Chapter 29: Adelina
The day dawns on the endgame between the Dagger Society and the Inquisition. At the main Estenzian market Adelina and Violetta position themselves in the crowd, their visages disguised courtesy of Adelina’s illusions. They are stopped and interrogated by an Inquisition officer, but manage to pass under his scrutiny. Hurrying to the arena, they take seats at the very front row and wait for everyone else to get into position.
After a while, Teren enters the arena, accompanied by his officers and a bound Raffaele. Teren makes a short speech about the new queen and their plans to rid Kenettra of the “demonic” malfettos, and then tells Enzo to reveal himself. Unbeknownst to Teren, Adelina has disguised Enzo as an Inquisition officer. She releases her illusion and one of the Inquisition officers standing near Teren becomes Enzo. Enzo and Teren square off with one another in silence, until finally Teren rips off his helmet and demands that Enzo reveal his own identity by taking off his mask. Enzo acquiesces, and is instantly recognized as the former crown prince by Teren and spectators in the crowd. Teren doesn’t indicate whether or not he’s shocked by the revelation that Enzo is the infamous Reaper. Instead, he bows his head in genuine deference to Enzo, and they begin to duel.
Enzo manages to slice into Teren multiple times, but because of Teren’s healing powers, the wounds close immediately. As they struggle, Adelina hides herself and her sister in an illusion of invisibility and the two girls move closer to the fighting boys. Meanwhile, Teren and Enzo banter about malfettos and their right to life as they continue trying to kill one another. Enzo manages to slice off a piece of Teren’s eyelid, temporarily blinding him. Teren counters by plunging a dagger deep into Enzo’s shoulder, slowing the pyro down a bit. Enzo manages to get away and gives a signal to Adelina and the other Daggers hiding elsewhere in the crowd. Several things happen at once. Arrows strike down several of the Inquisition officers surrounding Teren and Enzo while Lucent sweeps several more away with the wind. Gemma flies over on a balira, grabs Raffaele, and flies away, while Violetta uses her powers to take away Teren’s healing abilities. Finally, Adelina uses her powers of illusion to turn Enzo into an exact replica of Teren.
As the arena erupts into chaos, Enzo and Teren continue their fight. Just as Enzo begins to close in on Teren, the Lead Inquisitor reveals his own trump card. Thousands of Inquisitors pour into the arena and block all the exits. Adelina reaches out with her powers and engulfs Teren in an agonizing pain illusion. As Teren falls to his knees, Enzo prepares to deliver the killing blow. Just then, Violetta’s control over Teren’s powers breaks and she faints. Michel appears and whisks Violetta away, instructing Adelina to go help Enzo fight Teren. She hurries to the scene and creates a dozen Terens to distract him. Enzo takes the opportunity to slice Teren’s neck, but unfortunately it begins to heal immediately.
Teren notices Adelina’s proximity to the fight, runs towards her, and attacks her with his sword. Adelina falls to the ground and hits her head. The pain disorients her and her powers flip out of her control, causing illusions to flash around her. Enzo rushes towards them and gets in between Adelina and Teren. His visage flashes from his own, to Teren’s, to Dante’s. Adelina remembers how she was able to kill Dante in the alley. She lashes out with the last bit of her energy, attacking Enzo because she thinks he is Teren. Enzo falls to his knees. While he is vulnerable, Teren plunges his sword deep into Enzo’s chest. He whispers, “I win” into Enzo’s ear, and then pulls the sword out. Gasping in pain, Enzo falls to the ground. Adelina runs to his side. As she sobs over Enzo’s dying body, Teren thanks her for her help. As she cries, Adelina wonders if she really did think Enzo was Teren, or if a part of her knew it was really Enzo and lashed out at him in fury because he used her and led her on. Either way, she is gutted as Enzo’s eyes meet her gaze one last time before the life slips out of them.
Inconsolable, Adelina lashes out with her powers at Teren, trying to injure him in any way possible, to no avail. With Violetta, his shield stays firmly intact. Rather than kill Adelina too, Teren looks at her thoughtfully and tells her that she belongs with him, not with “them.” Just then, Lucent swoops in and pulls Adelina onto the back of a balira. They flee the scene.
Chapter 30: Teren
Teren watches the Elites flee, carrying with them Enzo’s body. He thinks back to his and Enzo’s childhood, when Enzo would defend Teren to Teren’s father. He tries to justify Enzo’s death, saying it had to be done so that Giulietta could rule. Still, deep in his chest, he feels a twinge of loss.
Chapter 31: Adelina
In the aftermath of Enzo’s death Adelina fades in and out of consciousness. On the back of the balira she sees first her father, then Violetta, and then Enzo float above her. Disoriented, she is able to realize when she is moved from the back of a balira into a bedroom. Her illusions have slipped out of her control again and at first she thinks she’s gone back in time to when the Daggers first rescued her because the bedchambers look the same. Eventually the illusions fade and Adelina realizes it’s not the same room and that she’s not alone, but rather surrounded by Daggers. When she turns towards the Dagger sitting closest to her, everyone else in the room flinches back and grabs up weapons. They are afraid of her.
The person sitting next to Adelina is Raffaele. As the other Daggers accuse her of betraying them, Raffaele keeps them at bay and gives Adelina a chance to explain herself. Adelina tells them the truth from the very beginning. As she confesses everything, Adelina feels relief, but her heart is also very pained. When she finishes telling her tale, she can feel the fear and suspicion emanating off of the others. She knows they want her dead. At this, her anger and strength begins to build.
Throughout Adelina’s confession, Raffaele remained quiet. Now he speaks, reminding Adelina of the first time he tested her and they found out she was aligned with fear, furry, passion, and curiosity. He tells her that from the beginning her affinity for darkness scared him, but that he hoped her link to passion would save her. Instead, her passionate nature fed her fear and fury. The more she cares about someone, the less stable her powers become. Now that her powers have grown immensely, her lack of complete control over them have made her an extremely dangerous force. Raffaele then calls her just Adelina, something he has never done before. At this, Adelina knows it’s truly over. He tells her that from the beginning he advised Enzo to kill her. Adelina begins to cry because she realizes that the one person she believed to have her back was betraying her all along. In one last attempt to mend things between all of them she reminds Raffaele of the Elite rumored to have the power of resurrection, and that they can bring Enzo back. Raffaele tells her to stop deluding herself. She begs him to not cast her out, but Raffaele remains firm in his decision. At this, Adelina fantasizes about making Raffaele feel the pain he is creating in her. Raffaele feels the swell in her energy at this thought, and his face hardens. Their conversation shifts in tone, no longer one between two distraught friends, but one between two bitter enemies.
Raffaele tells Adelina that she and Violetta can stay the night, but come morning they must leave. She is being casted out. At this, the darkness in Adelina begins to churn. It mingles with her passion, anger, hate, and fear. She begins to ask herself if the Daggers are really different from her father, who wanted to use her, or Teren, who used her to get to the Daggers. She realizes that no one ever gave her his or her kindness without expecting something in return. As her emotions build, so do her powers. She knows Raffaele can feel her energy spiking, because she can sense the fear emanating from him. To regain control, Adelina folds her emotions away one by one and becomes ice-cold. Looking at all of the Daggers, she tells them they have no right to judge her, since their organization thrives on murder. Raffaele signals for the others to leave the room. He turns back to Adelina and tells her murder is a means to an end. Adelina thinks to herself that if they cast her out, she will form her own society because she is tired of losing, of being used, hurt and tossed aside. She tells Raffaele that he is making a mistake by not killing her now. Raffaele answers, “No, I’m not” and turns to go. Just before he walks out the door he turns to Adelina and tells her that he loved Enzo too. Then he goes, and Adelina is alone.
Chapter 32: Adelina
Night falls. Adelina thinks about her and Violetta’s next move. She decides they will flee Estenzia for the time being and settle in another port capital far from it. She toys with the idea of starting her own society, certain that they will come across other Elites. As she sits in front of the vanity, she thinks about the reputation she will have around Kenettra. Because of her role in Enzo’s death, she knows she will have a myriad of enemies but welcomes the fear people will have for her. Her powers overwhelm her though, and she sees illusions of her father and Enzo. Suddenly she takes up a knife from the table and begins to chop off her hair. She blames her silver hair, along with her other markings, as the thing that brought all this pain and suffering into her life. At this moment, she hates her powers and imagines herself as the broken butterfly again, small and alone in the grass. She thinks maybe it would be best for Teren to win, for him to destroy them all so their markings fade from the world.
In her anguish Adelina starts to cut her fingers and her scalp. She begins to bleed and falls to the ground. Violetta rushes into the room and seizes the knife from her. Furious, Adelina lashes out at Violetta, who then wrenches her powers away from her. The loss of her powers makes Adelina calm down. She confesses to her sister that she can feel herself losing her fight against the darkness. Violetta says that she can make it stop, that one day she will be able to take Adelina’s powers away permanently. Adelina reacts instinctually violent to this idea, demanding that Violetta return her powers immediately. Violetta begins to cry, saying that Adelina’s powers will destroy her. Adelina says she doesn’t care, that her powers are all she has. Violetta acquiesces and Adelina’s powers flood back into her, bringing with them life and freedom.
Adelina tells Violetta to leave her alone, but her sister hugs her instead. Violetta tells Adelina to remember moments from their childhood when they were all each other had. She tells Adelina that all their lives, she has tried to protect her. At these words, Adelina realizes that all her life she was looking for kindness with no strings attached but never realized she was receiving it all along from her sister. The sisters cling to one another and Adelina forms an illusion of a perfect, whole life around them, complete with a loving father and mother. After a few moments the illusion fades. Exhausted, the sisters sprawl on the ground. Tomorrow, Adelina thinks, she will lead them out of Estenzia, find others like them, and strike back at Teren with a terrible vengeance. But for now, the sisters will stay where they are, lost in the dark.
The epilogue alights in the Skyland nation of Beldain, at the court of Crown Princess Maeve. The princess is preparing herself for a prisoner’s execution, and laments over the tediousness of it all. Standing behind her are her six older brothers and her pet white Beldish tiger. The stripes of the tiger match the lines of gold Maeve has on her own face. Maeve begins the trial of a man accuses of killing his wife. After the man has confessed to his crime, Maeve offers him a deal. If he can make it certain distance away from her before she counts to 10, she will let him live. The man starts to run, but isn’t far enough away from Maeve when she reaches 10. She fires arrows at his fleeing back. The prisoner falls to the ground and starts to crawl. Maeve instructs her tiger to “go”. The tiger runs and delivers the killing blow.
One of Maeve’s brothers breaks their formation and hands her a letter from Estenzia. The letter is from Lucent and is addressed to Maeve directly. It informs Maeve of what has transpired in Kenettra as of late, including the king’s assassination and Enzo’s death. Maeve is frustrated at the news because she had hoped with Enzo on the thrown trade between Kenettra and Beldain would resume. This would have made it easier to win control over Kenettra, without sacrificing thousands of Beldish soldiers. Still, she thinks perhaps things will be easier this way. Her brother asks about the White Wolf Lucent mentions in her letter, but Maeve disregards it as just some new Elite. She instructs her brother to give the letter to the queen, and to gather her Elites together, as they will need to make their move soon.
When her brother leaves Maeve’s thoughts drift to Lucent and their relationship. They were lovers before the queen banished Lucent from Beldain. Still thinking, Maeve begins to walk toward a small, separate manor. She ponders her imminent accession to the throne and grows sad at the idea of her mother’s looming death. Reaching the manor house, she is escorted upstairs by the two guards stationed in front of it. They reach a narrow door and the guards let Maeve go first, trailing apprehensively behind her. She opens the door and enters alone, closing it behind her. In the room is a tall, thin, boy. He is Maeve’s youngest brother and named Tristan. The two used to be extremely close until an accident in the woods with Lucent left Tristan dead. Shortly after his death Maeve visited the Underworld in her nightmares and swam through its waters trying to find her brother. She found him and pulled him back to the surface. No one knows she saved her brother by resurrecting him. They all just assume he never died. No one knows about her powers except for her society of Elites. Maeve has kept it this way because she knows people would flock to the palace for her services.
Though her brother is alive, he is a shadow of himself. He only responds and listens to Maeve. Maeve can feel a strange, unnatural power coursing through him, one that only she (as the person that brought him back) can unleash on her enemies. She tells Tristan to come, that she needs to pay Kenettra a visit.
As the first book of The Young Elites trilogy comes to a close we are left with more questions than answers, with more new plot points than resolutions. Enzo’s death sets off a chain reaction of events, not only in Estenzia and Kenettra, but also in Beldain. The reverberating impact Enzo’s death had around the Young Elites-verse perfectly demonstrates the threads of connection motif. His death and the decisions our central characters make because of his passing sets up much of the plot and conflicts for The Rose Society, the next book in The Young Elites trilogy.
For Adelina for example, the path she must take next is somewhat clear. She has been cast out by the Dagger Society and is on Teren’s wanted list. She wants revenge for Enzo’s death, but first must lick her wounds and make new allies. After Raffaele’s betrayal we can predict that in The Rose Society, one of her major conflicts will be trusting in others. Furthermore, though it seems as if her inner darkness has won her internal good vs. evil battle, glimmers of light seem to remain within Adelina. In The Rose Society we can expect this theme of good vs. evil to be revisited.
Other themes that will definitely continue to be central to Adelina’s story are “fear is power,” “reality vs. illusion,” and “being a marked individual.” Can Adelina find a way to use fear to fuel her abilities without pushing away and putting in danger those she loves? Will her illusions continue to overwhelm her, causing more incidents like her mistaking Enzo for Teren (which helped cause Enzo’s death)? Finally, now that she is known as the person who helped Teren kill Enzo, what new attentions will she receive, what new enemies has she made? These are all questions to think about for The Rose Society.
While some themes and motifs will most likely make a reprise in The Rose Society, others have more or less been resolved in The Young Elites. Two pivotal examples of this are the theme “proving yourself” and the motif “kindness with strings attached.” Throughout The Young Elites Adelina had to prove herself to her father, to the Dagger Society, and in some ways to herself. Of the Daggers, Dante in particular was extremely vocal in his belief that she wasn’t worth saving. By the end of the book, she has definitely impressed upon the Dagger Society her worth as an Elite. They are all now afraid and wary of her. Adelina has also proven to herself that she is worth people’s love and care without strings attached. She is no longer allowing herself to be used by those that only want something tangible from her. This last point is closely tied to the resolution of the “kindness with strings attached” motif. All her life Adelina had been searching for this, only to realize at the end of The Young Elites her sister Violetta had been giving it to her all along. When the book ends we are led to believe that for Adelina, her sister’s love (without strings attached) is enough.
Finally, the epilogue with Crown Princess Maeve of Beldain drops many hints for things to come in The Rose Society. One hint that suggests a major future conflict is Maeve’s inner commentary about one day winning control over Kenettra. Another is the revelation that Maeve is the rumored Elite who can bring the dead back to life. With Enzo’s body being in Dagger custody, readers can’t help but wonder if the rightful ruler of Kenettra will rise from the dead. Both of these details make it clear that Maeve will be an important character in future books of The Young Elites trilogy.