Chapter 19: Raffaele
Raffaele and Enzo talk about Adelina as they watch her train with Michel. Her control over her powers is increasing exponentially each day, something that Raffaele notes. He also notices Adelina’s blossoming friendships with the other Daggers, which makes him think he may have misjudged her in the beginning. However, he still has his reservations about her, particularly because of her alarming power and mood shifts. He tells Enzo that he was holding Adelina back to protect them all, since she has the potential to become the most powerful of them all. He predicts that her powers will soon extend beyond illusions of the eyes to illusions that ensnare all the senses.
While Raffaele seems wary of this prospect, Enzo is excited by it. Raffaele notices Enzo’s emotions shift whenever Adelina is mentioned. The normally calm and removed leader of the Daggers seems to having romantic feelings for Adelina, feelings he once had for a woman named “Daphne”. Raffaele reminds Enzo that Adelina is not Daphne, and feels a pang of sorrow for him. He then flashes back to memories he has of Enzo and Daphne together, in particular a memory of Enzo proposing to her. Raffaele realizes that since Daphne’s death, he has not sensed these feelings in Enzo until now, when Adelina has entered their lives.
Before the two go their separate ways, Enzo instructs Raffaele to prepare Adelina, because she will be accompanying them to the Spring Moons.
Chapter 20: Adelina
Adelina dreams of the only time her father was nice to her. He takes her out for a day touring the Dalian ports, an activity he usually only did with Violetta. Though Adelina feels certain there must be a catch, she enjoys her carefree day with her father. Until the sun begins to set, and her father attempts to coax Adelina’s potential powers out of her. Before now he had tried violence as a means to manifest Adelina’s powers. When that didn’t work, he turned to kindness and affection. Adelina’s father tries this method for weeks until finally he gives up and pronounces Adelina to be worthless.
Back in the present, Adelina prepares for her first official mission with the Dagger Society. The mission is fairly simple. During the Spring Moons, an annual Kenettran festival, they will blow up ships carrying fireworks for the festivities. They intend for this act to show defiance towards and the weakness of the king. When they are discussing the mission, Raffaele describes the city as a powder keg, with many civilians growing discontent with the current king. He believes these are the perfect circumstances for Enzo to seize the throne. Adelina wonders what it would be like to be in a position of such power, to rule over others in such a way.
Along with the other consorts, Adelina takes a gondola to the main harbor in Estenzia. She and Raffaele split up, and then Enzo joins her. They are disguised as revelers that are in a relationship. They dance amongst the other revelers and kiss briefly when the dance ends. Enzo leads Adelina away from the crowd and towards the harbor edge where the ships are shored, all the while acting like a besotted lover. Adelina knows it’s all for show, and yet can’t help her feelings from bubbling up inside.
The pair fakes a drunken stumble to the far end of the pier, where some Inquisition officers stop them. Enzo fakes drunkenness until he is within touching distance the officers. Before they can use their weapons, the Architect, who is hiding nearby in the dark, unravels them right before eyes. Defenseless, they can only stand in place as Enzo melts them from the inside. Then, it’s Adelina’s turn. She creates an illusion of two Inquisition officers to replace the ones Enzo just killed. This will throw off the suspicions of anyone watching. Enzo and Michel then go to set the first ship on fire. The fire makes Adelina flashback to the night her father died, which disturbs her concentration. She runs off to the second pier and begins to conjure up illusions of Daggers to through the Inquisition officers into disarray. One of them realizes that the Daggers are fake, but it’s too late. Real Daggers have arrived and begin picking off the Inquisitors one by one.
Soon attendees of the festival begin to notice something has gone wrong, and chaos erupts. The Daggers continue to fight with the Inquisitors and explode the firework ships. Job done, the Daggers split up and begin to run to their various safe locations. As she goes to meet Raffaele at theirs, Teren catches Adelina. Not as cordial as their last meeting, he pins her against the wall and he demands she give up the identities of the Daggers. Adelina tries to say she knows nothing, but Teren no longer believes her. He gives her 3 more days to gather information or he will kill Violetta.
Just as Teren is about to make his getaway, Dante and Enzo come to Adelina’s rescue. As Enzo and Teren fight, Adelina notices that Teren’s injuries heal immediately. She has the realization that he is a Young Elite. Before she can share this piece of information, Enzo orders her and Dante to flee the scene. Adelina cloaks the two of them in invisibility and they flee into the catacombs below the city.
Chapter 21: Adelina
The next day, Adelina barricades herself in her room and agonizes about her situation. She has 3 days to decide between telling the Daggers of what’s happened with Teren and betraying them entirely. Thoughts of what Teren is doing to Violetta torment her. She also puzzles over the paradox of an Elite that has made it his life’s work to destroy other malfettos and Elites.
Finally, Raffaele comes and successfully pulls Adelina out of her self-imposed solitary confinement. Again, she considers telling about Teren having her sister, but does not because she doubts the Daggers will care enough to help her. Raffaele has come to take Adelina to her initiation ceremony. After her participation in last night’s mission, she has passed her final test and is now ready to be a full-fledged member of the Dagger Society. All of the Daggers except for Enzo are present at the initiation rite. After Adelina recites the Dagger Society pledge, Raffaele welcomes her into the fold, and calls her by her alias: “White Wolf”.
After the initiation, the Daggers have an exclusive party to commemorate Adelina joining the team and the success of their recent mission. Besides members of the Dagger Society, several aristocrats and Fortunata consorts are present. The aristocrats are patrons of the society and are eager to meet Adelina. The conversation amongst them all is about the upcoming Tournament of Storms. Some aristocrats voice their frustrations at having to wait until the tournament to strike directly at the king and queen, and ask if Adelina can help them enter the palace that very night. Enzo says that her powers are not yet strong enough for such an undertaking. Before the disappointment of the patrons can settle in, Lucent and Michel distract them with jokes.
However, the conversation eventually drifts back to Adelina. The nobles ask for a demonstration of her abilities. Adelina acquiesces and creates an illusion of Enzo. Appeased, the patrons and Enzo outline the plan for the Tournament of Storms. Adelina is to disguise Gemma as another horse racer. Gemma will ride close to the king and queen, and strike them at the right moment. Adelina feels a thrill at being included in the plan. She also notices that despite being surrounded by supporters, Enzo is on edge. She asks him directly why he isn’t happier, and he skirts around her question by offering up a toast in her honor. Gemma notices Adelina’s pleasure at Enzo’s attention and says she knows that Adelina likes him. Adelina denies it but watches on jealously as Gemma gains the attention of Enzo.
A consort suggests they plan a game. As the others frolic, Enzo and Adelina stay removed, preoccupied with their own thoughts. Adelina, overcome with thoughts about Teren and her betrayal of the Daggers sways in her seat. Enzo notices and escorts her from the party.
When they are alone, Adelina asks Enzo if he always knew about Teren’s ability. Enzo reveals that he and Teren were childhood friends and that the Lead Inquisitor is the only Young Elite Raffaele cannot sense. He tells her that Raffaele was called to a client’s home. Though he tries to reassure her, Adelina can’t but feel uneasy at Raffaele’s prolonged absence.
The pair stops in a courtyard. As they gaze at one another, Adelina believes she sees a flicker of desire in his eyes. Seizing up her courage, Adelina kisses him. At first Enzo doesn’t respond. Adelina ends the kiss and embarrassed, turns to leave. Enzo stops her and kisses her passionately. Blown away by his kiss, Adelina’s hold on her powers begins to slip. Threads of her energy begin to wrap around Enzo’s, clouding them with darkness. Realizing that this is dangerous, Adelina regains her clarity and pushes Enzo away. He looks confused, as if he can’t recall what’s been happening. As Adelina offers her young age as the reason why she stopped them, Enzo returns to normal. He agrees with Adelina and escorts her back to her room.
Adelina stands in her dark room and thinks about what just happened. She realizes that now is the perfect moment to tell Enzo about what has transpired between herself and Teren. Now that she is one of them, she believes they will take her side and help her. She leaves her room in search of Enzo. Just as she spots him, she sees Dante is talking furtively with him. Adelina uses her illusions to disguise herself and settles in to listen to their conversation. As she does, her father’s apparition appears next to her and taunts her.
Chapter 22: Adelina
Dante and Enzo are talking about Adelina. Dante is trying to convince Enzo that Adelina is a liability and that she may be in cahoots with Teren. Enzo defends her, saying she is crucial to their Tournament of Storms mission. When casting doubt on Adelina’s loyalties doesn’t work, Dante switches tactics. He points out the similarities between Adelina and Daphne, and accusing Enzo of allowing his feelings for his past love cloud his judgments about Adelina. He talks at length about Daphne, about how giving and trustworthy she was. He juxtaposes her with Adelina, saying that while everyone trusted Daphne, no one trusts Adelina. He points out ways in which Enzo has treated Adelina different from how he treats the other Daggers, and says he hasn’t followed Enzo this long to see him fall because of his new crush.
At this, Enzo regains his fire. He cautions Dante, telling him to watch his words. When Dante says Enzo is in love with Adelina, Enzo denies it fervently, saying that Adelina means nothing to him, aside from being a Dagger recruit. In the shadows, Adelina feels a heart-piercing pain at these words. Dante doesn’t believe him, but says if Enzo is telling the truth, he will have no trouble taking this piece of advice: to use Adelina and her powers until he’s on the throne. Once Enzo has “finished his fun” with her, he should get rid of her, as she won’t stay loyal to him long. Enzo doesn’t immediately respond vocally to Dante’s “advice,” but Adelina can sense his internal response. It’s a black fury awakening in his heart. Still, he remains visibly calm with Dante and dismisses him.
Once both men depart, a devastated Adelina sinks to the ground. Her hopes of confiding in the Daggers and her growing feelings for Enzo lay in a withered heap. She tries to combat Dante’s hateful words with memories of Gemma and Raffaele’s kindness to her, but can’t help but think these were all calculated moves. Kindness with strings attached.
Adelina goes back to her room and allows her emotions to overwhelm her. Time passes and her mind slips between the past and the present. She remembers the night her life changed, when she overheard her father discussing her with his guest. She realizes that she’s come full circle. People are still denouncing her behind her back. She tries to remember Enzo’s affection and care for her, but soon her resentment and bitterness overrun her other emotions. Heart hard, Adelina leaves her room and heads towards the Inquisition Tower.
Chapter 23: Teren
Only, Teren isn’t there at the moment. He is currently sneaking around the palace, heading towards the king’s bedchamber. Using a secret passageway, Teren gains access to the king’s room. The king is fast asleep, but Giulietta is wide-awake, and appears to have been waiting for him. At her prodding, Teren takes out a thin knife and a wooden mallet. Using a technique he learned at his father’s deathbed, Teren raises the knife over the inside corner of the king’s right eye, and uses the mallet to pound it in. The king twitches, writhes, and then goes still. He is dead. With his death, Giulietta will become the ruler of Kenettra, and, with Teren leading the way, begin a true purge of Estenzia’s malfettos.
In these chapters we turn a clinical gaze to Adelina, her thoughts, inner turmoil, and strife. In chapter 20 we flashback to Adelina’s childhood memory of the only time her father was kind and loving to her. Though Adelina soaks up his affection, she knows there must be a catch to his attention. And sure enough, Sir Martino reveals he was only being kind in hopes of sparking Adelina’s powers. Adelina’s poisonous relationship with her father is the reason why “kindness with strings attached” is her kryptonite. Whenever someone is kind to her, or does something for her, her gut reaction is to think, “how is this person benefiting by helping me?” She does not trust in her own value as a person, and so assumes when someone “invests” their time and affection in her, they must be expecting a tangible return.
At first being with the Dagger Society seems to help Adelina overcome these internal worth struggles. Her friendships with Gemma and Raffaele in particular make her think that perhaps she has finally found a place where she belongs, where she is wanted regardless of what she can bring to the table. However, these kinds of thoughts are a type of self-delusion on Adelina’s part. The only reason the Dagger Society saved her from the Inquisition is because they wanted her powers for their cause. Over time some of them may have grown to like her, but the relationships themselves began on these terms. Unconsciously Adelina seems to understand this, because she is constantly trying to prove herself to the Daggers during training sessions. Especially Enzo. By proving herself Adelina hopes to show why she deserves to be one of them, to be cared for by them. In this way the motifs and themes of kindness with strings attached, investment, and proving yourself are intertwined.
Explorations into Adelina’s inner darkness are also sparked by her interactions with the Dagger Society. During the Spring Moon mission Adelina helps the Dagger Society kill multiple Inquisition officers. Though parts of her recoil at what they are doing, other parts revel in the power and energy she has at her fingertips. When chaos erupts after they blow up the firework ships, though she is frightened something in Adelina “hungers” for the terror and fear of the civilians around her. Something dark inside of her yearns to break free. Adelina suppresses these feelings and this darkness, but we get the feeling that it’s a real struggle for her. Later on, after she overhears Dante and Enzo’s conversation about her, she allows her dark feelings to overwhelm her. Her feelings of betrayal and bitterness drive her to head towards Teren, supposedly to tell him all she knows about the Dagger Society. At this point it seems like evil won its conflict with good within Adelina. However Lu troubles traditional of good vs. evil theme in The Young Elites. The Dagger Society isn’t necessarily a “good” organization, so is betraying them really an act of evilness? You could argue that though the Daggers aren’t “good,” Teren is even worse, so by helping Teren Adelina is picking the worst of two evils. In any case, good and evil aren’t as clear-cut in The Young Elites as it is in other works.
In addition to Adelina’s self-reflections, we also get to see what other characters think about her. The first of these characters is Raffaele, who seems to be reconsidering his first impression of Adelina. Watching her interact with Gemma and Michel, seeing the bonds she is forging between herself and them, makes him think that maybe he misjudged her. However, he is still fearful of her rapidly growing power and her ambition. He continues to caution Enzo, particularly because he senses Enzo may have more than platonic feelings for Adelina.
While Raffaele is attempting to see Adelina in a positive light, Dante is a completely different animal. Distrustful and resentful of Adelina from the beginning, the moment he saw between Adelina and Teren the night of the Spring Moon mission seems to solidify his ill will towards her. He tells Enzo that no one else really trusts Adelina, that they tolerate her at best. While this seems to be a misrepresentation of how the other Daggers feel about Adelina (Gemma and Michel at least seem to like her), there is a ring of truth to Dante’s words. It is unclear if the Daggers truly do trust Adelina. Either consciously or unconsciously it seems they sense there is something lurking beneath Adelina’s surface, something that yearns for their fear, because it can take that fear and turn it into power. Paradoxically, its Adelina’s powers, the ones that make her appealing to the Daggers, which also make her untrustworthy to them.
Unlike other characters, Enzo’s true feelings about Adelina remain a mystery. In many ways he is still the aloof, mysterious character we were introduced to in chapter 2. During his romantic moments with Adelina it looks as if his veneer cracks and we see the person below the surface. However, because these moments are so brief, we are left wondering if they meant anything truly at all. Enzo propagates this confusion himself by denying time and time again that he has emotions or feelings beyond the ones he needs to achieve his goals. For example, when Adelina kisses him he responds with a fiery passion. But shortly after, when Dante accuses him of loving Adelina, Enzo says adamantly that she means nothing to him. We want to believe that he is simply in denial about his feelings, but the opaqueness of his characterization makes it difficult to say this definitely. As we enter into the book’s rising action, it’ll be interesting to see what changes and developments occur in Adelina’s relationships with the other characters.