Zélie tries desperately to summon enough animations to take down the guards, but Inan easily takes them down, demonstrating that they won’t be enough. She knows that using blood magic or the sunstone would make her stronger—but she fears what would happen if she tried blood magic again, and she doesn’t want to reveal the sunstone to Inan.
Magic can be extremely frustrating and disheartening. In moments like these, Zélie’s connection to the gods only makes her feel more alone. She feels abandoned by the gods, alienated from Inan, and doesn’t know where to turn.
Zélie says that Inan should use his own magic to attack, but he refuses, panicked. He says that he must keep his magic secret to save Orïsha, because it is the root of all Orïsha’s problems. But she counters that it is King Saran, not magic, that causes so much suffering. Inan maintains that his father did the right thing by taking magic away.
Inan’s loyalty to his father is evident in his stubborn confidence in his father’s teachings. Despite personally witnessing and possessing magic, Inan continues to believe his father’s deeply held prejudice that all magic is evil and bad. By refusing to use his powers, Inan is actively standing in his own way.
Zélie has another perspective: she says that lack of power has led to the maji’s oppression. Without power, the monarch is free to see and treat them like maggots. Inan says more magic, meaning more power, will only intensify the conflict. Zélie hits him with a hard truth: because of the guards, she lives in constant fear.
Zélie explains the way that power works in the monarchy: in order to keep control, the monarchy resorts to violence, fearmongering, and the dehumanization of its own subjects. In an ostensible bid to bring peace, the monarchy has instead seized absolute power and actively worked to keep divîners living in fear.