Chapter 14: Adelina
After Teren leaves Raffaele’s performance, Adelina flees the scene as well. Raffaele notices her leaving and hurries after her. He can tell something is wrong. Adelina decides not to tell him what has transpired with Teren. She remembers Raffaele’s warning about what the society does to weak links, and fears Teren’s leverage over her will be enough to convince the Daggers that she is too much of a liability. A few days after Teren’s ambush, she resolves that she will play this dangerous game.
5 days pass. Adelina is in the cavern with the other members of the Dagger Society, watching Enzo and Spider spar. After a rigorous fight Enzo emerges victorious. Adelina marvels at his skill, and Raffaele tells her that Enzo used to train with the Inquisition as a child. He then asks her if she was concentrating during the fight, as she was supposed to focus on seeing threads of energy in the air. She tries using her abilities to see the threads of energy within the other Daggers, but fails. Frustrated, she lashes out at Raffaele, questioning his training methods. He calms her down and theorizes that her powers are most easily accessible when she feels herself to be in extreme danger.
Raffaele gives Adelina a simple task so she can try calling up her powers in a non life-threatening situation. Just as she is able to conjure up a small ribbon of darkness, her concentration breaks and her hold on the threads of energy slips. Spider takes this opportunity to toy with and mock her. Raffaele tells him to stop, warning him of Enzo’s wrath should he find out, especially with the Tournament of Storms being so close. This makes Spider cease his bullying of Adelina.
As he turns to go, Adelina’s anger build and she’s able to see the energy threads connecting her to Spider. She pulls on them, which causes a dark silhouette to burst up out of the ground in front of Spider. The illusion quickly dissipates but the message is clear. Spider turns back to Adelina and whispers that he looks forward to the day Enzo realizes her uselessness and kills her. Adelina fantasizes about cutting him from ear to ear. Raffaele steps in and makes Spider back down again. He apologizes for Spider’s behavior, saying the boy is jealous of Enzo’s interest in her as a fighter. Adelina’s heart lurches at the idea of Enzo being interested in her. Just then, Enzo returns to the cavern and rounds up the others for a mission. Adelina decides this is her chance to meet with Teren for the first information exchange.
Chapter 15: Adelina
The moment Adelina leaves Fortunata Court she senses something is off in Estenzia. There is some sort of celebration happening, but the atmosphere feels sinister. Disregarding the uneasy feeling in the air, Adelina hurries to the Inquisition Tower, the place Teren told her to meet him. The guards at the entrance refuse to let her enter, and Adelina begins to panic, worried she will be seen by a Dagger. Suddenly, Teren himself comes to the door for her. He had been watching her progress towards the tower from above.
Teren takes Adelina to a private room. She demands to see her sister, but Teren says she needs to give him information first. Adelina refuses until he can prove that he has Violetta. Having predicted this would happen, Teren produces from his pocket Violetta’s favorite necklace. It has a piece of her hair wrapped around its chain. His honestly confirmed, Teren warns Adelina to not doubt him again, and to never lie to him, unless she wants her sister to bear the repercussions of her lies. Teren’s interrogation of Adelina begins. She dodges many of his questions, either saying she doesn’t know or giving vague answers. She can’t hedge forever however, and finally tells him that the Daggers are planning something for the Tournament of Storms. Teren acts on the information immediately, summoning another Inquisition and instructing them to tell the king. Teren turns back to Adelina and asks if she has any more information to offer. She says no and begs for more time. Teren relents, and allows her to leave.
Back on the streets, Adelina wanders in a daze until she comes across a packed piazza. The crowd is divided into sections of red, blue, gold, and green. From the proceedings Adelina deduces a horse race is taking place. Just as she arrives, the race’s official announcer begins to officiate. He says that these races will determine who will compete for Estenzia at the Tournament of Storms. When he mentions the tournament, Adelina realizes that this must somehow be connected with the Daggers’ larger mission, and that she just alerted Teren about it.
As Adelina reels over what she has just done and what it may mean for the Dagger Society, the competitors come out. One of them catches her attention and shocks her. It is Star Thief, whose real name is Lady Gemma of House Salvatore. With her purple marking splayed across her face, Gemma is clearly malfetto. Adelina speculates that Gemma’s family must be extremely powerful and influential for a malfetto like her to be allowed to compete. In the crowd there are many people protesting Gemma’s presence in the race, but an equal number of people supporting her participation in the race.
The race begins and Gemma is in ninth place but seemingly unconcerned. On the last lap she leans down and whispers to her horse, just as a gust of wind blows through the square. Using a combination of her and Windwalker’s abilities Gemma quickly overtakes the other racers and finishes in first place. Adelina breathes a sigh of relief, thinking she didn’t foil the Daggers’ plans after all. She turns to go, intent on getting back to Fortunata Court before anyone notices she’s been gone. Just then, some Inquisitors come with news from the palace. The king has just decreed that malfettos are no longer eligible to compete in the Tournament of Storms.
The crowd goes wild, half with support for the new decree and half in protest of it. Amidst the tumult, Gemma stands alone and isolated among a circle of Inquisitors. Suddenly, someone from the crowd hurls a rock at an Inquisitor. Unable to locate the perpetrator, the Inquisitors think to use Gemma as an example and begin to punish her. Adelina feels the darkness within herself and the crowd begin to swell. She pulls on the threads of energy inside herself and creates an illusionary army of Elites around the piazza. Pandemonium erupts. Adelina cannot keep up the illusions for long so they soon dissipate, but the damage has been done. She joins the masses fleeing the scene. Despite the turn things have taken, Adelina feels a sense of glee over the chaos she has caused.
She sneaks back into Fortunata, and heads towards her chamber. Unfortunately, the other Daggers are already there, waiting for her. Enzo is front and center. He demands to know why she left the court. Adelina fears that Enzo knows she is in cahoots with Teren. Before she can defend herself, Spider jumps in and blames her for the rioting currently happening in the streets. Adelina snaps back at him. Before they can enter into another argument, Enzo dismisses Spider, calling him “Dante."
Focusing back on Adelina, Enzo agrees to train her faster, especially since she can disguise any of them so they can compete in the Tournament of Storms. However, he does reprimand her for endangering his Elites. He warns her this will be the last time she disobeys him. Adelina is first depressed by the distinction Enzo makes between her and his Elites (he does not count her in their number). She is then frightened, realizing that if he finds out about Teren, he really will kill her.
After imparting his warning and telling Adelina to be at the cavern tomorrow by dawn, Enzo leaves. Only Windwalker and Adelina remain. Windwalker introduces herself to Adelina as “Lucent," and then tells her that this is Enzo’s way of thanking her for her help with the mission. He is going to train her personally.
Chapter 16: Teren
At the palace, Teren is feeling the king’s wrath. Even though Gemma is malfetto, she is still the daughter of Baron Salvatore, a powerful Kenettran nobleman. The king is furious that Teren allowed his Inquisitors to threaten Gemme in public, because he cannot afford to anger someone with the Baron’s clout. Teren attempts to defend himself, citing the king’s own decree against malfettos, but the king overrides him, saying that Teren must execute the decree discreetly. Unfortunately for the king, he does not realize angering his noblemen is apart of Teren and Giulietta’s plans. Thus, the king misses the double meaning when Teren says he will not embarrass him ever again.
Chapter 17: Adelina
The next day Adelina meets Enzo in the empty cavern. Unlike other training sessions, no one else is present. Enzo begins by asking Adelina if it excites her, feeling fear. She doesn’t answer, but remembers the rush of power and pleasure she experienced at the races. Before he goes on, Enzo warns her that he is not like Raffaele. He then imprisons Adelina in two columns of roaring fire. Adelina tries to attack back but Enzo rushes her as she’s trying to concentrate. She finally succeeds at pulling on some strands of energy but only manages to produce wispy, misty illusions that Enzo dispels with ease. After a while Adelina becomes overwhelmed and gives up on trying to use her powers. She makes a break for the cavern exit.
Enzo blocks her off on 3 sides with walls of flames. Adelina sinks to the ground and sobs. Enzo stops attacking her and looks down at her in disappoint. He decides that she is still not ready and turns to leave. Adelina feels the bite from his rejection and allows her anger and inner darkness build. She uses them to create large black wings that morph into millions of pieces of sharp glass. They hurtle towards Enzo, causing him to blink. He walks back to Adelina and instructs her to make something with color. She makes a red rose that makes Enzo bleed when he touches it. This image reminds her of a childhood memory, making her realize that she is learning imitation from reality.
Enzo is finally impressed. Adelina stares back at him, defiant and still peeved. As they gaze at each other, Adelina sees something in his eyes beyond his desire to exploit her powers. She thinks she’s seeing familiarity in his gaze. Finally Enzo breaks their stare and wipes a tear from Adelina’s face. He says she’s too strong to cry.
Chapter 18: Adelina
Estenzia is more than a little worse for wear in the aftermath of the king’s new decree. Some citizens rush to the temples to pray while others gather in public places to hear people such as Teren give anti-malfetto speeches. During one such rally Teren burns 3 malfettos alive, accusing them of being 3 of the Elites from the race day incident. He then announces a new royal decree. All malfetto families and shops must pay a double tax to the crown. Failure to compile will result in detainment and the assumption that the offenders are in league with Young Elites.
Adelina’s lessons sped up. Enzo oversees her training now, which makes her progress in leaps and bounds. She trains with the Architect, whose real name is Michel, in the art of making lifelike illusions. Her new skills make Adelina think she can stand up to Teren the next time she sees him.
One day she and Gemma talk as they watch the others duel. Gemma opens up about the loving and supportive relationship she has with her family, causing Adelina to feel jealous. However, despite their clear differences the girls are fast becoming friends, a fact Raffaele points out to Adelina the next day. The two of them are walking in the catacombs. Now that Enzo has taken over her training, Raffaele has been teaching her how to navigate the labyrinth below the city.
After pointing out several paths that lead to places of interest, Raffaele takes her to his favorite spot. As they sit, Raffaele monitors the spikes and cadences of Adelina’s energy. With her next meeting with Teren approaching quickly, her unease has been mounting, something Raffaele can see though he does not know the source. Adelina asks him to sing her mother’s lullaby. As he sings, she begins to cry, driven to tears by her memories of her mother. When the song ends, Raffaele looks at Adelina with genuine affection. This makes her think that perhaps amongst the Daggers she can have what she’s never had before: kindness with no strings attached.
Despite her feel-good moments with Raffaele, nothing compares to her sessions with Enzo. He pushes her hard, frequently attacking her side with weak vision. Adelina rises to the challenge however, and manages to outsmart him in one exchange. This leads to an intimate moment between them. Adelina wants to tell him about the hold Teren has over her. The words are on the tip of her tongue, but at the last moment she changes tack and asks instead when she’ll be allowed to go on a mission.
As they talk, Enzo crowds her into a wall and acts as if he’s about to kiss her. Adelina’s emotions spike, her hold on her powers wavers, and mild illusions start appearing around them. When Enzo steps back, the illusions fade. Adelina looks into his eyes and sees flickers of vulnerability and guilt in his gaze. Soon, his gaze returns to normal and he tells Adelina that they will see about her missions. He leaves, and Adelina wonders if their moment was just another one of her illusions. Just then, she notices his handprint has been burnt into wall he almost kissed her against.
In this section the story builds on the foundations that were laid in the previous section. None of the plot lines and dilemmas introduced earlier reaches a resolution. Rather, the stakes are raised and the tension mounted, making the reader unconsciously brace for the inevitable fallout. A great example of this is Adelina’s arrangement with Teren. Multiple times in this section she comes close to telling different members of the Dagger Society about the hold Teren has over her, but at the last moment changes her mind. Instead, she meets with Teren and tells him information on the Daggers that allows him to throw a wrench in their plans. With this act, Adelina crossed an invisible (but still present) line in the sand. It will be hard for her to convince the Daggers of her innocence after this.
Several different themes and motifs play pivotal roles in this section of the book. The two themes are “being a marked individual/persecution” and “reality vs. illusion." The persecution of malfettos is thrust aggressively in our faces following Gemma’s victory at the horse races. At this point the king mandates that malfettos are no longer allowed to compete in the Tournament of Storms. This is significant because it means the king is stripping malfettos of their freedoms and rights as citizens. The persecution is continued during the aftermath of the horse race riots. At an anti-malfetto rally Teren makes the announcement that malfettos must pay double the taxes of “normal” citizens. This is clearly an attempt to target, victimize, and punish malfettos for being malfetto.
The push and pull between reality and illusion is explicitly alluded to during Adelina and Enzo’s training session. She thinks he’s about to kiss her, but when he doesn’t and acts like nothing has happened, she then wonders if it was all an illusion. She knows it actually happened when she sees the physical proof Enzo left on the wall behind her. This whole exchange is an indication that Adelina’s grasp on what’s real and what’s not real is slipping.
The motif “kindness with strings attached” makes a reprise in this chapter. When Raffaele and Adelina are sitting in his favorite spot, Adelina thinks that she made have found with the Daggers the thing she has craved the most in her life: love and affection given freely, with nothing expected in return. While the love and affection Adelina wants from Raffaele is of the platonic sort, with Enzo it seems her desires are romantic in nature. Adelina’s scenes with Enzo have a romantic mood, which is different from the overall somber and dark mood of the book. The moment between the two of them against the cavern wall is laden with passion, suppressed feelings, and desire. It reads like a scene from a romance novel and adds another layer of complexity to the storyline. Now Adelina must also grapple with her growing romantic feelings for Enzo as she deals with the guilt of betraying his Daggers to Teren.
Finally, Lu does some uncharacteristically heavy-handed foreshadowing in this section. When the king is admonishing Teren for his ill treatment of Baron Salvatore’s daughter, Lu transparently suggests that the king won’t be around for much longer, and that Teren will play a hand in his demise. The transparency of Lu’s foreshadowing in this scene contrasts sharply with other instances of foreshadowing in the book. For example, Adelina’s mother anticipating that Adelina would need her fighting spirit in the future is a minor indication of Adelina’s future as a Young Elite. Comparing this piece of foreshadowing to the one about the king is like comparing a spy to a marching band in terms of subtlety.