Chapter 9: Adelina
Two days after Adelina’s testing, word comes of attacks on malfettos across the city. Adelina feels the world closing in on them, and stresses about her slow progress. She asks Raffaele why the Daggers did not try to save those people, and his answer makes her realize the Daggers only risk danger if there is something to be gained. Because the murdered malfettos were not Elites, they weren’t worth saving.
Raffaele is giving Adelina a makeover so she won’t be easily recognizable by the Inquisition. While he works, he shares with Adelina what he’s learned about their powers and their source. Raffaele speculates that their powers stem from the energy link between the gods and the mortal world they created. This energy is in everything and everyone on the planet, and connects it all with threads. Normally, humans cannot manipulate these threads of connection, but the blood fever altered the makeup of the Young Elites, making it possible for them to manipulate threads. Each Elite can pull on different, specific threads, which is why they all have different abilities. He uses Enzo as an example, saying his power involves pulling on heat energy from himself, the sun, fire, etc. Raffaele also mentions rumors of other Elites in distant lands, including an Elite that can bring people back from the dead. He tells Adelina that her power involves pulling on the threads of intangible things. She has the ability to pull on threads of fear and hatred.
The conversation turns to Raffaele and Enzo’s relationship. Raffaele describes when the two first met and discovered that the other person was a Young Elite. Adelina asks why Raffaele trusts Enzo so much, and he says because Enzo will liberate him from his life as a consort. Adelina realizes that despite his grace and poise, Raffaele is deeply unhappy with his lot in life. This makes her feel closely connected to him.
Raffaele finishes Adelina’s disguise, making her up in true Tamouran style. He gives her an elegant mask he had commissioned for her. The mask covers the scarred skin over her missing eye. With her marking covered, Adelina looks stunning. As she and Raffaele marvel at her beauty, Enzo enters the room. He is struck silent by Adelina’s transformation, but then gathers his wits and announces that Adelina will start training tomorrow.
Chapter 10: Teren
The point of the view of the story flips to Teren. He is alone in his bedchamber and frustrated over his lack of progress in tracking down Adelina. He removes his shirt, revealing scores of scars on his back. Teren picks up a vicious whip he had custom made and proceeds to self-flagellate. Almost immediately after he hits himself, the wounds begin to heal. As he punishes himself, he says silently that he is a deformed creature. We then flash back to him at 12 years old.
He kneels before a 16-year-old Giulietta, who was recently married to a powerful duke and still only a princess. This is before Enzo was stripped of his crown. Teren is transfixed by Giulietta’s perfect beauty, and describes himself as being less than a dog because of his malfetto status. He hopes she will not find out about the new, demonic powers that appeared in him recently. Giulietta tells Teren that if he pledges his devotion to her, she will forgive him for being malfetto, and will make sure the gods do as well. She sways his opinion of Enzo (who Teren was friendly with before the blood fever hit) and recruits him to help her rid the world of malfettos.
Back in the present, Teren is delirious with the pain of his self imposed punishment and the fervor of his religious beliefs. He believes in order to atone for his demonic magic he must serve the queen and eradicate all Elites and malfettos from the world. He ardently believes this is his purpose, his reason for living.
Chapter 11: Adelina
Adelina’s life at Fortunata Court and among the Dagger Society quickly develops a cadence. Raffaele teaches her how to move around the court unnoticed. She spends the bulk of her time observing the other Daggers and learning more about them. She learns more about their powers and how they came to be members of the society. One member she didn’t meet before, codenamed “the Architect," can touch anything, unravel it, and re-form it in a different spot.
The other Daggers are keeping their distance and Enzo is rarely around. Adelina laments at his absent, and begins to forget her life before coming to the court. Her only goal is to become a Dagger, and to help them with their missions. She forgets about the Inquisition hunting her, and stops worrying about Violetta. She figures her sister has moved on without her, anyways.
Chapter 12: Teren
Teren’s dogged attempts at finding Adelina have paid off. A street urchin comes saying he saw a girl with a missing eye dressed in Tamouran fashion walking in a Fortunata Court courtyard.
Chapter 13: Adelina
Adelina prepares for another night of dancing and revelry at Fortunata Court. Raffaele is performing tonight so he leaves her to sit with the other consorts-in-training. Adelina is posing as one of them while she undergoes her training. As she sits, she notices one client is paying particular attention to her.
Raffaele begins his performance, and nearly everyone in the hall, Adelina included, stare transfixed at his beauty and grace. The exception is a man who comes to sit next to Adelina and whispers in her ear that he won’t hurt her. She recognizes the man’s voice as Teren’s and feels her fear spike. He is disguised as the client who was watching her earlier.
As Adelina panics because the Lead Inquisitor has found her, Teren says he has come to offer her a deal. He guesses that the Dagger Society is sheltering and training her, and suggests that she shouldn’t trust them. In exchange for feeding him information about the society, Teren will spare not only her life but also those of the ones she cares about. When Adelina asks how he knows what she cares about, Teren reveals that he has Violetta in his custody. In exchange for Adelina’s cooperation, he will not kill Violetta. With her sister’s life hanging in the balance, Adelina unwillingly becomes Teren’s spy.
Though low on action, the chapters of this section contain one of the biggest revelations of the novel: Teren is a Young Elite. This fact is simultaneously ironic and paradoxical given Teren’s unrelenting hatred of malfettos and his desire to eradicate them from the planet. Should he not be trying to improve the lives of other malfettos, given he is one himself? Why does he hate malfettos so much in the first place? Lu does not give us a specific reason or event to explain Teren’s hatred, but simply suggests that he is driven by extreme religious piety. Teren staunchly believes that malfettos are abominations and sees himself as a messiah-like figure that is destined to destroy them.
Here we can see how Teren and Enzo are foils of one another. Teren believes he was born to destroy malfettos while Enzo believes he was born to save and rule the world with them. Once we learn that the two young men were close growing up, it seems incongruent that they could have taken such diametrically opposed live paths. And yet, here we are. Teren is the Lead Inquisitor, charged with finding and executing Elites, while Enzo is the leader of the Dagger Society and one of the most notorious Elites in Kenettra.
Dramatic irony is also present in these chapters. Adelina feels herself growing closer to Raffaele as they share their pasts with one another. The reader feels a note of tragedy as we watch Adelina feel more and more connected to Raffaele, because we know how he truly feels about her. Still, despite the advice he gave to Enzo about getting rid of Adelina, Raffaele appears genuine when he is instructing and training Adelina. The way he is able to flit back and forth with his feelings demonstrate Raffaele’s ability to “harden his heart.” We see another example of that in chapter 9 when he outwardly shows no remorse about the Daggers not protecting malfettos without powers from angry mobs. Because these malfettos cannot help the Daggers with their cause, they are not worth the society’s investment.
Threads of connection, a recurring motif and metaphor in the novel, makes an appearance in this section. Raffaele uses threads of connection as a metaphor to explain how the powers of the Young Elites work. He anthropomorphizes the threads, saying that they are what give the world color and life. The threads are also individualized, because they all correspond to different aspects of the tangible and intangible world.
Looking at these chapters collectively, it is apparent that they are transitory, establishing chapters that are “setting up” conflicts and dilemmas for the rest of the The Young Elites. This is epitomized in chapters 11, 12, and 13. Just as Adelina is forgetting about her sister Violetta and the Inquisition in chapter 11, both of those plotlines come back with a punch in chapters 12 and 13. Adelina is now Teren’s unwilling spy, which may mean that Raffaele’s prediction about her could be true. It could have been a terrible mistake taking her in.