Inan feels Zélie’s pain like a lingering presence. He enters King Saran’s office, and sees that his father is calm and collected: harming Zélie is all in a day’s work for him. Because she is a maji, her death doesn’t mean anything to him, just as the deaths of those in the encampment don’t mean anything.
Saran says that Inan disgraced him, expecting Inan to cower. But for once, Inan talks back, saying that the interrogation was useless and cruel. Surprisingly, Saran takes it as a sign that Inan has grown during his travels.
In the past, Inan always obeyed his father, out of a combination of fear and respect. But, as he has learned more about his father’s harmful beliefs and policies, Inan has begun to question his father and feel less controlled by him.
Saran says that they must go to these lengths to keep the kingdom safe. Other kingdoms fell when they didn’t keep magic in check. He says he needed to break the “maggot,” Zélie, and then she told him everything he needed to know: the scroll can only be destroyed with magic. He has kept her alive for now so she can be the one to destroy it.
Saran’s fearmongering and dehumanizing tactics are on display here. To justify the oppression of the divîners, he points to other kingdoms where allowing them to have power has apparently led to ruin. Now, he hates all divîners, equating them with maggots.
Saran says that Zélie deserves to be killed because she killed Kaea. He holds up a turquoise crystal—one of the ones that appeared in Kaea’s hair after she died. He says that Amari must also be killed for her role in Kaea’s death.
Saran shows the way that violence can feed into itself. By seeking to avenge violence with more violence, Saran simply promotes death without justice. He also confirms that he is willing to kill his own children in order to support his own murderous, oppressive regime.
After they kill Zélie, says Saran, they will parade her body around Orïsha to put down any thoughts of rebellion. He says there is no other way, because maji are dangerous.
Saran hopes to keep divîners under his thumb by using fear. He will prevent that which he is afraid of—the divîners gaining power—by making them more afraid of him, instead.
Saran gives Inan an unexpected and unwanted hug, and Inan remembers when he hurt Amari as a child. His father told him being able to hurt her would make him a great king; words that had made Inan happy. Inan’s success in hunting down the scroll now has proven to Saran that Inan will indeed be a good ruler. In some ways, it’s all Inan’s ever wanted, but all he can think about is Zélie.
Saran always promoted an equivalence between ability to fight and ability to lead, forcing Inan to hurt his sister even though he did not want to. Even now, Inan finds his father’s approval compelling, and must fight to remind himself that this is no longer who he is.