Inan can’t stop thinking about Zélie, and he can’t shake the feeling that he’s lost her forever. Saran approaches and sees that Inan is wavering. Inan himself looks to the skies, wishing he could turn to the gods for guidance.
Inan feels conflicted, drawn to abandon his mission in order to protect the person he loves. He wants to follow his heart, but he feels a sense of loyalty to his responsibilities as a prince, if not any longer to his father directly. He knows that turning towards the gods would give him a sense of connection and comfort, but again, he defers to his family’s norms, which require that he reject religion.
Saran surprises Inan by saying that he, too, wavered once. As a young prince, he watched as the monarchy considered a proposal to integrate leaders of the maji clans into the nobility of the court. Saran’s father dreamed of such a government, one of unification and harmony. Saran’s first wife, too, urged support of the referendum. Choosing love over duty, Saran says, he honored his wife’s wishes and supported the movement. But then, he says, he realized the maji just wanted the power to conquer the nobles.
Saran believes that granting civil rights to the maji was a mistake because they seized too much power. He has used that fear to motivate genocide and oppression. He has also turned it into an oppressive creed, believing that following one’s heart always leads to destruction.
Hearing his words, Inan pictures the death and destruction he witnessed at the Gombe fortress. Saran says that Inan, too, must now choose duty and kingdom before himself. Saran presents Inan with his sword, telling him that sacrificing his heart will make him a noble king. Secretly, Inan thinks that he must choose Orïsha over Zélie. He says he knows how they can get the scroll back.
Saran’s words strike a chord with Inan, who also fears that the reintroduction of magic into the kingdom will simply bring retaliatory violence against the kingdom. Inan is also following a version of Saran’s creed, putting aside his own desires, and concerns, in favor of an abstract greater good.