "But it is a beginning."

p.47 Mistral raised his mouth from mine and half whispered, half groaned, "Fuck her, fuck her, fucker, please," and the last word was drawn out into a long sigh that ended in something close to a scream.
     Abeloec pushed himself inside me, and only then did he begin to throb with power. It was almost like some huge vibrator, except this vibrator was warm and alive, and had a mind and a body behind it.

p.120 Segna reached out to him. She spoke in a voice that was thick and bubbling with her own blood, "My lord, mercy."
     He raised his face, but kept his hair like a shield on either side, so only I, kneeling beside him, could see the tracks of tears on his face. His voice came clear and unemotional; you would never have known the pain in his eyes from the voice. "Do you ask for healing, or for death, Segna?"
     "Healing," she managed to say.
     He shook his head. "Get her off the bones." He looked at Fyfe. "Go help them."
     Fyfe hesitated for a moment then slid, carefully, down the slope to join his brother in the still, thick water. The three of them managed to slide Segna free of most of the bones. One of them seemed caught on Segna's own ribs, and Agnes snapped that spine so that they could lower her into their arms. She was writhing in pain, and coughing blood.
     Agnes raised a tearstained face. "We are not the people we once were, King Sholto. She dies."
     Segna reached a shaking hand out to him. "Mercy."
     "We cannot save you, Segna. I am sorry," said Sholto, for it now seemed clear that this was the case.
     "Mercy," she said again.
     Agnes said, "There is more than one kind of mercy, Sholto. Would you leave her to a slow death?" Her voice managed to be both tear-choked and hot with hatred. Such words should burn coming out.

p.165 "Don't tell me I have to get back in that lake," he said. "If she's touched with the magic of creation, let her create a bridge."
     I didn't wait. I said, "I want a bridge to the shore." A graceful white bridge appeared, just like that.
     "Cool," Rhys said. "Let's go."

p.170 Doyle was at Frost's side. "How badly are you hurt?"
     "We do not need to tend to my wounds," Frost said. He wouldn't look at Doyle, or an y of us. He arranged his face in that arrogant mask, the one that made him impossibly handsome, and as cold as his namesake. But the terrible wounds on the right side of that face ruined the mask. It was like a chink in armor; he could not hide behind it.
     "Nor do we have time to lose my strong right arm," Doyle said, "not if there is time to save it."
     Frost looked at him, surprise showing through the mask. I wondered if Doyle had never, in all these long years, called Frost the strong right arm of the Darkness. The look on his face suggested so. And maybe it was as close as Doyle would come to apologizing for abandoning him to fight with Agnes in order to save me. Hand Frost thought Doyle left him behind on purpose?
     A world of emotion seemed to pass between the two men. If they'd been human men, they might have exchanged some profanity or sports metaphor, which is what seems to pass for terms of deepest affection between friends. But they were who they were, and Doyle said, simply, "Remove enough weapons so we can see the wound." He smiled when he said it, because of all the guards Frost would be the one carrying the most weapons, with Mistral a distant second.

p.211 "Use glamour to hide your appearance," Sholto said. "I have sent for taxis. They will arrive very soon."
     "What magic is it," I asked, "that lets you find taxis in L.A. at a moment's notice?"
     "I am the Lord of That Which Passes Between, Merry, and taxis are always going between one place and another."

p.212 "Everybody remember that the glamour is supposed to hide the fact that we're naked, and bloody," Rhys said. Anyone who doesn't have enough glamour to pull it off, stand next to someone who does."
     "Yes, Teacher," I said.
     He grinned at me. "I can cause death with a touch and a word; I can heal wounds with my hands for tonight. But damn, conjuring this many taxis out of thin air--now, that's impressive."