Sometimes to understand a character, I re-write a scene from a different point of view (POV). The scene below was the re-do of the Iri/Niall/Ani/Devlin conversation that took place in one of the last chapters of RS. I re-wrote it in Irial's pov for Darkest Mercy, but it ultimately didn't belong in the book. However, I think it does shine light on Irial a bit more, & since I'm not the only one who likes him, I thought I'd share it here.
The last Dark King was dreaming, but even in his dream, he recognized the intrusion. However, the one who’d stepped into his mind was one of the faeries he’d cherished. Gabriel’s daughter, the Hound who he’d taken the wound for, slipped into his dreaming mind. She’d brought Devlin and one other creature with her. Unexpected. It was things like this that he’d miss. Unless being a shade means not missing anything. . . No one was entirely clear on what death was like for the fey—except the Death fey and they refused to answer any questions.
Irial forced his mind to focus on those who had just entered his dreaming mind. “Ani, love?”
“We need to talk to you and Niall,” she told him. “Can we . . . entwine your dream with his?”
Irial didn’t give voice to the sudden hope that he’d be able to explain things to Niall, that he could talk to the Gancanagh before he was dead. Instead, he said, “You have someone I don’t know with you. Not faery.”
“A dreamweaver . . .” Ani paused. “We really are here. You get that, right?”
“I do, pup.” Irial walked away, grateful that no one there could read his emotions. “I’ve not dealt with emotions this long to miss the taste of the jealousy your”—he glanced at Devlin—“partner is trying to hide.”
A semi-familiar room appeared out of the white landscape. A wallpaper of raised fleur-de-lis covered the walls; flickering candles crowded the room in free-standing candelabras and wall sconces. It was based, in part, on a far more decadent home Niall and Irial had shared centuries ago.
Ani sat down beside Irial on the settee. “Are you well?”
“Well enough,” he said.
She lifted the bottom of his shirt, exposing the wound that he’d taken in her stead. “Why is this unhealed? Iri?”
“Stop.” He took her hand and gently set it back in her lap and leaned back, as if he were uninjured, hiding it as best he could, trying to protect her now as he’d tried so often over the few short years she’d been under his watch. He’d always known she was different, but seeing her now, so strong and commanding . . . It filled him with a peculiarly proud sensation. I made the right choice. He hoped she’d avoid the unpleasant guilt that Niall was still struggling with if she saw that he was at peace with the sacrifice he’d made. In truth, he hoped Niall would understand too.
He felt as much saw the Dark King walking into the room, so he asked, “So . . . can your dreamweaver leave a path so I can slip into Niall’s dreams later, too?”
“Perhaps you should ask me what I think of that idea first?” Niall’s gaze took in the sight of the recreation of the long-ago room from happier times, and then gazed directly at Irial. The flash of darkness in his eyes revealed that he remembered the room they were in as vividly as Irial did.
But this wasn’t the place to discuss that, not in front of others. Instead, Irial said, “Aaah, there you are. I wasn’t sure if you were finally asleep, Gancanagh. You’re fretting too much over things that are beyond your control.”
Niall stopped in the middle of the room and stared at him with something between fury and terror coursing through him. If nothing more happened, getting one more taste of Niall’s emotions was reason enough for Irial to be grateful for the comingled dreams.
“I do not accept that answer,” Niall said.
Then, without another word to him, the Dark King approached the obsidian throne that appeared in the room.
Even with the nourishment of the emotions in the air all around them, Irial’s attempts at hiding his pain were wearing on him. He was vaguely that Devlin and Niall were talking, but the business of this world was not his concern. Not now. He wanted nothing more than for them to finish their business so he could talk to Niall alone. Then, he heard his Gancanagh adopt that harsh falsely calm voice: “Are you telling me what to do with my court, Devlin?”
Irial tensed and tried to focus.
“I do not take direction from anyone, nor am I seeking your advice. I still have an advisor.” Niall’s attention flickered to Irial briefly. His features revealed nothing, but his emotions made clear that he knew Irial was pretending not to be in pain.
Irial shook his head slightly, answering the questions Niall hadn’t verbalized. Ani didn’t need to know. It was one thing to let Niall see his weakness, but showing that to most anyone else was unacceptable. He concentrated on following the conversation when Niall motioned at him and said, “He kept his court for more than nine centuries after declaring me his heir.”
“You refused.” Irial came to his feet and carefully crossed the dream room to stand behind Niall. “If you recall, Niall, you refused being my heir.”
“Yet look at where I sit.” Niall didn’t glance back at him, but his emotions were a mess. He spoke to Devlin, but the worry and desperation that surged inside of the Dark King grew chokingly thick.
I’m sorry, Irial thought, but couldn’t speak. He wouldn’t expose either of their weaknesses. Even here. Instead, Irial gripped the obsidian throne and schooled his features into the same mask of perfect composure that he’d worn in front of his court over the years when he had to hide injuries.
At one point, Niall glanced back at Irial, but aside from that instant, he kept his attention visibly on Devlin. They argued for several moments, until finally, Ani stepped between Devlin and Niall. She reached out to Irial and squeezed his hand. He smiled at her, but didn’t waste the energy of speech.
“Once upon a time, Faerie had two courts. The Dark Court left Faerie, and as the centuries passed, new courts were born of the strongest solitaries to fill the needs of the faeries who lived in the mortal world.” Ani knelt in front of Devlin. “If the Dark Court won’t return, there is need for a new court in Faerie. Someone who is strong enough to stand up to the High Queen needs to form that court. . . and such a court would need a Gabriel . . . or Gabrielle.”
“It’s not that easy,” Devlin objected. “There already is a Dark King.”
What happens to Dark Court if someone else balances Sorcha? Irial thought to ask, but he wasn’t entirely confident that he could maintain his composure if the conversation went on to much longer.
Niall shook his head at Devlin. “I’m not going to Faerie. That leaves you.”
“Or Irial.” Devlin gave him a pointed look, but even as the former High Court Assassin tried to invite them, his own emotions were swirling. He resented them, hated the idea of subservience, worried that they couldn’t keep Ani safe—and that they might be interested in her. It was quite the delicious cocktail of emotional chaos.
Irial let it nourish him and then drawled, “You don’t seriously think I’m up for the job?” He lowered a hand on to Niall’s shoulder, hoping that his touch would comfort rather than upset Niall. “I am where I belong.”
“Order needs Discord, Devlin.” Ani spoke softly to Devlin.
While they talked, Irial stayed beside Niall. He wasn’t sure if he was happier knowing that he could finally touch Niall without fear of rejection or if he was furious that it took them so long to reach this point again. He did know that Niall was foolishly hopeful for a recovery that wasn’t going to happen.
Irial closed his eyes briefly. Once Ani and the others left, Irial would be alone again. He’d never minded being alone in his mind. In truth, he’d cherished his privacy. Aside from a few brief years with Niall and a shorter period still with Leslie, Irial hadn’t ever wanted to let anyone too close. Only Niall and Leslie had been able to read Irial’s emotions: her because of the ink exchange and him because he was the Dark King.
Then Devlin was talking again: “The veil to Faerie will be sealed. One sister will be locked on either side.”
Ani added, “Call out to us, and we will answer if we are able.”
“And Rabbit?” Irial asked. Niall might not think to ask, but later, he’d want that answer to share with Gabriel.
“He’s safe with us,” she said. “Tell Gabe . . . Dad . . . that we are all well?”
“I will.” Irial carefully stepped around the side of the throne and came toward Ani. He pulled her into his embrace and whispered in her ear: “I made the right choice, pup. I have no regrets.”
She paused as he released her, but she swallowed whatever words of objection she would say and approached the Dark King’s throne. “Take care of Gabriel and Irial?”
“In exchange,” Niall said.
“Your dreamweaver doing as Irial asked.” Niall didn’t look at Irial as he said it, but the hope was undeniable.
“Weaving the two of your dreamselves together?” Ani clarified.
The Dark King’s nod was curt.
“Done.” Ani leaned in and brushed a kiss over Niall’s cheek, and then she and the others left.
After they were gone and only the Dark Kings remained, Niall put an arm around Irial. “Lean on me.”
Irial let the pretense of strength drop. “You don’t have to stay. I’m lousy company right now. Just wanted to tell you I’m sorry.”
“Most everything, I expect.” Irial walked toward the same settee that had been in their house centuries ago. He all but fell onto it and then stared up at the Dark King. “Remember the good parts. There were good parts for you, right?”
Niall sighed and sat beside him. “You know there were.”
“Take care of Leslie.” Irial took Niall’s hand in his. “Ask me whatever you need to know about court matters today and tomorrow. After that—”
“Don’t.” Niall leaned back on the mountain of pillows beside him. “Just shut up and rest.”