Stalking Darkness (Lynn Flewelling, 1997) Study Guide: Chapters 48-52
Summary: Chapter 48 "A Narrowing of Proximities"
Mardus and Irtuk are feeling pretty cocky. Sure, Ashnazai is dead, but "he brought [it] upon himself," according to Mardus, and sure, "remarkable" Alec is gone, which is a shame, but other than that things are going according to plan. Thero is "subdued--most subdued." (446)
Micum spots Plenimaran scouts and heads out to meet Seregil on his return. He is delighted to find Alec with him, exhausted but safe. They make it back to Nysander where Alec tells his whole story, more coherently this time. He describes Thero's bravery and confesses that he enjoyed killing Ashnazai, which the others forgive him for under the circumstances. Nysander surmises hopefully that Irtuk must be magically drained after expending so much power lately. Seregil gives Alec his bow and arrows.
Micum and Seregil go out to scout while Alec sleeps and Nysander prepares spells or something; Seregil returns early to stroke Alec's hair because that is what you do when you are in love. He checks out his magical brand in Micum's shaving mirror and discovers that it's an evil sigla printed backwards. Nysander surmises that the backwards-ness gave the symbol an opposite effect and that's what saved Seregil from the crown's magic earlier.
Summary: Chapter 49 "Under the Black Sun"
Alec wakes up the next morning next to Seregil and recalls the kiss with embarrassment and confusion. He decides to put it out of his mind and does some bow maintenance (not like th...huh?) Nysander gives him four magic arrows which can pierce the skin of a dyrmagnos.
Seregil and Alec do some scouting. Seregil is a little alarmed at the savageness with which Alec swears to destroy Irtuk.
Nysander fits up the Four and their weapons with magical war-paint and performs a ceremony which gives them each a sigla on their palms, which permanently protects them from having their souls eaten by the Eater of Death when they die. Seregil is like, Great.
Meanwhile, Beka shudders.
The eclipse, tide, and ceremony begin. The Four quietly kill a group of perimeter guards and take their place. They all feel pretty terrible about watching sacrifices and doing nothing, but they know they have to wait for their best chance of success. Before they part ways, Seregil tells Alec to "Shoot true, talí," to which Alec replies "I will, talí."
Micum, and, seperately, Seregil and Nysander, sneak forward as the Helm is created amidst a whirl of magical goings-on. A "disturbance" in the direction of the camp distracts the bad guys momentarily, and Alec shoots Irtuk in the neck. His attempts to shoot Mardus fail as soldiers send a rain of arrows in his direction. In the confusion, Micum steps forward and slices up the wounded Irtuk. After killing some more guys, Micum realizes Irtuk is whole again and biting him. Alec sees this and pulls out his dagger.
Of course it was Beka's group who caused the disturbance at the camp, setting things on fire and freeing some people. They're about to leave when Beka sees Alec running down toward the battle and realizes her father is in there. Her troops advance.
Micum and Alec battle Irtuk somewhat unsuccessfully until a new hero suddenly rescues them: Beka! She and Alec hack up Irtuk and Alec scatters the parts so she can't reform while Beka sees to her injured father. She's confused. Micum calls her a "Vanguard." Alec returns with Beka's sergeant and with Thero, whom he begs to help Micum. He calls out for Seregil or Nysander, and Nysander's voice answers.
Summary: Chapter 50 "Vatharna"
Seregil and Mardus face off in a muddy basin. Mardus is bigger but slower, but Seregil's speed is impeded by the water, and he realizes he could actually lose, now that his own part in the prophecy is fulfilled. Just before Mardus can kill him, a wave knocks them both down. In the confusion Mardus snatches the helm. Seregil throws a knife into his chest just before he can put it on. They stumble woundedly, sniping at each other, until Seregil gets close enough to twist the knife, killing him.
Nysander pops up all Awesome job, now we just have to destroy the helm! Which apparently means that Nysander puts on the helm and Seregil kills him before he can become Vatharna. Seregil protests that he doesn't want to kill Nysander, not even like a little bit, but Nysander insists he must. As the transformation begins, Seregil manages to bring himself to strike, but afterward he feels sick about it. Cradling Nysander's dead body, he cries, "You knew!"
Summary: Chapter 51 "Farewells"
Watching Nysander's funeral pyre, Alec, Micum, Beka, and Thero cry, and Seregil cannot. As the others begin to wander off, Thero comes to Seregil to apologize for being a jerk to him all those years. Seregil thanks him for taking care of Alec. Thero also explains that Micum will be all right, but his leg will be bad forever. He leaves, and Micum encourages Alec to go comfort Seregil. He tries, but he's frightened by Seregil's emotionlessness. Finally Seregil says "I'm sorry for everything," and Alec assures him nobody blames him.
They sail to port. Before Beka leaves to rejoin her regiment, Micum tells her how proud he is. They fret about Alec and Seregil, what with the one being all sad and the other being all in love and powerless. As Beka leaves, Seregil is surprisingly normal and says kind words to her ("Trust either one of you [Beka or Micum] to show up when you're least expected and most needed. Luck in the shadows, Beka, and in the light." (481)) and Alec gives her a hug. She notices that he seems older. She tells him to bring Micum and Seregil to Watermead to heal. Seregil seems better on the journey back, but Alec still feels that he is different and distant.
Magyana meets them at Rhiminee. She takes Thero as her student, as Nysander wished. Rhal heads back out to do his privateering or whatever with the Green Lady. At Wheel Street, Valerius does some healing on Micum while Seregil leads Alec to the site of the Cockerel, which he has burned down. Seregil finds his cat and they take her with them, since they're never coming back.
Summary: Chapter 52 "Last Words"
Alec, Seregil, and Micum arrive at Watermead, to Kari's relief. Kari also notices that Alec seems older, "his innocence stripped from him." She reveals that she is in possession of Luthas, Cilla's baby, and she'll be raising him along with the new baby she's going to have soon.
Summer progresses. Seregil has sworn never to return to Rhiminee, and seems content to stay at Watermead indefinitely (not that Kari and Micum mind or anything). He acts all right in front of people, but Kari notices he seems to take pleasure in nothing. Alec recovers well, and works on the farm happily, but continues worried about Seregil. Somehow, Kari can tell they're not getting it on. Alec confides in her that Seregil is always writing something, but he won't show it to Alec, and Alec worries that he will end up a suicide like the other exiled Aurenfaie.
Kari has her baby too early, causing Micum to worry, but it turns out OK. Seregil names it.
At night, Seregil steals out of the house, leaving his will. He's left Alec a fortune.
Alec wakes up to the image of Nysander telling him "Go after him." He only has to read the first line of the will before he realizes what's happened, and rides out after Seregil. He soon finds him, knocks him off his horse and yells at him. They discuss Nysander; Alec says Nysander must be grateful to Seregil and Seregil should forgive him. Alec is determined that they shouldn't part. They say they love each other, and make out until Micum finds them, declaring he doesn't know whether to kiss Seregil or kick his ass. Seregil assures him "Alec's already done both." They return to Watermead.
Two days later, with vague plans to be spies or, if all else fails, thieves, Seregil and Alec ride off together.
Analysis: Chapters 48-52
I gotta tell you something, when I was nearing the end of this book--around chapter 40 or so--I was worried. Alec's capture happened in the latter third; moreover, it was intimately connected with the big climactic battle which was being led up to from page 1 of book 1. And there was still another book! Seregil and Alec might not even be reunited until the end of that!
But then, here were are, end of book 2, and: Everything to do with the prophecy is resolved. Ashnazai and Mardus are dead. Nysander is dead. Seregil and Alec have kissed. We have dealt with Seregil's freaking PTSD.
I guess what I'm saying is--WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO BE IN BOOK 3.
I'm pretty excited to find out. I hope they smooch ALL THE TIME.